Originally a lay congregation; founded in Siena, Italy, by Bl. john colombini about 1366. After his conversion Colombini, together with his disciples, lived on alms, cared for the plague stricken, and buried the dead. Colombini, accused of fraticelli errors, sought papal approbation to clear his order from this charge. After an investigation, Urban V approved the congregation in 1367. In the same year Colombini died, and Francesco Di Mino Vincenti assumed direction of the congregation. The Jesuati spread to many Italian cities, and in 1425 settled in Toulouse, France. At first they followed the Benedictine rule, but in 1426 Bl. John of Tossignano composed their constitutions based on the rule of St. Augustine. Their particular dedication was to the spiritual works of mercy, especially the care of the sick, and their piety was rigorously penitential. Their frequent ejaculatory mention of the name of Jesus led to their being called Jesuati. In 1499, by permission of Alexander VI, they were called Apostolic Clerics of St. Jerome after their special patron. Paul V in 1606 and 1611 granted permission for some of their members to pursue higher studies and be ordained. Finally, because they had departed from their early fervor and because of their small numbers, the Jesuati were suppressed by Clement IX in the bull Romanus Pontifex of Dec. 6, 1668.
About 1367, Catherine, Colombini's cousin, established the Poor Jesuatesses of the Visitation of the B.V.M., a contemplative order following the rule of St. Augustine; it survived in Italy until 1872.
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum (Paris 1863—) July 7:344–408. p. morigia, Historia degli huomini illustri … che furono giesuati (Venice 1604). m. heimbucher, Die Orden und Kongregation der katholischen Kirche (Paderborn 1932–34) 1:596–598. g. moroni, Dizionario de erudizione storicoecclesiastica (Venice 1840–61) 30:108–110.
[m. g. mcneil]