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Jesuit Tradition

The founder of the College, Bishop Benedict Joseph Fenwick, second bishop of Boston, entrusted Holy Cross to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), an international Catholic religious order known for its spirituality, commitment to education and justice, and active engagement with the world. Among the 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, we are the only one devoted exclusively to a four-year, undergraduate, liberal arts education.


Founded for Knowledge

While recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona, the Spanish knight St. Ignatius of Loyola underwent a spiritual conversion. At the monastery Our Lady of Montserrat in 1522, he knelt before the statue of the Black Madonna. Putting down his weapons at the feet of the Virgin Mary, he determined to leave behind his past as a warrior and to embrace a life in service of God. 

St. Ignatius soon began writing the spiritual notes that became the Spiritual Exercises, a collection of meditations and prayers that would later serve as the foundation for the Society of Jesus. In 1540 he founded the Jesuit order, which concentrated on promoting the faith through the sharing of knowledge in order to develop the whole person – including that individual’s intellectual, social and spiritual dimensions. The first Jesuit college was established in Messina, Italy, in 1555 – over the intervening centuries the Jesuit tradition has spread throughout the globe. Learn more about the Society of Jesus


Our Montserrat program takes its name from the place where St. Ignatius laid down his sword and began a new life. 

A Life of Dialogue

Today, the Jesuit mission is expressed as the “service of faith in which the promotion of justice is a constitutive element, and is expressed in dialogue with other religions and in dialogue with other cultures.” This dialogue is fundamental to our approach to learning at Holy Cross. When one person listens and insightfully interprets what another is saying — and then respectfully expresses their own experiences in turn — both individuals gain new understanding of themselves, their peers and the world. 

a student talking with a girl as part of community service work
Dialogue and Exchange

The concept of dialogue and exchange is central to the Holy Cross mission and our Jesuit approach to teaching and learning.