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C

Constitutions

The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus are among the foundational documents of the Jesuit religious order that delineate the norms and practices with regard to their life and mission. Its origins lie in the Deliberations (1539) of the First Fathers that led to the forming of the Society of Jesus (1540). While the Formula of the Institute (1540) broadly outlined the aims and purpose of the Society, it mandated its first Superior General, Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), to expound its ideals into the Constitutions. Ignatius continued to shape the Constitutions until his death; however, in 1547 they had gathered much pace and acquired a new form with the arrival of his Secretary, Juan de Polanco (1517-1576). The definitive version of the Constitutions was approved and printed in 1558-59. The Constitutions incorporate an introductory document called the General Examen; and is further organised into ten parts that deal with the incorporation and life of its members, their mission, and their governance and progress in the Society.