Matius Vitelleschi General # 6

General from 1615 to 1645



He was born in 1563 in Venice, that glorious jewel of the Adriatic, not far from Bologna where the Council of Trent was in full session, having transferred from Trent for lack of space. In 1583, at the age of 20, he entered the Society whose reputation was enormous with a membership of over 10,000 and more than 400 colleges throughout Europe. After his training in the Society he was put to teaching Philosophy and Theology, but after 10 years he became Rector of the English College, which possibly influenced him later on as General to make England a separate Province and to establish a Novitiate in London. Eventually he became the Provincial of Rome and then of Naples and in 1608 became the Assistant for Italy.

After the death of Aquaviva the 7th General Congregation was called for November 5, 1615 and would last until January 6, 1616. On November 15, 1615, Vitelleschi at 51 years old was elected the 6th General of the Society.

He has often been criticized for his mild rule, still the Society grew to over 16,000 members and 35 provinces. In his governance he stayed within the guidelines of St. Ignatius and proceeded with determination and gentleness. He had established the tenure of Superiors and how often there should be a General Congregation.

After 29 years and 3 months as General he died at the venerable age of 82 on February 9, 1645 and his remains were placed in the crypt of the Gesú.