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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Anniversary of the Founding of the Jesuits September 27

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

St. Ignatius of Loyola by Peter Paul Rubens

The World Book Dictionary defines Jesuit as "a person who is like the conception of Jesuits held by their opponents; a crafty, intriguing, or equivocating person, especially one skilled at subtle reasoning...." The Jesuits were founded in the sixteenth century by a Spanish soldier and nobleman, Ignatius Loyola, who gave the religious order some of its controversial mystique. In his youth, Ignatius was noted for his quick temper, high pretensions, and elegant friends, qualities that have not completely escaped some of his followers. His religious conversion propelled Ignatius to sainthood which gave him many admirable qualities. However, he never quite made it as lovable.

In 1973, a century-old provision in the constitution of Switzerland was repealed which allowed the Jesuits to return and work in that country. Switzerland was just one of the many governments that had expelled the Jesuits in the past 400 years. The Jesuits constant meddling in politics and their often unbridled egoism led to their suppression by Pope Clement XIV, and even Pope John Paul took steps in 1983 to curb their influence in left-wing political causes.

The Jesuits who are brilliant educators have always represented the liberal wing of the Roman Catholic Church, and that liberalism has been identified with the "theology of liberation" which is a socialist rereading of the Gospels.

Jesuits have been popular characters in films and television. In the 1981-92 TV miniseries Shogun, some of the principal villains were the Jesuit missionaries in Japan. The Mission (1986) tells the story of an eighteenth-century Spanish Jesuit priest, Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons), who enters the South American jungle to build a mission and convert a community of Guaraní Indians to Christianity. The Black Robe (1991) is the often brutal but brilliant story of Father Jean Laforge played by Lothaire Bluteaua, an idealistic French Jesuit eager to evangelize the Native Americans of seventeenth-century Canada. Antonio Banderas plays a Jesuit priest in The Body ( 2001) who is sent to examine a skeleton that some thought could be the remains of Christ.

As often portrayed in film and television, the Jesuits have always been aggressive missionaries. When the Jesuits introduced the rosary in China, they made them from the seeds of an aquatic plant known as water caltrops, often mistaken for the water chestnut. Because of the use of these seeds in rosaries, they became known as Jesuits' nuts. Jesuits' nuts are used as an ingredient in many elaborate oriental recipes. Fresh Jesuit's nuts are available in September in areas with large oriental populations such as Hawaii and California. Oriental and specialty food stores carry boiled Jesuits' nuts year round in cans or jars, usually in a honey or sugar syrup.

Roast Duck and Jesuits' Nuts Salad


1&1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts 3 oz bean threads salt to taste 1 TB sesame oil 3 TB white wine 1&1/2 cups julienned carrots 1 green bell pepper, julienned 1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 lb roast duck neat, julienned 1&1/2 cups julienned Jesuits' nuts** 1/4 cup sesame paste 4 TB sake 3 TB soy sauce 1 TB honey 4 TB sesame oil 1/3 cup dry white wine

* Refer to Appendix A ** Use canned or bottled Jesuits' Nuts which are already boiled. If using fresh nuts, boil than in 1 quart of water to which 1/2 cup of sugar has been added. Remove kernels from shells. The kernels are the nuts


  1. Place bean sprouts in a colander. Rinse with 2 quarts of boiling water.

  2. Cook bean threads in boiling water for 3 minutes. Rinse in cold water, drain, and put in a bowl

  3. In a cup, combine salt, 1 TB sesame oil, and 3 TB white wine. Pour over bean threads and toss lightly.

  4. Arrange dressed bean threads on a serving platter. Cover bean threads with bean sprouts. Cover with julienned peppers. Cover with julienned duck meat and Jesuits' Nuts.

  5. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender. Pour over salad. Toss lightly and serve.

© 2010 Gordon Nary


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