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Document Details :
Title: The Spirituality of Philanthropy
Subtitle: The Women Around Ignatius Loyola
Author(s): DREYER, Elizabeth A.
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 19 Date: 2009
This essay explores the meaning of a spirituality of philanthropy in the lives of a group of sixteenth-century wealthy, noble women who assisted Ignatius Loyola and the early Jesuits in their pastoral and educational ministries. It addresses issues of social context, class, female-male relationships, power, and interpretive lenses. Denied roles of preaching, sacramental ministry, and decision-making in the church, women have engaged in the spiritual ministry of philanthropy to express their desire to help others, serve God, and influence church and society. From the very beginning of the Christian era, wealthy women founded, sustained and promoted house churches and engaged in active service. After discussion of the situation of women in sixteenth-century Europe, and the role of letter writing in that context, this essay examines the ways the women close to Ignatius practiced their ministries of generous giving: material resources (money, land, buildings); influence (at various courts and the papacy); and personal engagement in ministry. Interpretation of these roles need to be continually updated as we progress in our ability to view women in their own right. We recognize and honor the spirituality of the women around Ignatius, characterized by freedom, love, commitment, self-direction and action.