General Congregations


The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus recognized the difficulty in maintaining a unity among Jesuits so dispersed in the world, noting that “the Society cannot be preserved or governed, or consequently, attain the aim it seeks for the greater glory of God unless its members are united among themselves and with their head.” In Part VIII, the Constitutions established measures to aid Jesuits, first, in a union of hearts and, second, in a union of body. The latter union took the form of “general congregations,” which were not to be held too often as to be a distraction. Yet, at other times, selected Jesuits were to congregate to address matters that proved “urgent and of great importance,” such as the election of a new general or to establishment of policies for works worldwide. The General Congregations, in short, serve as the supreme governing authority of the Society of Jesus.

There have only been 36 General Congregations in history, the most recent ending in November 2016. Below are some details of each General Congregation. The decrees and historical contexts for the first 30 meetings can be found in For Matters of Greater Moment. The same for the next five General Congregations appear in Jesuit Life & Mission Today.

For recent scholarship on the General Congregations, please consult these results from the Boston College Jesuit Bibliography.

 

General Congregation Location Start Date End Date Duration of the Congregation, in Days Duration Since the Previous Congregation, in Days Jesuits Worldwide at the Time of the Congregation Jesuits Attending the Congregation Superior General Elected Number of Decrees Issued by the Congregation
General Congregation 01 Rome June 19, 1558 September 10, 1558 83 1,000 20 Diego Laínez 168
(20 before the election, 148 after the election)
General Congregation 02 Rome June 21, 1563 September 3, 1563 75 1,745 3,500 39 Francis Borgia 120
(27 before the election, 93 after the election)
General Congregation 03 Rome April 12, 1573 June 16, 1573 65 3,509 3,905 47 Everard Mercurian 53
(5 before the election, 48 after the election)
General Congregation 04 Rome February 7, 1581 April 2, 1581 74 2,793 5,165 57 Claudio Aquaviva 69
(2 before the election, 67 after the election)
General Congregation 05 Rome November 3, 1593 January 18, 1594 76 4,598 8,519 63 81
General Congregation 06 Rome February 21, 1608 March 29, 1608 36 5,147 10,640 64 47
General Congregation 07 Rome November 5, 1615 January 26, 1616 144 2,777 13,112 75 Muzio Vitelleschi 101
General Congregation 08 Rome November 21, 1645 April 14, 1646 145 10,892 92 Vincenzo Carafa 60
General Congregation 09 Rome December 13, 1649 February 23, 1650 73 1,339 89 Francesco Piccolomini 44
General Congregation 10 Rome January 7, 1652 March 20, 1652 73 683 86 Luigi Gottifredi
Goswin Nickel
18
General Congregation 11 Rome May 9, 1661 July 27, 1661 79 3,337 78 Giovanni Paolo Oliva
(as perpetual vicar general)
36
General Congregation 12 Rome June 22, 1682 September 6, 1682 76 7,635 17,655 85 Charles de Noyelle 57
General Congregation 13 Rome June 22, 1687 September 7, 1687 77 1,750 89 Tirso González de Santalla 23
General Congregation 14 Rome November 19, 1696 January 16, 1697 60 3,361 86 29
General Congregation 15 Rome January 7, 1706 April 3, 1706 74 3,278 19,998 92 Michelangelo Tamburini 11
General Congregation 16 Rome November 19, 1730 February 13, 1731 91 8,996 79 Frantisek Retz 39
General Congregation 17 Rome June 22, 1751 September 5, 1751 76 7,434 22,589 90 Ignazio Visconti 18
General Congregation 18 Rome November 17, 1755 January 28, 1756 73 1,523 86 Luigi Centurione 23
General Congregation 19 Rome May 9, 1758 June 18, 1758 44 832 89 Lorenzo Ricci 12
— [Polish Congregation 1]   [October 10, 1782] [October 18, 1782] [8] [30] [3]
— [Polish Congregation 2]   [October 1, 1785] [October 13, 1785] [13] [30] [8]
— [Polish Congregation 3]   [February 7, 1799] [February 15, 1799] [9] [30] [8]
— [Polish Congregation 4]   [October 15, 1802] [October 25, 1802] [11] [30] Franciszek Kareu
(as Superior General of the Society of Jesus in Russia)
[7]
— [Polish Congregation 5]   [September 8, 1805] [September 19, 1805] [12] [30] Gabriel Gruber
(as Superior General of the Society of Jesus in Russia)
[6]
General Congregation 20 Rome October 9, 1820 December 10, 1820 66 22,758 1,307 24 Luigi Fortis 26
General Congregation 21 Rome June 30, 1829 August 17, 1829 49 3,124 2,137 28 Jan Roothaan 28
General Congregation 22 Rome June 22, 1853 August 31, 1853 71 8,710 5,209 55 Pieter Jan Beckx 45
General Congregation 23 Rome September 16, 1883 October 23, 1883 39 10,973 11,221 72 Anton Anderledy 48
General Congregation 24 Loyola, Spain September 24, 1892 December 5, 1892 74 3,259 13,275 73 Luis Martín 30
General Congregation 25 German College, Rome September 1, 1906 October 18, 1906 48 5,017 15,661 72 Franz Xavier Wernz 19
General Congregation 26 German-Hungarian College, Rome February 2, 1915 March 18, 1915 44 3,029 16,946 87 Wlodimir Ledóchowski 24
General Congregation 27 German-Hungarian College, Rome September 8, 1923 December 21, 1923 104 3,096 18,304 102 316
(19 historical, 2 dispositive, and 295 collected)
General Congregation 28 Rome March 12, 1938 May 9, 1938 58 5,195 25,683 161 46
(18 historical and 28 dispositive)
General Congregation 29 Jesuit Curia, Rome September 6, 1946 October 23, 1946 49 3,042 28,191 167 Jean-Baptist Janssens 38
(22 historical and 16 dispositive)
General Congregation 30 Jesuit Curia, Rome September 6, 1957 November 11, 1957 68 3,971 33,732 185 77
(38 historical and 39 dispositive)
General Congregation 31
— First Session
  May 7, 1965 July 15, 1965 70
General Congregation 31
— Second Session
  September 8, 1966 November 17, 1966 71
General Congregation 31
(Two sessions)
Jesuit Curia, Rome May 7, 1965 November 17, 1966 141 2,734 36,000 224 Pedro Arrupe 56
General Congregation 32 Jesuit Curia, Rome December 2, 1974 March 7, 1975 96 2,938 28,500 236 16
General Congregation 33 Jesuit Curia, Rome September 1, 1983 October 25, 1983 55 3,101 25,952 220 6
General Congregation 34 Jesuit Curia, Rome January 5, 1995 March 22, 1995 77 4,091 22,869 202 Peter-Hans Kolvenbach 26
General Congregation 35 Jesuit Curia, Rome January 7, 2008 March 6, 2008 60 4,675 19,566 224 Adolfo Nicolás 6
General Congregation 36 Jesuit Curia, Rome October 3, 2016 November 12, 2016 41 3,134 16,740 215 Arturo Sosa