Superior Generals of the Society of Jesus

The Society of Jesus—much like “all well-organized communities or congregations”—appoints a person “whose proper duty,” according to the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, “is to attend to the universal good.” For the Jesuits in particular, the superior general’s “duty is the good government, preservation, and growth of the whole body of the Society.” (Rather than militaristic in tone, the name “Superior General” or “Father General” connotes the general or broad responsibilities of the position.) The qualities desired in a superior general appear Part IX of the Constitutionsthe selection included in the Portal’s Essential Documents. In nearly 500 years, there have only been 31 men who have served as the superior general of the Society of Jesus. Some facts about the 31 fathers general:

  • At the time of their election, the men averaged more than 38 years of service in the Society. Since the restoration, that average has been 41 years.
  • The generals were an average of 58 years old at the time of their election; three were 70 or older upon election.
  • Excluding the current father general, the men have served an average of 5,215 days.

For more on the rationale for the position of the father general, please consult Antonio de Aldama’s The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus: The Superior General, Notes for a Commentary.

Creator: Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies

Description: Chronotaxis of the Secretary General of the Society of Jesus

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