Spirituality for Today – November 2009 – Volume 14, Issue 4

Saint of the Month

St. Joseph Pignatelli – November 15

The son of nobility, Joseph was born in 1737. Both of his parents died while he was a boy, and Joseph spent much of his youth at a Jesuit school. At age 16, he joined the Society of Jesus. Joseph taught and served as a prison chaplain, often comforting inmates awaiting execution.

An Illustration of Saint Joseph PignatelliSaint Joseph Pignatelli

In 1767, fearing the Jesuits' power in civil affairs, the king of Spain banned them from practicing their faith, which had already happened in France and Portugal. As a nobleman, Joseph could have stayed in Spain on the condition that he leave the Order, but he refused. As the Spanish Jesuits prepared to leave their homeland, Joseph was named their leader. After sailing to Corsica, Joseph and his brothers settled in Italy and were joined by Jesuits from Latin America.

A few years later, the Society was banned completely. Joseph moved to Bologna, Italy, where he used his family's wealth to help support former members of his Order. Meanwhile, the Jesuits found hope for their survival from Empress Catherine II or Russia, who had refused to ban the Order, and Jesuits gathered I her realm. Then, in 1792, the Duke of Parma offered his protection to some Italian Jesuits living in Russia, and the returned to Italy.

In 1797, Joseph felt it was also safe for him to return. He renewed his vows and spent the rest of his life rebuilding the Order. He opened several Jesuit schools and, in 1804, he was named head of the Order in Italy. Joseph, however, suffered from poor health, as an earlier bout of tuberculosis continued to bother him. He died in Rome on November 15, 1811. Three years later, the Society of Jesus was completely restored.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
Whatever I have or hold, You have given me.
I restore it all to You and surrender it
wholly to be governed by Your will.
Give me only Your love and grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

- Prayer by St. Ignatius Loyola

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives