from Campion-Knights Website


THE PLAN of the proposed rule follows and is this:

In our society, which we wish to be called by the name Jesus, let whoever desires to fight under the sacred banner of the Cross, and to serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity,-let him keep in mind that he is part of a society, instituted for the purpose of perfecting souls in life and in Christian doctrine, for the propagation of the faith through public preaching, ministering the word of God, spiritual macerations, works of charity, and especially through the teaching of the young and uninstructed in the Christian precepts; and lastly for giving consolation to believers in hearing their confessions. Let him think first of God, then of the rule of this order, which is the way to Him; and let him follow after the end proposed by God with all his strength. Let each one, nevertheless, rest in the grace given him by the Holy Spirit, and in the proper grade of his calling, and lest anyone use zeal but not discretion, let the deciding of the grade of each, of the offices, and whole arrangement be in the hands of the general or prelate selected through us, in order that the harmony so necessary in all well-governed institutions may be preserved.

Let this general, with the council of his associates, have the power in council to draw up rules suitable for the end proposed, the majority of all voters of the society always having the right of deciding. Let it be understood that there be consultation in regard to the more important or permanent questions, the majority of the whole society, that can conveniently be convoked; in the case of less important or transient matters, all those that are present where the general lives. The right of carrying out laws, however, belongs only to the general.

Let all members know, and let it be not only at the beginning of their profession, but let them think over it daily as long as they live, that the society as a whole, and each of them, owes obedience to our most holy lord, the pope, and the other Roman pontiffs, his successors, and to fight with faithful obedience for God. And however much he may be learned in the Gospel, and however we may be taught in the orthodox faith, let all Christians profess themselves under the Roman pontiff as leader, and vicar of Jesus Christ. For the greater humility of our society, and toward the complete self-mortification of each one, and in order to aid the abnegation of our own wills to the greatest extent, let each one, besides that common obligation, be devoted to this by special vow. So that whatever the present or other Roman pontiffs order that concerns the saving of souls and the spread of the faith, and to whatever provinces he shall wish to send us, this let us strive to accomplish as far as in us lies, without any turning back or excuse; whether he shall send us to the Turks, or to any other infidels, even those living in the lands that are called the Indies; or to any heretics or schismatics, or believers, whatever. Wherefore let those that are about to join us consider long and well, before they put their shoulders to this task, whether they have enough grace for good deeds to mount this citadel at the command of their superiors; that is, whether the Holy Spirit that urges them promises to them enough grace to enable them with God’s help to bear the weight of this calling. And after they have given their name, at the inspiration of the Lord, to the service of Jesus Christ, having thus girded up their loins, they will be prompt to fulfill this grand vow.

Lest in some way there arise ambition or jealousy in regard to such missions or provinces, let all agree never either directly or indirectly to interfere with the Roman pontiff in this regard, but let them leave all such concern to God, and to the pontiff himself, His vicar, and to the general of the society. And let the general himself promise the same as the others, not to take upon himself a mission in any direction unless by the council of the society, with the agreement of the pontiff.

Let each vow to be obedient to the general of the society in all things that concern the fulfillment of these our regulations.

Let him command what he knows to be opportune for the advancement of the ends proposed by God and the society. In issuing these commands, he shall always keep the memory of the kindness, gentleness, and love of Christ, Peter, and Paul, before him, whose example in this rule let the council carefully follow.

Let them have charge especially over the education of children and of the heathen in the Christian doctrine of the ten commandments, and like rudiments, whatever seems suitable to the circumstances of the individuals, and of time and place. It is in fact very necessary in providing this, that the general and council look to it sharply, since it is not possible in the first place to rear an edifice without a foundation of faith, and there may be the danger that as one may be more learned than another, such a one may perchance abandon some province that seems at first sight not promising enough for him, when really no district would be more fruitful, either for instruction, or for training in charity and humility at the same time as our duties. Briefly, then, for the sake of the never enough praised exercise of humility, let them always be held to the obedience of the rule in all things concerning the institution of the society, and let them see Christ in the general as if present, and let them venerate him as is proper.

Since we know by experience that no life is happier, purer, or more apt to aid its fellow than the one most removed from all contagion of avarice, and close to holy poverty, and since we know that our Lord Jesus Christ provides necessary food and clothing for his servants seeking the kingdom of God, let each and all vow eternal poverty, and not to acquire any civil right, either personally, or for the maintenance or use of the society to any property, wherever situated, or to its income, but to be content with the use only of what is given them for meeting their own necessities.

Let them have the power, however, to have a college or colleges at the Universities, having census returns, revenues, or possessions, to be applied to the use and necessities of the students; the thing held to be under control of the general, and the society in accordance with the common government, including the superintendence of these colleges, and students, the method of the choice of governor, or governors, or students, or their admission, dismissal, recall, or expulsion; the introduction of rules for the instruction of the students, or their correction, or punishment, their clothing, and all other government, regulation and management. Nor can the students misuse the estates, nor the society turn them to its own use, but they must be used for the necessary expenses of the students. The students may, however, be admitted to the society after enough training in spirit and in letters, and a sufficient probation.

12. All members whatsoever in holy orders, even if they do not possess church benefices or the revenues of such, are to be bound each of them privately and individually, that is, not in common with others, to repeat the services according to the rites of the church.

13. These are the rules which we have drawn up concerning our profession as a model for the approval of our aforesaid master Paul, and the Apostolic See; this we have done that by this writing we might briefly inform on the one hand those who ask concerning the nature of the life we have instituted, and on the other the future imitators of our example, if by the will of God, there should be any so disposed, how we have intended this life to be lived, since we have learned by experience how many and how great difficulties are attached thereto. No one should be admitted to this society until he has been tried and proved for a long time and very carefully. Then only may he be admitted to the service of Christ, when he has shown himself wise in the wisdom of Christ and his doctrine, and pure in Christian life; and may Christ deign to favor our weak beginnings to the glory of God the father, to whom alone be glory and honor forever in all ages. Amen.

(Papal Confirmation.)

14. But since there is nothing in the above that is not pious and holy, and since those members who have humbly petitioned us in this matter will be more zealous for a holy life if they know that they are held in the special grace of the Apostolic See, and if they see that the above rules are approved by us, we therefore from our certain knowledge approve, confirm and bless by our apostolic rules, all and singly, as being apt for the spiritual progress both of the said members and of the whole Christian flock, and we receive the same members into our special protection and that of the Holy Apostolic See, granting to them the right to establish freely and with full warrant such particular institutions among themselves as they may judge to be suited to the ends of the society, to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord, and to the advantage of all.

15. The constitutions of the general council, and of our predecessor Pope Gregory X, of blessed memory, and all other apostolic constitutions, and ordinations to the contrary notwithstanding.

16. We will, however, that in each society of this kind persons desirous of living by this rule of life to the number of sixty, and not more, may be admitted and added to the said society.

(Warning) Let no one, etc. And if anyone, etc.

Given at Rome at St. Mark’s, in the year of Incarnation of our Lord 1540, the fifth before the Kalends of October, in the sixth year of our pontificate.


BULL OF OCT. 18, 1549.
Paul, bishop, servant of the servants of God.

Although we are ever attentive and well-inclined toward our duty as shepherd to all who follow the regular life, that they may be continued and encouraged in their discipline and praiseworthy life, yet, like a loving father, directing our eyes especially toward the Society of Jesus, instituted and approved by us, which by word and deed among the Christian people has brought and brings now daily, like a fertile field, so many and so rich fruits to the Lord for the glory of the Most High King and for the increase of the faith, we have thought it proper to show especial favor to this society and to its members, who serve the Most High in the odor of sweetness, and therefore to grant them special privileges by which the society may be ruled usefully and guided profitably, and may progress in the Lord for the preservation of souls.

1. Hence it is that we have yielded to the supplications of our beloved sons the recently chosen general prepositus, and the other members of that order, and have granted to the said general prepositus who holds the position at this time, since he has been elected according to the constitutions of that society, that he is to be and is to be considered the true general prepositus of that religion, with full, general, and complete care and administration of all and every thing looking and pertaining to the happy rule and prosperous direction of said society, and that he is to begin to exercise his office in all things and to have full jurisdiction over all the members of this society and over all persons living in its obedience, wherever they may dwell, whatever exemptions they may claim, whatever property they may have.

2. The said prepositus may be and ought to be removed in certain cases in accordance with the rules of the society, by persons receiving the authority for this from the society and appointed for this, and another may and ought to be substituted in his place by the same or other persons as may seem most advantageous in the Lord to the aforesaid persons.

3. And the said prepositus has full power and warrant to go himself or to send his followers to any place whatsoever, even among the heathen, and to recall them, whenever he shall judge it expedient in the Lord, and to transfer them without fixed limit of time to other places when this shall seem to be expedient for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

4. And we determine, decree, and ordain that neither the prepositus without the consent and permission of the society, nor any of the members without the consent and permission of the prepositus may be capable of consenting to or accepting any election or provision from anyone in the dignity of bishop or archbishop or in any dignity whatsoever, through the authority of any prince or of any decree or of any persons having authority to confer such; or to receive an advancement or office in the society itself, if he is seen to be actuated by open or secret ambition for himself.

5. No appeal may be taken from the correction made by a rule which has been instituted according to the constitutions of the society (in order that the vigor of discipline may be maintained), nor can any appeal be taken to any judge, or any absolution from the duties of the society be obtained in this way.

6. The general prepositus and the inferior prepositi of this society are not bound to delegate the members or brothers of the said society to perform any service for patriarchs, archbishops, bishops or other ecclesiastical dignitaries, except by the authority of apostolic letters making specific mention of that society and of the service in question, and if any such members be delegated they are to remain under the discipline of the order and to be recalled when it may seem expedient to the society to do so.

7. Ignatius and his successors as general prepositi of the said society holding the office at the time are to have full and free power to remove or recall those among the brothers who have been delegated to the preaching of the cross or to the inquisition into private heresy, or similar offices, and to make null what these have done in excess of their authority, and to substitute others in the place of them whenever it shall seem expedient.

8. And we grant to the said Ignatius and the general propositi in office at the time the right to absolve by their own authority or by that of those to whom they may delegate such authority, all and each of the members of the said society and all persons living in obedience to it, from all and each of their sins, committed either before or after their entrance into the society, and from all sentences of excommunication, suspension or interdict, and from all other ecclesiastical or secular sentences, censures, and penalties, imposed or promulgated by law or by men in any way whatsoever.

10. Also it is decreed that every member of the society ought to confess his sins to his own prepositus or to one or more delegated for that by his prepositus and designated by the rules of the aid society, unless he has been given the right of his prepositus to choose his own confessor.

12. The general prepositus and the inferior prepositi have full and free power to excommunicate, seize and imprison, or otherwise subject to their discipline by themselves or through others those who have left the society or have become apostates or have even been insolent in any way, or who seem in general to have merited such punishment, in whatever situation they may be found, and the right also to call upon the aid of the secular arms, when it may be necessary.

13. We exempt and absolve this society and all its members and persons and all their possessions, from any superiority, jurisdiction, or correction of any order whatsoever, and we take them under the protection of the Apostolic See.

14. It is also permitted to the general prepositus and by his authority to all the members or brothers of the society of the rank of presbyters, in the places where they live or where they chance to be stopping, to have oratories and to celebrate in them or in any honorable and fitting place, masses and other divine offices even in times of interdict imposed by apostolic authority, with closed doors, in subdued voices, all excommunicated and interdicted being excluded; and to receive ecclesiastical sacraments and to administer them to others.

18. And also any Christians of whatever condition who are present in the meetings of the word of God or at the preaching of the brothers and members of this society, or in churches where they are meeting, may on those days hear masses and other divine services and receive the ecclesiastical sacraments; nor are they bound to attend their own parish churches at these times.

20. And since these members are suffering great poverty in the name of Christ and by their pious zeal of exhortation are directing good men to better things and striving to recall the erring to the way of rectitude, we grant to them the right to dwell freely in the lands of excommunicated, heretics, schismatics, and heathen, and to converse with them (with the permission of the prepositus), and to ask and receive from such persons the necessaries of life whenever they find it expedient to pass through their lands.

21. And of our especial grace we grant by our said authority and of these presents that they are not to be bound to receive correction, visitation, or inquisition in respect to their monasteries or churches or persons, or to admit the cognition of cases or the citations of parties, or pronunciation of sentences of interdict or excommunication or to be under the supervision provided for monks and other religious persons by general apostolic letters or to be provided in the future, unless such letters make specific mention of the case and of this society.

28. Moreover, since we have learned that the people of cities, lands and districts among whom the members have had their dwelling or where they are sojourning, flock to them gladly to be confessed and to receive the holy communion from their hands, in order that they may be able to satisfy those who thus crowd to hear them, we grant to all faithful Christians the right to confess to any member of this society, without first obtaining the permission of their regular rector, and they are not to be bound to confess again those sins which they have confessed and for which they have received absolution from a member of this society.

32. And it is granted to the general prepositus of the society that he may appoint anyone of his members whom he regards as suited to the office the power to teach theology and other branches of learning, no further authorization being required.

38. And considering how great advantage the professors of this society have brought and are bringing to the exaltation of the Christian faith and of the true gospel, we approve, grant and confirm all and every one of the favors, concessions, privileges and graces which have been conceded by us in any way to the aforesaid society, its members and person.

41. And whatever favors, concessions and graces have been conceded by us to the general prepositi of the society at the time in office may be freely and with full warrant exercised by their vicars or other persons considered by the prepositi to be suitable and delegated for the time, especially in the remote parts of India and other such regions.

45. And we command the said society and each of its members in the Lord to our beloved sons in Christ, the illustrious and noble princes and temporal lords, and to our venerable brothers, the ecclesiastical prelates of whatever rank; and we exhort and command them in the Lord not only to see to it that these members are not disturbed or their privileges violated, but also to receive them in kindness and love as is fitting.

46. And we command by this apostolic writing to all and each of our venerable brothers, archbishops, bishops, and to our beloved sons, the abbots, and priors, and to other persons placed in ecclesiastical dignity, and also to all the canons of metropolitan or other cathedral churches, and to the vicars-general and other officials of these archbishops and bishops, wherever constituted, that they themselves or through their delegates solemnly publish these letters and their contents whenever necessary and as often as they are to do so by the said members or any one of them, and that they aid the aforesaid members in the matter of these privileges herein mentioned with efficacious assistance and defense, and they cause these members to enjoy peacefully the privileges granted in these letters by our authority, not permitting them or any one of them to be molested unduly, in respect to the aforesaid privileges or for any other cause by the local authorities or by any persons whatsoever, but giving them complete justice in all cases as against any persons of any condition or rank, of any dignity or authority, patriarchal, archiepiscopal, episcopal, or mundane. Let all these authorities cause to be earned out whatever is ordered by this society and let them declare and cause to be excommunicated and interdicted those who have incurred the censures and penalties of the society.

47. The constitutions and ordinances, etc. . . . notwithstanding. Given at Rome at St. Mark’s in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 1549, fifteenth of the Kalends of November, in the fifteenth year of our pontificate.

Excerpt from The Library of Original Sources 1907.