2007 | 6 | 9-35
Article title

THE URBAN STRATEGY OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS AND ITS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE TERRITORY OF LATVIA (Jezus biedribas urbana strategija un tas istenosana Latvijas teritorija)

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In 1558, during the First General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (Societas Jesu), the question of the shape and functionality of Jesuit residential buildings was clarified. Still much more attention was paid to the location of the new buildings. Firstly, there was an aspiration to take an active part in the modern world, responding to its needs and taking into account its possibilities. This tendency largely sets the Society of Jesus apart from other Catholic groups. Ignatius Loyola's correspondence and decrees passed officially later voiced a call for members of the order to reach places as central as possible to get into a closer contact with the town inhabitants. On the one hand, these were Jesuits' aims and principles that prompted to try launching activities in the centre of each newly converted territory, on the other - factors that largely favoured realisation of their ideas and should be regarded as closely connected with political processes and attempts of the spiritual power to maximise its influence and restore the prestige of the Church. Often the missionaries of the Society were invited by the local secular ruler to come there and start their work. Secular rulers considered Jesuits' requests for priority location in the town and allotted space for their residences in strategically most important places (often near town halls, rulers' residences, important trade routes etc.). This background shows that Jesuits' arrival in the territory of Latvia together with the King Stephen Bathory who supported their activities at St. James' and St. Mary Magdalene's Churches in Riga is quite consistent. A similar tendency is found in Jelgava, capital of the Duchy of Courland, where the members of the Society were invited by the ruling persons and worked in a modest church but still located at the town centre. A church was built also in Kuldiga next to the market square, and this place perfectly suited the wish of the Jesuits to operate actively in the heart of the town. Still, like in other places, in spite of the protectorate of rulers and most convenient circumstances, Jesuits had to meet much intolerance and hate on the part of the townspeople, especially Lutherans. But members of the order kept up with their spiritual care and educational work according to their mission.
  • Kristine Ogle, Latvian Academy of Art, Kalpaka bulvaris 13, Riga LV-1867, Latvia
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