Today - 198 years ago (Post Restoration)
Why dismantle a successful and thriving education network? It is a pattern that was at the heart of the suppression and has since been repeated in many countries. It seems to be a self-imposed wound especially when done in the name of ‘Enlightenment’ and progress. Education leads to power and influence – especially when you are educating the elite. At the turn of the nineteenth century Jesuit education thrived because of a widespread disenchantment with the Orthodox Church. However by 1816 there is a growing wave of nationalism in Russia, and a resurgent Russian Orthodox Church. In this climate the Jesuits are accused of converting the Russian nobility to Catholicism. This sensitivity is written about brilliantly, later on, by Tolstoy in the epic War and Peace. In Book 2 –which takes place in the first decade on the 19th century - Tolstoy describes the conversion to Catholicism of Prince Kuragin's beautiful and immoral daughter Hélène who is then induced to financially support the Jesuit Colleges. The Jesuits, it is suggested have snared her.
The banishing from St Petersburg is a curious change in fortune – the Jesuits, having recently been restored are eventually to be expelled from the Russian Empire. The only nation that refused to promulgate the brief of suppression now becomes an enemy of the Jesuits. Brzozowski astutely anticipated this and had already dispersed some of his men to countries in Western Europe in order to speed up the restoration of the Society there. Curiously Brzozowski himself – the first General of the Restored Society - is prohibited from leaving Russia by Tsar Paul I. Not allowed to return to Rome to govern the Society - he is to die in Belarus four years later in 1820, at the Jesuit College in Polatsk where he had formerly been rector. That same year the Jesuits would be expelled from all of Russia.
To read more about the Jesuit colleges in Russia - read History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Winter, 1997) : True to the Ratio Studiorum? Jesuit Colleges in St. Petersburg by Daniel L Schafly JR, Professor of History at St Louis University LINK