The Society of Jesus or the Jesuit Order is a religious order consisting of a body of priests who are ordained for apostolic work. The Jesuit order is a all male organization following the teachings and principles of the Catholic Church. They follow the rules laid down by religion, including vows of obedience, poverty and relying on alms to support their lives.The Jesuit Order is considered the largest religious order existing in the world and has a Superior General as its head, elected for life. Jesuits have a good reputation in the field of education as well as their missionary efforts.
The Jesuit Order was a monastic and religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, founded in 1536 by Saint Ignatius Loyola in Paris. The order started off with the mission of caring for the sick but the principal function of the order was to strengthen the position of the pope in the church. The order gained the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540 with the generalship undertaken by the founder. The motto of the Jesuit Order was “For the Greater Glory of God” (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG). Over a period of time the Jesuit order has developed into an effective organization marked by discipline and intellect and came to be referred as the “papal elite troops”.
The Jesuits have an active presence in ministries spread across nearly one hundred and twelve nations over six continents. Their influence has extended to the founding of schools, conversion to Christianity and preventing the growth of Protestantism. Besides the above tri- fold mission of the Jesuit Order, they are also committed to alleviating social injustice, poverty and fight against war and violence. They are trained in various disciplines and are pious men with strong faith and sensibilities.
The training of the Jesuits includes practical, academic and spiritual preparation to discharge the duties of the ministries of the church and the world. They were specially prepared to undertake missions from the Pope. The training for priesthood would normally take eight to fourteen years depending on the person’s background and education. The final vows are taken after several years of training which makes Jesuit formation one of the longest among other religious orders.
The Constitutions of the Jesuit Society does not prescribe any official habit for the Jesuits but lays down certain instructions regarding clothing. The clothing should be in proper shape and conform to the prevailing custom of the country where one lives. Moreover the clothes should not be expensive or ostentatious as Jesuits profess poverty. Though, over a period of time, the cassock became the standard robe of the Jesuits. The style of the cassock was unique as it did not have a buttoned front but secured with a cincture in addition to a tuftless biretta and a cape (ferraiolo). The Jesuits were referred to as “Blackrobes” by the natives of North America during the missionary period, owing to their distinct black cassocks. In recent times, the Jesuits in U.S. are accustomed to use the Roman collar along with the ordinary black clothes of priests.