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Claudius Aquaviva

1543-1615. Fifth general of the Jesuit order. Born into the aristocratic family of the duke of Atri, in Abruzzi, he became a student of civil and canon law at Perugia. He was a Jesuit novitiate in Rome in 1567, served as a provincial at Naples and Rome, and was elected superior general in 1581. A gifted leader and statesman, he consolidated the work of the order and promoted its wider influence. His leadership was tested in the early days of his generalship: persecution in England, trouble with the Huguenots in France, unpopularity of the order resulting in expulsion from Venice, and division within the society in Spain, organized by C. Vasque, backed by Philip II and the pope. Aquaviva placated the pope and withstood a demand for an examination into the order's constitution by the Inquisition (a possible indication of the rivalry between Dominicans and Jesuits). An attempt by Sixtus V to alter the order's organization was averted by the pope's death. During Aquaviva's leadership the society developed its missionary work, e.g., substantial work in Japan and educational work in the Philippines. The order was also involved in theological controversy, in particular with the Dominicans on the matter of grace. Aquaviva stressed the spiritual life and discipline with the establishment of a system of rules that have been the basis of the Jesuit system of education, Ratio Studiorum, issued finally in 1599, as well as a comprehensive interpretation of Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises.