The Jesuits: In the Making of a World Religion

Simon Ditchfield looks at the achievement of Ignatius Loyola and sees the Society of Jesus, which he founded, as the first organization with a truly global reach.

Vertigo sufferers visiting the Baroque church of S. Ignazio in central Rome are well advised to take a stick, or better a sure-footed friend, to hold onto when they look up to admire the frescoed vault painted in 1691-94 by the Jesuit Andrea Pozzo. A master of perspective and painterly illusion, Pozzo constructed a spectacular trompe l’oeil architectural framework that takes the viewer out through the nave ceiling, beyond personifications of the four continents of Europe, Africa, Asia andAmerica, into celestial space. Here the founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) sits on a cloud gazing in rapture at the figure of Jesus holding the Cross.

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