General Congregation facts
  • The first general congregation began on June 19, 1558, almost two years after St. Ignatius’ death; it was composed of 20 members.
  • There have been 30 Superiors General of the Society of Jesus.
  • The longest general congregation, at 145 days, was the 8th (1645-46), while both the 6th (1608) and the 23rd (1883) wrapped up in 38 days.
  • Father Claudio Acquaviva, SJ, elected in 1581, served as Superior General for 34 years — the longest term in Jesuit history. When Pope Gregory XIII heard that Fr. Acquaviva, who was only 37, had been elected, he told the members of the congregation: "Good heavens, you have chosen for your ruler a young man who isn't even 40 years old!"
  • GC 31, which took place during and after Vatican II, met in two sessions in 1965 and 1966, for a total of 141 days.
  • During GC 31 (1965-66), Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ, was elected Superior General.
  • The 10th General Congregation is the only one to have elected two Superiors General. Father Luigi Gottifredi, SJ, was elected first, but he died before the congregation concluded.
  • The 12th congregation (1682) elected Father Charles Noyelle, SJ. He and Ignatius have been the only generals elected with all the votes of the delegates except their own.
  • At the first congregation, delegates debated whether beards should be cultivated in the Society. (The members decided against it.)
  • The fifth General Congregation made it clear that the Society's teachers were to follow St. Aquinas and Aristotle in theology and philosophy.
  • The sixth General Congregation made obligatory a daily hour of prayer and an annual eight-day retreat for all Jesuits.

Sources: Central and Southern Province, Fr. John Padberg, SJ, Midwest Jesuits, Wikipedia

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