A lot has already been made of Pope Francis’ firsts: First non-European pope in a millennia, the only pontiff to come from Latin American, the inaugural “Francis” in papal lineage. He is also the first Jesuit pope.
So what does that mean?
The Society of Jesus
St. Ignatius of Loyola and a small band of followers at the University of Paris founded the Society of Jesus in an effort to reform the Catholic Church in 1534. Rather than break off as a separate church, the Jesuits became a distinct order of priests in 1534 and received commendation from Pope Paul III in 1537. Sometimes called “God’s Marines” or “The Company,” Jesuit priests take vows of poverty and chastity, and pledge obedience to the pope.
Spreading the word, catching some heat
Missionary work is a core Jesuit value, a fact that has sometimes gotten the priests into hot water.