The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola and since then has grown from the original seven to 24,400 members today who work out of 1,825 houses in 112 countries. In the intervening 455 years many Jesuits became renowned for their sanctity (41 Saints and 285 Blessed), for their scholarship in every conceivable field, for their explorations and discoveries, but especially for their schools. The Society is governed by General Congregations, the supreme legislative authority which meets occasionally. The present Superior General Fr. Pater-Hans Kolvenback, S.J. is Dutch. Ignatius Loyola was a Spanish Basque soldier who underwent an extraordinary conversion while recuperating from a leg broken by a cannon ball in battle. He wrote down his experiences which he called his Spiritual Exercises and later he founded the Society of Jesus with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540.
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