In the same year the Plague, which decimated France, swept over Europe. It reached the Rhine. Scattering dismay, despair in every home, the exterminating angel sped apace—wailings in his ear, and shivering terror in his van. Men shunned each other: the ties of affection—the bonds of love, plighted or sworn, broke asunder: all fled from the bed of pestilence—except the Jesuits. At the call of their provincial, they came together; and at the same bidding they dispersed, and fronted the angel of death. In the pest-house kneeling—in the grave-yard digging—in the thoroughfares begging—the Jesuits con
The Jesuits during the plague consoled the dying, buried the dead, and gathered alms for the living. Blessed be the hearts of these self-devoted men! They knew no peril but in shunning the awful danger.
For humanity—and, through humanity, for God—be that the stirring trumpet, whose echoes are deeds too great to be estimated, too great to be rewarded by the gold of Mammon or the voice of Fame.
And yet Jacques Cretineau-Joly, the last Jesuit historian, professing to copy " unpublished and authentic documents," bitterly tells us that "this charity of the Jesuits, by day and by night, gave to their Order a popular sanction, which dispensed with many others,"—and that "the people, having seen the Jesuits at their work, called for them, to reward them for the present, and solicited their presence, provident of the future."
Was it then for the Order's glorification that, in obedience to the superior's command, such self-devotedness was displayed? Was it only to gain a "popular sanction?" God only knows! but the doubt once suggested, and that too by a strong partisan, troubles the heart. We would not willingly deprive these obedient visitors of the pest-stricken, buriers of the dead, and feeders of the living, of that hearty admiration which gushes forth, and scorns to think of motives when noble deeds are done. At least to the subordinate Children of Obedience be that admiration awarded, if we must doubt the existence of exalted motives in the Jesuit-automaton ; if we must remember that at Lyons the Plague gave them a college, and in Germany "a popular sanction."
Link (here) to A History of he Jesuits