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Vincent Caraffa

Vincent Caraffa

Seventh General of the Society of Jesus, born at Naples, 5 May, 1585; died at Rome, 6 June, 1649. He was of the family of the Counts of Montorio and a relative of Pope Paul IV. He entered the Society of Jesus, 4 October, 1604, and was sixty years of age at his election as general. He died four years after. He had taught philosophy and governed the principal house of the Society at Naples, and was provincial at the time of the election to the generalship. In 1635 he had published his "Fascetto di Mirra" (Bundle of Myrrh), which has been translated into several languages. He is the author of several other ascetical works such ascetical works such as

  • Cammino del Cielo,
  • Cittadino del Cielo,
  • Il Peregrino della terra,
  • Idea Christiani hominis, and

Il Serafino, all previous to his election. He wrote under the name of Aloysius Sidereus. His only known writing when general was his encyclical letter: "De mediis conservandi primævum spiritum Societatis" (The means of preserving the primitive spirit of the Society). His short term in office coincided with the beginning of the war of Jansenism on the Society and the troubles with Palafox, Bishop of La Puebla. A great scandal occurred in Spain because of unsuccessful business speculations by a coadjutor brother, and in France on account of the open apostasy to Calvinism of a priest; but the martyrdom of men like Jogues, Brébeuf, Cuthbert Prescott, Neville, and others in Canada and England was an assurance that the Society's ancient fervour had not relaxed. The well-known Confraternity of the Bona Mors, which is now so universal in the Church, was instituted at the suggestion of Father Caraffa.

Daurignac, History of the Society of Jesus (Cincinnati, 1865), VI; B.N., The Jesuits, Their Foundation and History (New York, 1879); Feller, Biog. Univ. (Paris, 1819); De Backer, Bibl. de la c. de J. (Liége, 1858).


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