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Roothaan, Johann Philipp


Superior general of the jesuits; b. Amsterdam, Nov. 23, 1785; d. Rome, May 8, 1853. His parents were former Calvinists who had emigrated from Frankfort. After guidance from A. Beckers, a former Jesuit, classical studies under D. van Lennep, and serving as aide to his surgeon-father, at 18 he went to Dvinsk (Dunaburg) in White Russia, where in 1804 he joined the Jesuits who had survived the suppression. He taught classics there (180609). After studying philosophy and theology at Polotsk, he was ordained (1812). He was at Pusza when Pius VII restored the Society of Jesus throughout the world (Aug. 7, 1814). When Russia later expelled most Jesuits in 1820, Roothaan was sent from Orsza to Brig, Switzerland, where he taught rhetoric, preached missions, and aided the vice-provincial of Germany, Belgium, and Holland. Roothaan was founder and rector of a college at Turin (1823). Elected in 1829 superior general of the order, he was dismayed at the defiance confronting papal civil government and at the inadequate formation of the flood of post-restoration candidates (Ligthart, 71). He issued 11 letters to the Society to organize energetically, if sternly, worldwide Jesuit efforts to regain presuppression prestige and efficiency. He displayed courage in imposing a carefully studied but somewhat monolithic interpretation of ignatian spirituality, the ratio studiorum, and thomism. In his efforts to build the Church in the U.S., he appealed for volunteers to work there; made Maryland into a viable Jesuit province (89 members); and later detached the St. Louis province from it. He refused the offer of a college at Notre Dame, Ind., but sent Anton Anderledy, the later superior general, and other European Jesuits who were exiled in 1848, to found Marquette University in Milwaukee. During his term as superior general he saw the order double in numbers to 5,000.

Bibliography: j. p. roothaan, Epistolae, 5 v. (Rome 193540). c. j. ligthart, The Return of the Jesuits: The Life of Jan Philip Roothaan, tr. a. naze (London 1978). r. north, The General Who Rebuilt the Jesuits (Milwaukee 1944).

[r. north]

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