Tuesday, 27 October 2009


St Francis Borgia, third Superior General of The Society of Jesus, was elected such in 1565. He served in this capacity for seven years. He had long held the belief that novitiates should be separate from colleges and professed houses. As a consequence, he opened the first separate novitiate, Sant’ Andrea, on 20th September 1565. Constructed on the site of a 13th century church dedicated to St Andrew, it served as the novitiate until 1773 and then again from 1814 to 1872.

David Lewis was ordained to the priesthood on 20th July 1642. Fr David Lewis’s friend and uncle, John Pritchard was a Jesuit. Fr Pritchard was his mother’s brother and just six years David’s senior. Saint David Lewis himself said that he numbered his uncle among his closest friends. Following in Fr Pritchard’s footsteps, his recently ordained nephew decided to join the Society of Jesus.

On 19th April 1645, eighty years after its opening, Fr David Lewis entered the Jesuit novitiate at Sant’ Andrea. He was a novice there for a year, from 1645-1646, and after profession he was sent upon the English Mission. He was soon recalled to Rome to assume the position of Spiritual Director at his old college. About a year later, Fr Lewis returned to Wales where he worked for more than 30 years before being martyred at Usk in 1679.

St David Lewis was one of the many illustrious saints and martyrs who were, at one time or another, novices at Sant’ Andrea, Rome. St Robert Southwell and St Henry Walpole are two other former novices canonised with St David Lewis in 1970 when Pope Paul canonised the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

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