Remembering our ancestors in order to nourish our present times

In many countries with a Christian tradition, November is known as “the month of the dead”. The reason is that on November 1st the liturgical calendar has us celebrate all the saints, especially that “immense cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews, 12,1) whose names have not been remembered but who contributed to making the world a better place in the light of the Gospel. And the following day we commemorate “all the faithful departed,” especially the members of our families who have passed away. It is an opportunity to visit the cemetery to honour our ancestors and to pray for them and with them.

In this same spirit of respect and prayer, the Society of Jesus has chosen a day in early November, the 5th, to celebrate all the saints and blesseds of its history. It is a way of inviting these companions—who were not always well-known in their time but who distinguished themselves through their service—to contribute to the unity of the Society today. As on All Saints’ Day, the Society includes in this feast not only the Jesuits who have been canonised and beatified, but also the countless other companions of Jesus who labored and suffered with dedication and who now enjoy Life with the one in whose footsteps they followed.

All these holy Jesuits can now nourish our own spiritual life and our human commitments through the example they have given us and through our spiritual communion with them.

We asked Fr. Pascual Cebollada, Postulator General of the Society of Jesus for the Causes of Saints, to say a few words on this feast day.


Father Pascual, can you tell us, first of all, how many Jesuits have been canonised and beatified so far?

To date, the Society has 53 saints and 155 blesseds. Of the latter, 149 are martyrs, most of them within groups.

Right now, how many Jesuit companions have an “open dossier” in your office? Which are the ones that need your attention the most?

In the three years that I have been Postulator General, I have dealt with about sixty causes, eight of which are not Jesuits. We also have 35 other “dormant” causes, that is, causes that were begun at one point but are “without movement” for various reasons; it may be that there is no devotion to these Servants of God, or that they don’t have a vice-postulator to promote them.

The cause of Father Pedro Arrupe is the one that requires the most attention at the moment. There are three main reasons for this: the fact that he died in Rome, the enormous amount of his writings that need to be analysed, and the 80 or so witnesses that need to give testimony about him.

Meanwhile, in our daily work we “jump” from one file to another, as they require our attention.

On a more personal level, can you tell us about two or three saints in the history of the Society who have touched you especially and who still nourish your life as a Jesuit?

Saint Ignatius, no doubt, because of his great vision of the ways of God. Also, since the novitiate, I have been very attracted to Saint Peter Faber, because of his character, his relationships with people, his ability to give the Spiritual Exercises, his pilgrimage across half of Europe to console and reconcile, and his ease in seeing God in everything. At the same time, some “urban” saints and blesseds, such as Fathers José María Rubio, Alberto Hurtado, and Rupert Mayer, have always captivated me for their ability to detect the needs in the cities and to respond to them by helping people, materially and spiritually, in the short and long term.

Watch the video "Discovering the hall of the Jesuit Saints" (in Italian with subtitles):

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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