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Jesuits In Venice


The Jesuits and Venice have a long-lasting relationship that started at the times of the foundation of their religious order. It is from Venice that Ignatius of Loyola set sail in 1523 with the ships of the Serenissima to Jerusalem as a begging pilgrim, and returned to the city in 1535, where he stayed until October of 1537. There, with his companions, he elaborated the future project of founding the Society of Jesus, universally known as the order of the Jesuits.

Many years later, as the Republic of Venice came into conflict with the pope, on the 6th of May 1606 Paul V declared the interdict against it and the Republic reacted stating that all of the priests had to continue practicing their ministry. Of course, the Jesuits could not accept this order, that would have opposed them to the Holy See, and on the 11th of May, on four ships they left the city, where the government called them enemies of the Republic. They were expelled from anywhere in the state, with a specific note that stated that in no time and for no reason they would have been readmitted.

The Jesuits could come back to Venice in 1656, settling in the current Campo dei Gesuiti next to Fondamenta Nuove, in the ancient and later expanded convent of the order of the Crutched Friars, where they built the current monumental complex of the Collegio.
Between 1710 and 1735 the beautiful baroque church of Santa Maria Assunta ai Gesuiti on a project by the architect Domenico Rossi.

The Jesuit Fathers were expelled and dispersed again in 1773, when the otherwise mild-mannered Franciscan pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus to appease politically the catholic governments in Europe. The building of the Collegio was designated as a public school and then as a barrack.
When the order was re-established by the Benedictine pope Pius VII, elected in a conclave in Venice in the abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore, Ignatius’s sons took possession of his church in 1843. They too suffered the unlucky events of the italian Risorgimento, which caused the suppression of religious institutes and the confiscation of their goods (1866). The Jesuits, after four years resumed their pastoral activities and in 1897, they settled in the current residence right next to the church.