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Isabella Roser: Wikis


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Isabella Roser was a sixteenth century Catalonian noble woman of Barcelona who identified Inigo de Loyola, later Saint Ignatius, while he was a penniless beggar and became a sponsor and benefactress of his career. She later demanded membership of the Jesuits for herself and two female companions. Although this was initially granted it was rescinded and the order has remained open only to males ever since.



Isabella Roser was born into the powerful noble Ferrer family of Catalonia. She married the wealthy Barcelona merchant Juan Roser.[1]

In the early 1520s Isabella noticed Loyola while listening to a sermon in the church of Santa Maria del Mar, Barcelona and was struck by his grave and modest demeanor. She invited him to her home for dinner.[2]

Roser became part of a group of wealthy women sponsors of Loyola, other notable members were Inez Pacual and Isabel de Josa. The group was nicknamed the "Inigas". [3]

In 1528, on the advice of Isabella Roser, Loyola departed Barcelona for Paris where they believed his religious ideas could be better progressed. Isabella continued to finance him there.[4]

In 1543, Isabella , who had been widowed in 1541, along with two female companions, her lady-in-waiting Francisca Cruyllas, and her friend Lucrezia di Bradine, joined Ignatius in Rome, where they helped to finance and administer St Martha's, a Jesuit hospital for reformed prostitutes. Isabel's ultimate goal was to create a female branch of the Jesuits. Ignatius resisted the idea, so she took her case directly to Pope Paul III, who ordered Ignatius to admit the three women as fully fledged members of the society. On Christmas Day 1545, in Rome, the three women professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that Layola had formulated for them. Isabella also bequeathed her entire estate to the Society, although Ignatius attempted to refuse it. [5] [6]

Ignatius found that male Jesuits were "distracted" by the women and that they lacked self discipline.[4] In 1546, Ignatius successfully petitioned the Pope to reverse the order, and Isabella and her companions had their vows be rescinded on 1st October 1546. Accusations began to circulate that Ignatius had robbed Isabella of her fortune in the process. This dispute went to court, which decided against Isabel. Ignatius then obtained from the pope a papal bull forbidding women from entering the order. Biographers of Saint Ignatius have called this "affaire Roser" .[1]

Isabella returned to Barcelona and continued live a pious life. Eventually she entered a Franciscan convent in Jerusalem where she lived until her death. [5]

Conflation with Isabel de Josa

Since around the nineteenth century historians have confused the life of Isabella Roser with that of her contemporary and fellow supporter of Layola, the scholar Isabel de Josa . [1]


  1. ^ a b c Dinner Party Database of Notable Women. Brooklyn Museum.
  2. ^ Young, William John (1959). Letters of St. Ignatius of Loyola
  3. ^ Fulop-Miller, Renee (1997). Power and Secret of the Jesuits
  4. ^ a b Eshleman, Lloud W. (2007). Moulders of Destiny - Renaissance Lives and Times
  5. ^ a b Powers, Tom (2000). "18. There Were Women Jesuits"
  6. ^ Hendrix, Scott H.; Karant-Nunn, Susan C. (2008). Masculinity in the Reformation Era




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