News
Jesuits Celebrate Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, Electors to General Congregation 36 Pass Through Holy Door of Mercy

By Tracey Primrose

October 7, 2016 — In a driving rain this morning in Rome, 215 Jesuits made the short walk from the worldwide headquarters of the Society of Jesus to St. Peter’s Basilica. They crossed St. Peter’s Square and, like millions of pilgrims before them during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, walked through the Holy Door of Mercy. While singing the official hymn of the Holy Year, “Misericordes sicut Pater” (Merciful Like the Father), the Jesuits passed through the large, ornamental bronze doors opened by Pope Francis last December to inaugurate the Jubilee Year and made their way to the altar at the Chair of St. Peter.


Jesuits, including Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ (second from right), who resigned as the Society's Superior General earlier this week, head to St. Peter’s Basilica. Photo by Don Doll, SJ.

There, they vested, each wearing a white cloth stole embroidered with the Jesuits’ starburst logo and the IHS (symbol for Jesus), for the celebration of the Mass. Presiding at Mass was Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, 76, of the Philippines, the eldest of the group of 215 Jesuit electors gathered in Rome for General Congregation 36, the supreme governing body of the Society of Jesus, which will soon elect a new leader to replace Father Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, 80, who retired earlier this week.


Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ (left), presided at Mass. Photo by Don Doll, SJ.

In several days, the electors will begin four days of conversation, called murmuratio. Outlined by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Society’s first Superior General, in the Jesuit Constitutions, the process provides an opportunity for information gathering and one-on-one discussions about potential candidates for office.

Fr. Nebres, the former longtime president of the Ateneo de Manila University, led the concelebrants in prayer for the group’s coming discernment. “We ask the Father to place us, as he placed Ignatius, with Jesus carrying his cross. We ask the Lord Jesus who called us to the company that bears his name to be propitious to us. We ask the Holy Spirit to give light to our minds and to warm our hearts.”


Photo by Don Doll, SJ

Fr. Nebres later briefly reflected on Jesus and St. Peter, the first pope and Vicar of Christ. He prayed for a fire that “enkindles our hearts during this General Congregation so that we can kindle other fires and give the warmth of the love of God to a world grown cold.”

The centerpiece of the Cathedra Petri — the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, where the Jesuits celebrated Mass — is an enormous gilded bronze monument designed by Bernini in 1666 to enclose an oak throne donated by Charles the Bald upon his coronation in St. Peter’s in 875. On the left wall of the chapel is a monument to Paul III, the pope who approved the Society of Jesus in 1540.


Photo by Don Doll, SJ

When Mass concluded, the Jesuits walked down the main aisle at St. Peter’s, where in the left nave, they passed the statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius is holding a large book open to a page that says Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, For the Greater Glory of God, the Society’s unofficial motto. The opposite page of the book in St. Ignatius’ hand is the Jesuit Constitutions, his exquisitely thorough manual that covers every imaginable detail regarding how to run a General Congregation and how to elect a new Superior General.

It was a fitting end to the celebration of the Eucharist.





Recent News

March 14, 2019 - Fr. Robert J. Kaslyn, SJ, was called to eternal life on March 13, 2019. Fr. Kaslyn was born on April 19, 1956, in Hackensack, N.J., and entered the Society of Jesus on Feb. 20, 1975, and was ordained on June 8, 1985. He pronounced his final vows on July 31, 1997, at the College of the Holy Cross Jesuit Community Chapel, Worcester, Mass.

March 11, 2019 - Fr. Charles B. Connolly, SJ, was called to eternal life on March 9, 2019. He was born on Dec. 16, 1945 in Boston, Mass., entered the Society of Jesus on July 30, 1963, and was ordained on June 8, 1974. He pronounced his final vows on June 12, 1986 at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass.

March 7, 2019 - In his most recent monthly prayer video, Pope Francis spoke on his March intention, Recognition of the Right of Christian Communities. "Let us pray that Christian communities, especially those who are persecuted, feel that they are close to Christ and have their rights respected."

March 4, 2019 — We invite you to join us in praying the Novena of Grace of Saint Francis Xavier (March 4-12).

Feb. 26, 2019 - The Ignatian Solidarity Network announced the first annual Ignite: A Celebration of Justice to be held on May 21, 2019, in New York City. During the evening, the Robert M. Holstein Faith Doing Justice Award will be given to Fr. James Martin, SJ, and Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ.

Feb. 22, 2019 - Fr. Richard J. Hoar, SJ, was called to eternal life on Feb. 22, 2019. Fr. Hoar was born on April 11, 1926, in Buffalo, N.Y., entered the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Aug. 14, 1943, and was ordained on June 16, 1956, at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y. He pronounced his final vows on Aug. 15, 1959 in Koror, Palau.

Feb. 19, 2019 - Fr. George A. Gallarelli, SJ, was called to eternal life on Feb. 18, 2019. Fr. Gallarelli was born on Nov. 25, 1927, in Boston, Mass., entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 14, 1950, and was ordained on June 16, 1962, at Weston College, Weston, Mass. He pronounced his final vows on Aug. 15, 1965, at the Fairfield Jesuit Community, Fairfield, Conn.

view all news

Search news







Campion Renewal Center
Campion Renewal Center, situated 20 miles west of Boston, is located in a peaceful setting that provides plenty of walking trails through the woods and fields.