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Solemnity of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (January 3)
Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus
The foundational experience which led Ignatius and his companions to call themselves "Company (Society) of Jesus" is traced back to the vision at La Storta.
Ignatius and two of his companions, Peter Faber and James Lainez, travelled from Venice to Rome in 1538 to place themselves and the other companions at the disposal of the Pope. A few miles outside of Rome at a chapel at La Storta, the companions stopped to pray. At this spot, Ignatius had the second most significant of his mystical experiences. In his vision, God the Father told Ignatius, "I will be favourable to you in Rome" and that he would place him (Ignatius) with His Son. Ignatius did not know what his experience meant, for it could mean persecution as well as success since Jesus experienced both.
From the later writings of his companion Lainez, we know the following: "He [Ignatius] told me that God the Father had imprinted on his heart these words - I will be propitious to you in Rome... It seemed to him that he saw Christ with the cross on his shoulders, and near Him the Father who said to Him, ‘I wish you to take this man as your servant.' And Jesus so took him, and said to [Ignatius], ‘I want you to serve us.' And hence, having great devotion for this most holy name, [Ignatius] wished the congregation [of these companions] to be called the Company of Jesus."
Formal approval of this new order was given by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540. Since they had referred to themselves as the Company of Jesus, in English their order became known as the Society of Jesus.
Earlier, The Society of Jesus celebrated 1 January as the Title Feast, Since the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus occurred on that day along with the Feast of the Mary Mother of God. In the revision of the universal calendar in 1996, the separate Feast of the Holy Name was restored (to 3rd January). However, the Society of Jesus retained for some years the practice of celebrating this feast with that of Mary Mother of God on 1st January.
On 3 December 2012, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, wrote a letter to the whole Society, declaring the decision to make changes in the Liturgical Calendar (Proper to the Society) to correlate with the universal liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. Therefore, now, the Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus is celebrated on 3 January, on the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
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