Regimini militantis Ecclesiae

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Fresco of Approving of bylaw of Society of Jesus depicting Ignatius of Loyola receiving the papal bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae from Pope Paul III. Fresco was made by Johann Christoph Handke in Church of Our Lady Of the Snow in Olomouc after 1743. Regimini militantis Ecclesiae.jpg
Fresco of Approving of bylaw of Society of Jesus depicting Ignatius of Loyola receiving the papal bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae from Pope Paul III. Fresco was made by Johann Christoph Handke in Church of Our Lady Of the Snow in Olomouc after 1743.

Regimini militantis Ecclesiae (Latin for To the Government of the Church Militant ) was the papal bull promulgated by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540, which gave a first approval to the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, but limited the number of its members to sixty.

Papal bull type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church

A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden seal (bulla) that was traditionally appended to the end in order to authenticate it.

Pope Paul III Pope

Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549.

Society of Jesus male religious congregation of the Catholic Church

The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church for men founded by Ignatius of Loyola and approved by Pope Paul III. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.



Ignatius of Loyola and his companions had made their way to Rome in October 1538, to offer their priestly services to the pope. As they were about to be dispersed by the various missions given them by the pope, the question arose as to whether they wished to remain spiritually "one". After prayer and discussion they decided positively: since Christ had brought them together, they felt it was His will they remain united. A charter was proposed to the pope, which was received favourably and ultimately given solemn approval in this Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae of 1540. [1] [2] The first group of Jesuits, then known simply as "reformed priests", proceeded to unanimously elect Ignatius as their Superior General, despite his opposition. [3]

Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Saint, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian, who co-founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General at Paris in 1541. The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions. They therefore emerged as an important force during the time of the Counter-Reformation.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Superior General of the Society of Jesus leader of the Society of Jesus

The Superior General of the Society of Jesus is the official title of the leader of the Society of Jesus – the Roman Catholic religious order which is also known as the Jesuits. He is generally addressed as Father General. The position sometimes carries the nickname of the Black Pope, because of his responsibility for the largest Catholic, male religious order and is contrasted to the white garb of the pope. The thirty-first and current Superior General is the Reverend Father Arturo Sosa, elected by the 36th General Congregation on October 14, 2016.

The final approval, with the removal of the restriction on the membership number, came in the bull Exposcit debitum (en: The duty requires ...) of July 21, 1550, issued by Pope Julius III. [2]

Exposcit Debitum is the title of the Papal bull that gave a second and final approval to the foundation of the Society of Jesus. It was issued by Pope Julius III on 21 July 1550. It replaced Regimini militantis Ecclesiae of 1540. The structure of the text is the same but, based on 10 years experience, some modifications were introduced:

  1. the limitation to 60 members was dropped;
  2. it allowed the admission of Coadjutors, that is: zealous but uneducated priests and competent lay people desirous to offer their life for an apostolic service The temporal coadjutors have always taken the same three vows of religious life, and are nowadays called 'Jesuit Brothers';
  3. Defence of the faith is added to its Propagation as an aim of the Society of Jesus.
English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Pope Julius III 16th-century Catholic pope

Pope Julius III, born Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 7 February 1550 to his death in 1555.

The papal text of 1540 included what is known as the Formula Instituti. [2] More developed Constitutions were gradually written by Ignatius and approved by the first General Chapter (called "General Congregation") of the Society of Jesus convened in 1558, two years after Ignatius' death. This first General Congregation also elected his successor. [3]


Regimini militantis Ecclesiae reflects the first Jesuits' vision of themselves, approved by the pope. Perceiving the needs of their time they emphasized preaching and teaching children and unlettered persons in elementary Christian doctrine. They could “set up a college or colleges in universities capable of having fixed revenues, annuities, or possessions which are to be applied to the uses and needs of students” but could not accept such fixed income for their own houses. However, the revenues could be used for the maintenance of the scholastics who taught in the colleges and would be admitted to the Society “after their progress in spirit and learning has become manifest and after sufficient testing.” Jesuits were to accept any missions to which the pope would call them through the superior, and not to themselves negotiate with the Pope about these missions. The superior was to establish constitutions which were to be voted on by those around him. [2]

The full, critically edited Latin text is to be found in the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (MHSI), Constitutiones, vol.1, Rome, 1934, pp. 24-32. Also in Reich, Documents, pp. 216-219, and a condensed version in Robinson, European History, ii. 161-165.

The Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (MHSI) is a collection of scholarly volumes on critically edited documents on the origin and early years of the Society of Jesus, including the life and writings of St Ignatius of Loyola.

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