Jesuits (Societas Jesu). Roman Catholic monastic order founded in 1534 by I. Loyola and approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III. Organized originally to convert Moslems, it became the chief instrument of the Counter-Reformation. It defended and spread the Catholic faith through missions, research, publication, and education. The Jesuits often played an important political role. In 1773 Pope Clement XIV disbanded the order, but it continued its activities in the Russian Empire under the protection of Catherine II. Restored in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, it was expelled from Russia in 1820. The only Ukrainian territory in which the Jesuits continued to operate was Galicia.

Introduced to Poland by Cardinal S. Hosius in the mid-16th century, the Jesuits extended their influence throughout Ukrainian and Belarusian territories. They founded colleges and academies that were emulated by the Orthodox and Uniates. The schools consisted of two levels: the lower with five grades, and the higher with two grades (see Higher education). There were 23 Jesuit colleges in Ukrainian territory. The most important ones were the college in Jarosław (est 1574, enrollment in 1600 approx 60), Lviv (est 1608), Lutsk (1614 enrollment approx 400), Kamianets-Podilskyi (est 1611), Vinnytsia, Bar, Brest, Peremyshl (est 1570), Pynsk (est 1633), and Kyiv (est 1647). Some of them also taught Ruthenian. The sons of many Ukrainian noble families attended these colleges and the Jesuit Academy in Vilnius (est 1570). Ukrainian clergy were often graduates of Jesuit seminaries. Through their schools the Jesuits succeeded in converting large numbers of Ukrainians and Belarusians to Roman Catholicism and in Polonizing them. Prince Kostiantyn Vasyl Ostrozky's sons and Jeremi Wiśniowiecki (Vyshnevetsky), for example, became Roman Catholics.

The Jesuits, particularly Piotr Skarga, Benedykt Herbest, and the papal legate A. Possevino, actively promoted the Church Union of Berestia. Because of their enormous political influence at court and among the Polish nobility and their accumulation of landholdings (including the estates of the Ostrozky family left to them by Princess A. Ostrozka), the Jesuits drew the enmity of the Ukrainian people, and particularly of the Cossacks. During the Cossack-Polish War they were persecuted and driven from Ukraine. In various treaties with the Poles the Cossacks demanded that the Jesuits be expelled from Ukrainian territory. Uniate metropolitans frequently petitioned the Pope to stop the Jesuit practice of converting Uniates to Roman Catholicism.

In 1781, after the abolition of the Jesuit order, the Polish Commission of National Education transferred the Jesuit college in Bar, and various Jesuit buildings in Ovruch, Ostroh, and Volodymyr-Volynskyi, to the Basilian monastic order. In the 19th century the restored Jesuits established monasteries in the larger cities of Galicia such as Lviv, Ternopil, and Stanyslaviv, a boarding school and gymnasium in Khyriv, and a pilgrimage site called Kokhavyna.

In 1882 Pope Leo XIII assigned to the Jesuits the task of reforming the Basilian monastic order. Here the most important work was done by H. Jackowski, K. Szczepkowski, and A. Baudiss. After 1920 an eastern branch of the order was organized in Poland. Its centers were Albertin in Belarus and Dubno in Volhynia, where the Jesuits ran a pontifical seminary. The most prominent figures of this branch were J. Urban, the editor of the bimonthly Oriens, A. Dąbrowski, and the Spaniard J. Morillo, the publisher of the journal Oriente Europeo.

The Jesuits took part in the attempts to bring about a union between the Orthodox of Transcarpathia and Rome; however, because of their policy of conversion to Roman Catholicism and Magyarization, the Jesuits failed in their efforts.

The Jesuit order produced some outstanding historians of the Eastern church such as A. Ammann. Ukrainian members of the order include Rev S. Tyshkevych, the son of Mykhailo Tyshkevych. Some prominent leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic church, including Yosyf Slipy, Konstantyn Bohachevsky, Vasyl Laba, Ivan Stakh, and Andrii Ishchak, were graduates of Jesuit universities in Europe. A number of American universities and colleges at which Ukrainians teach or study are run by the Jesuits.

Pelesz, J. Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom (Würzburg–Vienna 1878–80)
Załęski, S. Jezuici w Polsce, 5 vols (Lviv–Cracow 1900–6)

Wasyl Lencyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1989).]

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