Research Stream


Eleonora Rai
The University of Western Australia

Politics and Emotions: The Two Faces of Jesuit Sainthood (Seventeenth–Nineteenth Centuries)

This project explores the role of emotions and politics in the Jesuit factory of saints in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, by investigating the rich corpus of documentation stored in the Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (Rome) related to causes for beatification and canonisation of Jesuits. 

San Francesco de Geronimo 'Politics and Emotions: The Two Faces of Jesuit Sainthood (Seventeenth‒Nineteenth Centuries)'

The project investigates how the choice of specific models of sanctity (e.g. martyrs and missionaries) reflected the Society of Jesus’ will to promote a precise image of itself; it also explores how emotions contributed to this decision making process. In this sense, the Suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773 fostered the idea of the Society as a martyr and the Suppression as part of its martyrdom. From that moment, the ‘emotions of the Suppression’ dominated the policy of sainthood of the Order, which promoted the sanctity of martyrs and men of the Suppression, who were considered martyrs as well. This project will shed light on how emotions influenced the strategies of promotion of sainthood within the Society of Jesus, with particular attention to the cause for canonisation of José Pignatelli (the major restorer of the Society of Jesus between 1700s–1800s), Francesco de Geronimo (the only Jesuit beatified during the period of the Suppression, i.e. 1773–1814), and the martyrs of the Old and New Society of Jesus.  

Image: Anonymous portrait of Saint Francesco de Geronimo plus his wax funerary mask. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.