Jesuits in New Orleans

Jesuits in New Orleans have a rich history

While there are a number of my friends who attended Brother Martin High School who don’t see the need to recognize Jesuits in any way, there are times when they make good characters. You can’t deny the mystique of the Society of Jesus. The current pope is a Jesuit, and the order has a fascinating past. In fiction, the Jesuits are sometimes depicted as revolutionaries, colonizers, politicians, and diplomats. The order is holy, spiritual, committed to education, and shadowy. In his novel The Sum of All Fears, Tom Clancy’s leading man, Jack Ryan, has a Jesuit for a mentor. Do the Jesuits use one-time cypher pads and encryption software? Do they communicate back to Rome in Ancient Greek? It sounds out there, but it didn’t blow up my willing suspension of disbelief.

In fiction set in New Orleans, it makes sense to include Jesuit-educated characters. Many of my fellow Crusaders express disdain for “that school on Carrollton and Banks,” as Brother Jean Sobert, SC, branded Jesuit High School. Still, they went on to university at Jesuit institutions, such as Loyola University New Orleans. Loyola’s School of Law produces a large portion of our local legal community. Yes, you can write a local story that excludes the Jesuits, that leaves out a lot of local color/flavor.

Jesuits with Talents?

So, my Talents universe needed some Jesuits. Thing is, how do you tell a Jesuit priest from, say, your typical diocesan priest, tending his flock in a parish in metro New Orleans? They all wear black with the Roman collar. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart used to wear large, pectoral crosses back in the 1970s. They now have a unique cross that includes a simple heart in the design. The Jesuits use stylized versions of the letters IHS as a symbol of the order. IHS = “Iesus Hominum Salvator” – Jesus, the savior of men.

This version of the IHS badge is attributed to the Society’s founder, St. Ignatius Loyola, dating back to 1541.

I Googled around for variations on this theme, and came across an Etsy shop selling a version of the IHS badge they say dates back to the Second French Empire (top). An original is a great item for a young Jesuit to wear.