While there are many days throughout the year that Jesuits are remembered and celebrated, Sept. 27 is particularly special—the anniversary of the founding of the Society of Jesus. On this day in 1540, Pope Paul III issued the papal decree that approved the Jesuits’ charter as an official religious order in the Catholic Church.
Four hundred and seventy-eight years later, friends of the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces marked the anniversary in a unique and inspiring way. On Sept. 27, a group of friends and benefactors were treated to a private tour of the popular exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The exhibit featured papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside of the Vatican.
The tour was led by Fr. Leo O’Donovan, SJ, president emeritus of Georgetown University who now serves as the director of mission for the Jesuit Refugee Service. Father O’Donovan is also the National Catholic Review’s arts commentator, so he was uniquely qualified to provide insight into the “dialogue between fashion and faith,” as portrayed through the medieval art in the Met collection.
Following the tour, some 20 guests with Ignatian ties to multiple Jesuit works on the East Coast gathered for a recap and refreshments at the recently refurbished Jesuit Center, just down the block from the museum.
“How wonderful to have long-time friends and new friends of Fr. O’Donovan gather for this first joint-province event,” commented Sherri Weil, director of advancement for the Maryland Province. “Given the convenient location of the Jesuit Center, there are many more opportunities for such gatherings, which we greatly look forward to as the two Provinces are unified.”
“The exhibit dramatically illustrated the extraordinary influence the Catholic Church has had on artistic and design expression,” said Jim Skurka, provincial assistant for advancement and communications for the Maryland and USA Northeast Provinces. “We are truly grateful to those who attended, for their friendship and for their ongoing support.”