giving a confession or simply in a coma?!
December 10, 1942
HEAD OF JESUITS IS DEAD IN ROME
Rev. Vladimir Ledochowski, the Supreme Leader of Order All OVER World Since 1915
FOURTH LONGEST IN POST
Built up Society, Promoted Inter-Faith Amity, Rights of Labor and Negro in U.S.
By Telephone to The New York Times
BERNE, Switzerland, Dec. 9- The very Rev. Vladimir Ledochowski, Polish born [sic- he was born in Austria] Father general of the Society of Jesus, died in his cell at the Borgo Santo Spirito, headquartered of the Order of the Society of Jesus, acording to a Rome broadcast at 10 o'clock tonight. He was 76 years old. The immediate contributory cause of the death was an operation for an abdominal abscess about a month ago.
Three days ago he appeared to improve slightly, but late yesterday morning his strength began waning rapidly. Owing to a furthe British air raid on Turin again tonight, it was impossible to contact Rome directly for confirmation.
Up to the last he was visited regularly by his Vicar General, Maurice Schourmans, who spent a brief time with him this morning. Shortly afternoon the private nurse saw that his condition was worsenig and called in the doctor in charge. Visitors from then onward were forbidden with the exception of his confessor, who was closeted with Father Ledochowski for about half an hour.
The nomination of the new General will be made by the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, a body comprising some 150 superiors of Jesuit provinces throughout the world. Interim tradition calls for the naming of a Regent General, usually appointed by the dying General. In this case it is believed Schourmans would hold that post aided by a "special curia", consisting of one North American, one South American, an Italian, a Frenchman, a German, a Spaniard, an Englishman and a Slav- all superiors of the order. These men are at present in Rome.
The convocation of the Generak Congregation will, it is believed, be postponed until the end of hostilities owing to the almost insurmountable difficulties many of its members would have traveling to meet in Rome.
Ranked With Loyola
The Very Rev. Father Ledochowski occupied his post for the longest term of any General of the religious organization in its 400 year history, save for three. They were Claudius Aquaviva (1567-1615), Mutius Vitellschie (1615-1645) and Pierre Beck (1853-1887).
But apart from his tenure, his incumbency was marked by the restoration of the Jesuits to the numbers and influence in education, scholarship, the ministry and the missions which they had enjoyed before the temproary supression of the order from 1773 to 1801, in consequence of the cmpaign waged upon it by the leaders of the Enlightenment.
Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, who met Father Ledochowski in 1930, wrote later that "everywhere in Rome I was told that Father Ledochowski would take rank as one of the two or three greatest heads of the Jesuit Order," an estimate which would group him with such men as Ignatius Loyola, the first general; Francisco Borgia, the third, and Aquaviva, the fifth.
Rapid Growth of Society
On the supression in 1773, when the Jesuits disbanded everywhere except in Russia, the order had forty-one provinces and 22, 589 members. Its vicissitudes depleted its ranks, but on the restoration a slow rebuilding began. Under Father Ledochowski's directon the provinces increased from twenty-seven to fifty and the members from 17,000 to 26, 589. Educational and other foundations rose correspondingly.
He enjoyed wide freindships among non-Catholics and was sympathetic toward their religious interests. A great believer in the cooperation of Catholics with non-Catholics, he worked untiringly to promote understanding between religious groups. Deeply interested in the question of the Oriental churches, one of his main activities was the promotion of unity in the Christian church and particularly the reuniuon of East and West.
Under his leadership the society undertook a significent development in the field of foreign missions, establishing new foundations in the Orient and particularly China, in India and teh Near East. He was especially interested in promoting a native clergy in the different mission countries, notably China, Japan and Africa. He also had a special interest in education and in promoting high educational standards among Catholics.
Spurred Social Studies
Toward the close of his life he became deeply interested in social questions and spurred the society to activities in the interest of the rights and welfare of labor and the Christian principles of labor unionism, encouraging the provinces in the United States and elsewhere to establish labor colleges for organized workingmen. He was also keenly interested in the rights and progress of the Negro in the United States and helped to focus the interest of the society here on the needs of the Negroes. His sister, Countess Maria Ledochowski, devoted her whole life to the missions in Africa and her cause for beatification is now being considered.
Like all superiors general of the Jesuits since [sic] the time of the counter-reformation, when the order pressed its reforms even on the Holy See, Father Ledochowski was known as "the Black Pope," black being the colr of the robe of his society of clerics who follow a rule. His tenure, however, was free of the controversies over Jesuit influence on church affars that marked certain of the reigns of his predecessors.
Son of Calvalry Officer
The son of Count Anthony Ledochowski, an exiled Russian Pole who was cavalry officer in the Austrian Army, and of the Countess Ledochowski, who was of Swiss extraction, he was born on October 7, 1866. His uncle was Cardinal Ledochowski, Prefect of the Propaganda of the Holy See.
As a boy he was page in the court of the late Empress Elizabeth of Austria. He stauded in Vienna and that the close of his arts course won the Imperial Prize, the highest honor. After studying law for a year he entered the seminary at Tarnow, Galicia, later studying at the Germanicum in Rome.
He entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Galicia in 1889 and, after ordination, pronounced his finalvows in 1901. He first became a member of the staff of writers on Przeglad Powszechny (The Universal Review), a monthy, of which he was appointed superior in 1898. Becomming well known as a writer and preacher, he was the author of a book on surmons and studies in sociology.
Rose Rapidly in Order
His rise in the order was rapid. He became vice provincial for Poland, and in 1902, provincial. At the election of Father Francis Xavier Wernz, his predecessor, as general, he was said to have received thirteen votes on the first and second lalots. He was elected Father Wernz's assistant to administer the provinces of the Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Galicia, Belgium, and Austria. At the first election following Father Wernz's death in 1914 he was chosen over Latin nominees.
During his tenure he fought attacks on the irder in Spain, Germany, Mexico and elsewhere. Like his uncle, Cardinal Ledochowski, who was imprisioned by Bismarck for championing the rights of the Poles to their language and religion, and who opposed the Kulturkampf, he espoused the cause of the Poles when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, earning the bitter enmity of the Nazis. In the first three years of the war, the Vatican speaker who disclosed Nazi attrocities in Europe and particularly Poland, over the Vatican radio despite protests and threats from Germany and Italy, was a Jesuit from Father Ledochowski's staff.
December 12, 1942
LEDOCHOWSKI DEATH REPORTED IN ERROR
Jesuit General Is Still in a Critical Condition in Rome
Wireless to The New York Times
BERNE, Dec. 11- The very Rev. Vladimir Ledochowski, Father General of the Society of Jesus, was erroneously reported in an English language broadcast from Rome to have died there on Wednesday night.
It was asseretd tonight that the Father General was still alive, though sinking rapidly, but was resisting "with courage."
Father Ledochowski heard mass again this morning, and a late bulletin this evening announced that he was "resting comfortably."
The erroneous announcement of his death occurred in a brief statement Wednesday evenig during an English broadcast, and the announcement was unconfirmable at that time owing to a British air raid over northern Italy which had disrupted communications with the Vatican.
December 14, 1942
JESUIT SUPERIOR DIES IN ROME AT 76
Father Vladmir Ledochowski, General of Order, Was Named to Post in 1915
JOINED SOCIETY IN 1889
Brother of Polish General- Death Erroneously Reported by Italian Radio Wednesday.
By telephone to The New York Times
BERNE, Switzerland, Dec. 13- The Very Rev. Vladimir Ledochowski, "Black Pope" and Superior General of the Society of Jesus, died in his cell in Borgo Santo Spirito, headquarters of the orer in Rome, tonigt a few minutes after 6 o'clcok. His age was 76. Father Ledochowski underwent an abdominal operation five weeks ago. It was erroneously reported in a Rome broadcast that he had died Wednesday night.
After staging several rallies when his condition seemed beyond hope, Father Ledochowski suffered a relapse shortly after noon, and later went into a coma from which he never recovered. At the bedside were the eight members of the Cuia Generalizia, the Regency Commission which will direct the affairs of the Society of Jesus until the nomination of a new Superior General.
Immediately after death the body was dressed in his cossack and taken to the chapen in the hedaquarters of the order, where it will lie probably until Thursday, when a funeral service will be heard.
Pope Informed of Death
The Vatican was immediately notified about his death, and Mgr. Montini, Vice Secretary of State informed the Pope and Secretary of State Cardinal Maglione.
The nomination of the new Superior Geral of the Society of Jesus will be made by the General Congregation, a body comprising 150 Superiors of Jesuit foundations throughout the world. Since travel difficulties for such a Congregation are virtually insurmountable at the resent, it is believed it will not be held before the end of the war.
Meanwhile the affiars of the society will be in the hands of a Vicar Reegent, assisted by the General Curia, a body of eight members consistig of a North American, a South American, and Italian, a Frenchman, a German, a Spainaird, an Englishman and a Slav- all now in Rome.
Son of Polish Count
Father Ledochowski was born in Austria on Oct. 7, 1866, his family fabing moved from Tarnow, Poland. His father, Count Antoine Kalka Ledochowsk, married a Swiss, Jospehine Salis-Zizers. The Superior's brother, Ignazius Ledochowski, who survives, was a general in the Austrian and later the Polish Army, and during the first World War frequently was n charge of important operations.
Father Ledochowski studied in Vienna, entering the Society of Jesus in 1889. In 1894 he was ordained priest in Cracow, and in 1906 he was named by the Consultor General of the Society for German and Slav language provinces as well as for Belgium and the Netherlands.
On Feb. 11, 1915, the General Congregation named Father Ledochowski to the post of Superior General. The society then numbered twenty-seven provinces and 16,946 members; at his death it numbered fifty provinces and 27,000 members.