St Joseph Pignatelli, Jesuit.
On our tour through the old city of Zaragoza, we found the tracks of a figure, little known, but of exemplary significance: Saint Joseph Pignatelli SJ, sixth son of the noble family of the Counts of Fuentes.
The Society of Jesus is suppressed by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. Joseph Pignatelli dies in Rome on November 15, 1811, and fails to meet the restoration of the Society of Jesus in 1814 – for which he struggled- but is able to renew his vows in 1797 with the rest of the Society, which has been kept alive in Russia. The life of Joseph Pignatelli is a long story of adventure and suffering.
The child born in Zaragoza on December 27, 1737 did not think much about the difficulties that life would keep for him. The death of his mother at the age of four makes the family move to Naples, where his father dies five years after. He goes back to Zaragoza, with his older brother. From this date onwards, he studies in a school belonging to the Society of Jesus, which years later he decides to join, along with his younger brother Nicholas.
After entering the novitiate in 1753, he will spend years of training, studies and ministry that will be interrupted when the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain in 1767. After soldiers entered the school campus of the Immaculate on April 3, 1767, the path of his life would take a very different stage. After spending a day locked in the refectory of the house he will be expelled from the city, with nothing else, and will go to Tarragona, where he will board towards the Papal States. But they are denied asylum in the Papal States and so he begins a tough journey by boat, looking for a place to be hosted. Not until seven months later, in October, the ordeal will end at the port of Ferrara.
It is from the expulsion from Spain when biographers point out that Joseph, still a young Jesuit who has not made his vows, became the comfort, support and assistance to his brother Jesuits, in times of difficulty will take up reins, even the provincial will put him legally in front of his companions, to accompany, accommodate, feed and assist those men who suffer expulsion, overcrowding, lack of food and, above all, not wanting to be hosted anywhere, going from side to side, feeling hated and rejected.
His family, his brother, will suggest more comfortable ways, but he will keep his commitment to the Society of Jesus until the end, together with colleagues at that difficult time. In Bologna, as a diocesan priest, he devoted himself to fight for the full restoration of the Company, which he failed to see.