The Jesuits are members of a Roman Catholic religious order known as the Society of Jesus. The order was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola. He authored the handbook, "Spiritual Exercises" to help Jesuits and followers of Catholicism more fully experience prayers, in particular the rosary. His method of praying the rosary is known as "the Ignatian way." Several Jesuit priests said daily recitation of the rosary is what saved them from being annihilated by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
The Holy Rosary
The holy rosary is comprised of 20 decades. Each decade represents a mystery in the life of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary. One set of rosary beads contains five decades, and each mystery is made up of five stories. Different days of the week are designated for each set of mysteries. Members of religious orders such as the Jesuits are expected to recite the holy rosary on a daily basis.
The Ignatian Way
Ignatius originally wrote "Spiritual Exercises" to teach Jesuits "to master the soul to manipulate the body" and be in union with Jesus Christ while praying. In practice, the Ignatian way of praying is to visualize what is taking place in the prayers. Ignatius instructed those praying the holy rosary to envision the Gospel scenes, see the people as they would be in real life and hear what they are saying. Ignatius believed that contemplating the mysteries of the rosary in this way would help people better understand Jesus.
Mary and the Rosary
There have been several reports of appearances by the Virgin Mary. In each instance, the witnesses have said Mary requested recitation of the holy rosary in order to obtain saving grace, an end to war and a means of bringing peace to the world. One of the most famous of these occasions is the reported six appearances of Mary to three children that occurred between May and October of 1917 outside the village of Fatima in Portugal.
The Jesuits of Hiroshima
On August 6, 1945, eight Jesuit priests were performing morning routines in their presbytery in Hiroshima, Japan, when the first atomic bomb deployed by the United States was dropped on the city. The presbytery was less than one mile from the bomb's detonation point. Although completely surrounded by devastation, the presbytery remained standing, and the priests were virtually unharmed. Hubert Schiffer, one of the priests, said in later interviews that they attributed their survival to daily recitation of the holy rosary and devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
- History Learning Site: The Jesuits
- CatholicHerald.co.uk: The Priests Who Survived the Atomic Bomb
- TheHolyRosary.org: The Holy Rosary
- Jesuits California Province: Ignation Contemplation
- A Year of Prayer: 365 Rosaries: Why Pray the Rosary Every Day for a Year?
- The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute: Our Lady of Fatima
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images