The Suppression of the Jesuits in Spain

January 18, 2016

The case of the Suppression in Spain is the strangest of all.  Here is what happened:

At midnight between the first and second of April, 1767 sealed royal orders were opened by the governors of each of the provinces of what was at that time Spain’s vast global empire.  They had been dispatched by King Charles III who was a faithful and devout man and had previously been a great supporter of the Society of Jesus which had been founded by a Spaniard, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, more than two centuries previous.  The result of the order was as follows:

At dawn on April 2, 1767 the local magistrates were ordered to round up all members of the Society of Jesus within their jurisdictions, to confiscate the order’s property, to march these priests and religious out of their houses with only a breviary and the clothes on their back to the sea, to put them on ships where they would be sent in miserable conditions on an ocean journey that for some covered half the globe and unceremoniously dumped on the shore of the Papal States in central Italy.

What was the reason?  Charles III didn’t say.  He only stated that his motives were “kept in the royal heart.”  And moreover it was forbidden within his vast realm to correspond with the exiles or even to discuss the matter, under pain of high treason.  

So we don’t know the reason, but in later times more evidence surfaced and shed a clearer light on the matter.  Charles III had entrusted his government to a certain Count Aranda who was his something like a prime minister.  The monarch put all of his confidence in this man as regarded the affairs of his kingdom.  It turned out to be a mistake.  This man was a follower of Voltaire and greedily imbibed the ideas that were darkening the human mind during the middle part of the 18th century.  This count seems to have formed a league with a Bernardo Tanucci of Naples, another dominion of the Spanish crown, who seems to have gained some influence over Charles III when he had previously been ruler of Naples and who had also drunk the intellectual poison of his time and was trying to destroy the influence of the Catholic Church on the Italian peninsula by any means at his disposal.

These two seem, along with others, to have combined to put an idea in the mind of Charles III that the Society of Jesus was a threat to his kingdom.  What was this threat?  We don’t know exactly but a story emerged some time later that has a ring of truth to it.  De Ravignan writing in the 1850s recounts a story told to one of the exiled Jesuits by a “high Spanish official” travelling in Italy some time after the expulsion.  The story went that Charles III had been convinced by members of his circle that the Jesuit general in Rome at the time was holding in secret certain evidence that Charles III was illegitimately conceived and therefore not the real king of Spain.  Supposedly he was holding this for the moment that was right when Charles III could be deposed and his brother placed on the throne.

One can see here the fruits of the labor of Pombal and Voltaire.  The propaganda had been spread and the field had been watered that Jesuits were hoarding wealth in order to topple the thrones of Europe.  No evidence has ever been found that this was the case. It is important to remember though, as I have stated previously, that while the Society of Jesus was not plotting revolution, someone was.  It was in fact the people who were spreading this nonsense, as later events would bear out.

Go to Confession and please pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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