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American Jesuits and the World:
How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global
John T. McGreevy

Hardcover | 2016 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691171623
328 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 18 halftones. 1 table. 2 maps.
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At the start of the nineteenth century, the Jesuits seemed fated for oblivion. Dissolved as a religious order in 1773 by one pope, they were restored in 1814 by another, but with only six hundred aged members. Yet a century later, the Jesuits numbered seventeen thousand men and were at the vanguard of the Catholic Church's expansion around the world. In the United States especially, foreign-born Jesuits built universities and schools, aided Catholic immigrants, and served as missionaries. This book traces this nineteenth-century resurgence, showing how Jesuits nurtured a Catholic modernity through a disciplined counterculture of parishes, schools, and associations.

Drawing on archival materials from three continents, American Jesuits and the World tracks Jesuits who left Europe for America and Jesuits who left the United States for missionary ventures across the Pacific. Each chapter tells the story of a revealing or controversial event, including the tarring and feathering of an exiled Swiss Jesuit in Maine, the efforts of French Jesuits in Louisiana to obtain Vatican approval of a miraculous healing, and the educational efforts of American Jesuits in Manila. These stories place the Jesuits at the center of the worldwide clash between Catholics and liberal nationalists, and reveal how the Jesuits not only revived their own order but made modern Catholicism more global.

The result is a major contribution to modern global history and an invaluable examination of the meaning of religious liberty in a pluralistic age.

John T. McGreevy is dean of the College of Arts and Letters and professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. His books include Catholicism and American Freedom: A History. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.


"McGreevy's deeply researched work sheds significant light on the European Jesuits' role in shaping modern America."--Publishers Weekly

"This book is a sensational eye-opener, even for me, a Jesuit for the past forty-six years. While I knew the oft-quoted rough denunciations of the Jesuits by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, I had no idea of how deep and pervasive American anti-Jesuit sentiments were--nor why they were so extreme, nor how they were overcome--until I read McGreevy's splendid work. . . . Groundbreaking. . . . [An] extraordinarily rewarding work."--James F. Keenan, Commonweal

"In a study stunning in the breadth and depth of its international contextualization, John T. McGreevy, through a focus on five emblematic developments in the late 19th century, has deftly captured this remarkable growth of the Jesuit institutional presence in the United States and its intellectual evolution from a countercultural body under siege to one ‘at home' with American culture and institutions, while recapturing the global vision of its 19th-century founders."--Robert Emmett Curran, America

"McGreevy explains the twists and turns of [Jesuit] history and dissolves the apparent paradoxes."--Patrick Allitt, Weekly Standard

"There really ought to be better books about the American Jesuit experience, especially ones that move beyond educational case studies or the predictable crowd of well-travelled missionaries. In this panoramic and limpidly written study McGreevy sets a fine example."--Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations vii
Introduction 1
1 Nineteenth-Century Jesuits and Their Critics 8
2 Ellsworth, Maine: Education and Religious Liberty 26
3 Westphalia, Missouri: Nation 63
4 Grand Couteau, Louisiana: Miracle 104
5 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Americans 142
6 Manila, Philippines: Empire 179
Conclusion 210
Abbreviations Used in the Notes 225
Notes 229
Acknowledgments 297
Index 301

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