John Paul Oliva General # 11
General from 1664 to 1681
Oliva was a native of Genoa and had entered the Society in 1616. He had been Rector of the German College, Master of Novices, and an outstanding preacher. To his credit, also, and for the benefit of the Society he was on good terms with four Popes.
During the seventeen years and four months of his generalate, Europe was not a peaceful place and Oliva's Jesuits and their works were in constant peril. The Thirty Years War was still being fought; Louis XIV was on the French throne at Versailles for the glory of France and to the misery of the rest of the world. Catholics were persecuted and condemned for a supposed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London.
But he also had some consoling moments. The Sacred Heart had appeared to a nun in France whose confessor was a Jesuit. The Church of St. Ignatius was finally finished to the admiration of all in 1642. Decoration of the Gesí and the Novitiate Church of St. Andrea al Quirinale was finished to the satisfaction of its architect Bernini, who was a close friend of Oliva.
Oliva died on November 26, 1681 after 17 years and four months as General. His remains were placed in the customary manner in the ossuary reserved for Jesuit Generals in the crypt of the Gesù.