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Historical Archives Curiosities and news The essay of a future Jesuit

The essay of a future Jesuit

For many fathers and brothers the vocation came at an early age. Sometimes letters survive from the aspiring novice asking to enter the Society, telling of his vocation.

Today we will read the words of a future Jesuit. They do not come from the canonical letter written to the Provincial asking to enter the novitiate, but were written on the school desk when he was only twelve years old.

It is 9 September 1926, and a child from Grotte di Castro is given the following assignment: ‘Write a letter to your friend telling him that you want to become a Jesuit, and after telling him about the life of St Louis, urge him to imitate his virtues.

Dearest friend,

I am writing you this little letter to let you know that I want to become a Jesuit, that is, of the Society of Jesus. I want to become a Jesuit not only because I belong to the Society of Jesus, where one prays and says many beautiful prayers, but because one resembles St Louis. Speaking of St Louis, I want to tell you about his life. St Louis was always good and obedient as a child. In his childhood, he had committed a small sin, that of taking a little packet of powder from the soldiers. When he went to confession, in the church in Florence, that little sin came and fell on the ground. He, made a little bigger, renounced his marquisate in favour of his brother Rodolfo to go to the Jesuits, that is, the Society of Jesus. They called him the angel of purity. In his novitiate and studentate, he showed himself very well in prayers and purity of soul. After this he went to the hospital of the Consolation, where he took great care of the plague victims there. The sickness of these plague victims spread through him and with this sickness he died. But St Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi said: ‘Oh how much glory Louis, son of Ignatius, has in heaven! So you, dear friend, try to imitate St. Louis in his works and virtues, so that you may become like him charitable, good and kind to all. Many greetings from your affectionate friend.

How did the essay survive and why is it in our Archives?

The essay was sent to the member of the Provincia Romana with a footnote: ‘This young man has done the fifth grade. He is kind, good and has made a good impression on Monsignor Bishop Tori of Montefiascone. He comes highly recommended by Signor Orzi with whom I am staying. Both the Capuchins and the Augustinians would like him, but the young man and his aunt in Rome prefer the Society of Jesus […]’.

The writer had therefore understood the child’s vocation and wanted to put him in contact with the Company for enrolment in the apostolic school and then the novitiate at the age of fifteen or sixteen. A foresight that went well: that child would become a Jesuit highly appreciated for his apostolate in various ministries.

The essay is kept in Fr Francesco Brinchi’s personal file.

Maria Macchi