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Feb, 18/2020
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Jesuit Missions

The Jesuit Missions History 
The Jesuits
The generous reward
Guarani Natives
The first settlement
How were the missions run?
Why did the Jesuits leave?
Missions Autonomy
The Jesuits
click to enlargeThe Jesuits, members of a Catholic missionary holy order, were spread worldwide. Founded by Inacio de Loiola in 1534 in France and given the name "Compania de Jesus", the Jesuit fathers played a very important role in the education of many people in many countries from the 16th century until recent times. To become a Jesuit, a student was required to study hard for many years. Only the best students with excellent skills were sent to South America.
"JHS" stands for Jesus Hominis Salvatus.
The generous reward
click to enlargeThe Jesuits promised generous rewards in the form of tributes to the King of Spain in exchange for the exemption of the Guarani from the encomiendas (hard labor to which all other natives were subjected). The Jesuits assured the King that the region would remain an imperial dominion and that the Gospel would be taught to the new people). For about 160 years, the Jesuits succeeded in protecting the Guarani from the raids of the slave-hunters from Sao Paulo (Paulistas). They founded many missions or reducciones and developed a kind of evangelism that was a bit peculiar for the time. They put into practice the precepts of the Gospel, isolated the Guarani from the bad influence of the Europeans and developed the creativity of the Indians.
Guarani Natives
click to enlargeGuarani is the word for "warrior". The Guarani was one of the several tribes originated along the Atlantic coast of South America thousands of years ago. At the height of their expansion, tribes could be found from what is currently Argentina and Paraguay to the distant Amazon region of what is currently Northern Brazil. They existed in a Paleolithic stage of development until the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century. Most schools teach that democracy has its roots in ancient Greece, but if one studies the history of South America, one can find that a similar form of government was used to run some tribes in the New World. The Guarani natives of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil would have become another indigenous people victimized by the colonization of South America if the Jesuits had not been able to persuade the King of Spain to grant the vast region they inhabited to their care.
See also: The Guarani Natives
The first settlement
click to enlargeThe first settlement was founded in 1587. In the region of the Parana river the first reduction was established in 1609. Many other Missions were established along rivers, in the Chaco (Paraguay), Guaira and Parana territories (Brazil). The missions founded in Brazil were soon abandoned due to the continuous raiding of the Brazilian Paulistas throughout the 1630s and 1640s.
How were the missions run?
click to enlargeGuided by the Jesuits, the native indians created advanced laws; founded schools and hospitals and free public services for the poor and suppressed the death penalty. A society based on the principles of primitive Christianity was established. The inhabitants of the reducciones worked on the "tupambae", land belonging to the community, and all the products that were produced were fairly divided among them. The exceeded was trade.
Why did the Jesuits leave?
click to enlargeTrouble started in the 1750s, when the King of Spain ceded to Portugal a portion of the territory in which the missions were located. The Potuguese, who wanted to take economic advantage of this region and of the work of the Indians, caused the so-called Guarani Wars, which concluded in 1756 with the defeat of the Indians. The era of the missions ended in 1767 with the expulsion of the Jesuits. At that time some of the missions emptied and the Indians returned to the forest. Later on another congregations try to keep some of the missions running without any success. Some of the reductions went on war against the Portuguese.
Missions Autonomy
click to enlargeThe missions assumed almost full independence, as if they were real nations The Guarani were very skilled as artisans, sculptors and woodcarvers making the reductions the first "industrial" state of South America. Indeed, advanced products such as watches, musical instruments, etc. were produced in the reductions. The first printing press in the New World was built in the reductions. The working day was about six hours long (in Europe at that time it was 12-14 hours long), and free time was dedicated to music, dance, bow-shot contests and prayer. The Guarani society was the first in the history of the world to be literate (according to some books only part of the communities were literate). The missions were self-sufficient and even exported goods to Europe paying taxes to the Spanish kingdom.

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Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. The dome inside the church.
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Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola at Campus Martius in Rome.

How to visit them in Argentina 

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