Any group that rises quickly in power and influence, becomes close to the ones in power, becomes powerful in their own right, amass large amounts of money, and becomes quite popular will be an object of suspicion and rumors. It makes sense. Others watch and wonder how they could be so lucky. Obviously it had to be something unscrupulous, right? People whisper. They create truths that aren’t there. Then truth and fiction become inseparable.
The Jesuits were founded in the early period of the Renaissance and quickly rose in number and power. It did not take long before they became the object of wrath and rumors. The Jesuits became one of the earliest rumored secret societies in history.
The Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus was founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola in 1540. It was originally called “The Company of Jesus” with the intention to educate and send out missionaries throughout the known world. The order grew quickly and spread throughout Europe.
As the order grew, so did their popularity with the papacy. It did not take long before jealousy raised its ugly green head. Many vied for the ear of the papacy and the approval of the reigning Pope. As the Jesuits were in that position, they became the object of hate and persecution.
Suppression of the Order
Enough pressure from royal courts forced Pope Clement XIV in 1773 suppressed the order. The fear had grown to large degrees to where the pope could not ignore it any longer. It came down to supporting the order or losing the following of too many powerful people. It just wasn’t worth it.
This suppression led to assumed approval to persecute the Jesuits. Their property was illegally confiscated across Europe and they were driven underground. It wouldn’t be until 1814 that the order was reinstated by Pope Pius VII as the need for education was seen and the Jesuits were renown for their educational system.
Growth of the Order
Their numbers increased again quickly. It was not long before their numbers were higher than when they were suppressed. Instead of ruining the order or keeping them small from fear, the persecution brought more life to the order than ever before.
With this rise, the presence of the Jesuits was seen throughout royal courts and positions of power. This led to renewed accusations of influencing and controlling governments. Many accused the order of unethical and criminal political moves that resulted in the death of many innocent people. Fear was taking control of all those who feared loss of power.
In League With the Nazis?
One of the most horrific accusations toward the Jesuits is their role in World War II and Nazi Germany. Many have stated that it is the Jesuits who brought Hitler to power, gave him the means to begin his advance against Europe, and the approval and support to exterminate all Jews. There could be nothing worse charged against the order as Europe saw Hitler as Lucifer set to destroy the world.
With the Jesuit influence and money, they supposedly saw a way to keep their power and rid Europe of all that stood against them. If Europe’s power could be removed, the Jesuits could rise further and dominate. They are said to hide under the power of the Church and are the secret army of assassins the Church uses to achieve its means. Their enemies say they will stop at nothing. After all, they did work with the Nazis…or so some say.
Some have even stated their role in the massacres of the Native Americans by Cortez and other explorers. Instead of seeking conversions, it has been said that they wanted to wipe out the people in the New Land so they could help establish their own regime.
There is more. Anyone within and without the Vatican who have opposed the Jesuits have been rumored to have been murdered. They have become the ideal killers to protect their position of power.
This is one secret society that history can support in many areas. The society does exist. It is not one of those that is rumored to exist to explain away events.
It has a long history of influence and power. The popularity it has achieved as well as its favor has given it a strong presence in Europe and beyond.
A review of history shows much jealousy aimed at the order which have resulted in persecution and allegations of murder and corruption. How much of it is true can only be speculated at. They are either the object of power hungry groups, or they really are what their enemies claim.
Further review also supports the contributions they have shared with the world in the area of education. That is still their primary focus.