Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ, and former Provincial Fr Steve Curtin SJ, have presented Pope Francis with a special gift of Sevenhill wine at a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society.
Fr McCoy and Fr Curtin were joined by Fr Minh-Uoc Pham SJ for the Tertian Directors Meeting in Rome, which coincided with the anniversary celebration on 7 August.
The three Australian Jesuits and their fellow tertian directors joined the Pope for morning Mass, and then met with him afterwards. They presented him with a twin-pack of Sevenhill wine that had been especially created for the celebration of the Restoration and in memory of St Joseph Pignatelli.
The celebration was a special occasion for Jesuits around the world. It marked the 200th anniversary of the end of a period of exile from the Catholic Church, when Pope Pius VII ended the suppression of the Jesuits. The date took on even greater significance after Francis became the first Jesuit Pope last year.
To mark the anniversary, the following account was uploaded onto the www.sj2014.net blog. The blog was launched earlier this year to provide worldwide coverage of the important event in the life of the Society:
Pius VII who had been a prisoner of Napoleon had returned to Rome at the end of May. His main task was the religious reconstruction of Europe, which was in turmoil and chaos at the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. Many requests and demands had come to him from civil and ecclesiastical leaders for Jesuits, who had been partially restored. The original intention was to universally restore the Society on July 31st - the feast of St Ignatius, their founder. However, difficulties in the composition of the Bull delayed that. The Cardinals consulted were debating about such delicate matters as apportioning the blame for the suppression, how some civil governments would receive the universal restoration of the Jesuits, whether the Society's Institute should be altered and the general tone of the document. It was down to the energy of Cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca that the Bull, "Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum", was ready for the Octave of Ignatius' feast - 7 August, 1814.
So on this day, at the altar of St Ignatius at the Gesù, Pius VII offered the Sacrifice of the Mass. Then in the Chapel of Nobles - and in the presence of a large crowd, overflowing from the small chapel Monsignor Cristaldi read aloud the Bull alongside Pius. The crowd included cardinals, royalty and about one hundred and fifty Jesuits, survivors from the Suppressed Society. Reading it aloud, Pius abrogated Clement XIV's Bull suppressing the Society and commended to 'the nobility of princes and temporal lords, and also our venerable brother archbishops and bishops, and others in any seat of honour, this oft mentioned Society of Jesus, and each of its members, and we plead with them and exhort them not only to accept them, not allowing them to be disturbed by anyone, but to receive them kindly and, as is becoming, with charity'.
In the Bull Pius VII - a Benedictine - stated that this was something that he had earnestly desired since the beginning of his pontificate. After the reading out of the Bull, one by one, in a powerfully poignant moment, the aged men who had experienced the pain of exile and suppression knelt before the Pope. To each the smiling Pius exchanged a few words. Then he returned to the Quirinale amidst cheering crowds.
A great irony was the presence in Rome of the two monarchs of Spain, King Charles IV and Queen Maria Luisa, who had been expelled by the revolution in their own country, Spain having so efficiently and ruthlessly exiled the Jesuits. They did not attend the ceremony. But they visited the Gesù several days later to pay their respects. Many Spanish Jesuits gathered to greet them - and the son of the Spanish King who had exiled them wept.