Two great Jesuit churches stand near each other in Rome. One is the Church of St. Ignatius and the other the Church of Gesu (Jesus). Both are imposing and majestic and reflect the glory of the Jesuits in their heyday.
The one to the left is called the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. In Italian it is Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio. It was built in the 17th century, back when the Jesuits knew who they were and what their commission and charism was (though there are still a few like that today, e.g., Fr. Joseph Fessio and Fr. Mitch Pacwa and the deceased Fr. John Hardon).
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In the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola there is a huge statue of St. Ignatius standing tall looking up to heaven. In his hand is a book with the words “To the greater glory of God.  Constitution of the Society of Jesus” *
Beneath him is Martin Luther with a closed Bible. St. Ignatius has his foot on Luther’s neck and Luther is biting the back of his own hand.
Click IMG_3603 for a short video clip.

This would probably not go over very well today. In fact the sign under the statue only says “A Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola” but fails to explain the original purpose and meaning of the statue and who is under St. Ignatius’ foot.
I bought their booklet explaining all the statues and art in the church and it fails to show this statue or to explain it.

It is fully recognized that we are in a new era today, and do not attack today’s Protestants for the schism caused by Luther and we refer to them as our “separated brethren.” However, the things taught by Protestants that are contrary to the teaching of the Church are still heresies and their separation from the Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiff is still an unfortunate schism.

But we still need to realize that when the “Reformation” took place the rebels were heretics and caused a schism in the Church and the saints and theologians did not hesitate to say so. We need to quit being politically correct and overly ecumenically sensitive and start calling heresy heresy and schism schism when they raise their ugly heads up in our current time.

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Mary casting Luther and Huss from heaven

In the Church of Gesus is another of my favorite statues. It is called The Triumph of Faith over Heresy and was designed during the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Heresy was not considered a naughty word back in the day when battles were fought for the truth of the Catholic faith. It is a word that should maybe be resurrected in our time.

When you see the sculpture today no one comments on what it means, nor will you find a placard explaining its meaning. Here is a paragraph from the former Sacred-Destinations website:

To the right of the altar sits Pietro Le Gros’ sculpture entitled The Triumph of Faith over Heresy.  This sculpture depicts Mary casting Martin Luther and his precursor, Jan Huss, out of heaven.  An attendant angel (lower left) rips their translations of the Bible and their writings to shreds.  The militant nature of the Jesuits and their mission to spread the faith and reassert the power of the church is clear in this dramatic work.  A companion sculpture entitled The Triumph of Faith over Idolatry” by Jean-Baptiste Theodon further cements the message of the Jesuits.

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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Dragonfly

    “But we still need to realize that when the “Reformation” took place the rebels were heretics and caused a schism in the Church and the saints and theologians did not hesitate to say so. We need to quit being politically correct and overly ecumenically sensitive and start calling heresy heresy and schism schism when they raise their ugly heads up in our current time.”
    ## Full marks for that. It badly needs to be said. The Deformers – that is what they were, so that is what they deserve to be called – hated the Mass with a passion; they were never tired of denouncing it as idolatry & blasphemy. They hated the priesthood, they frequently lied about the Church, they exaggerated real scandals, misrepresented what the Church taught, they falsified quotations from the Fathers, and were neither heroes nor Saints. Calvinism has a long and ugly history of treason & rebellion – not that this is often mentioned.

  2. Jim

    I know you won’t let this stay up either. But I like how you silence the other view point. Just like the Romanists of old. You can’t have me burned at the stake here in America. I have history Scripture and Most important God on my side. I wear your name of Heretic as a badge of honor. Martin Luther did to.
    STEVE RAY HERE: Why not leave it up? Proves my point and is good for its comedic value.

  3. Thomas Schuessler

    Steve: Punishing heretics and fighting wars over doctrine is wrong. The message of the Gospel of John (which you have written about) is sacrificial love. The first “heretics” were beautiful communities of Jewish followers of Jesus who wanted to stay Jews, and then down through the ages these chosen people of God have suffered greatly at the hands of Christians. They should get rid of that horrible statue.

  4. Mike

    Jim I’m guessing the irony of your “burned at the stake” comment escapes even you. Yes, your comment is comedic, considering it’s actually your Puritan protestant forefathers in Salem with the history of burning people at the stake… But the horrendous damage Luther inflicted is not so comedic. It’s a tragedy we may never understand this side of eternity.

  5. Bill912

    “But I like how you silence the other point of view.”
    How does Steve do that?

  6. Bill912

    “Punishing heretics and fighting wars over doctrine is wrong”. Says who?
    “The message of the Gospel of John…is sacrificial love.” That’s one of its messages. So is standing up for Truth.
    “The first ‘heretics’ were beautiful communities of Jewish followers of Jesus who wanted to stay Jews…” Like Mary, all the Apostles, Paul, Mark, etc. What made them “heretics”?

  7. pete

    why don’t you say the truth about Loyola is holding the confession of the Jesuits just read the Latin on it. and if that is Luther remember that the Catholic institution forbade the laity from reading the bible for centuries and Luther translated the bible into German language called the teple bible for laity in Germany to read in their own language and not Latin . he promoted an open bible for all to read and find the truth . i know you will not dare to post my comment on your site because you are a coward and want to keep catholic followers blinded for the truth like Rome has blinded the truth for centuries. i defy you to post my comment on your site if you dare.
    STEVE RAY HERE: PETE thinks he is so smart but is actually just parroting the same old, same old accusations and lies. I allowed his post because everyone that reads here is smart enough to see right through what he is parroting and draw their own conclusions. It is a great example of ignorance and anti-Catholic bigotry.

  8. Eric Robertson

    I would like to comment on the statue of St Ignatius standing on Martin Luther (or John Calvin?), and countering the Protestant Reformation. There is something false about the statue. Although it is only symbolic and representative of the triumph of the mother church? over Protestantism, I feel that in reality, Ignatius Loyala would have had great difficult in standing on anyone as he was a cripple who walked with a limp. The message or moral of the statue to me as a Protestant, would be beware of deception, catholic or otherwise?
    STEVE RAY HERE: Luther was a heretic and obviously the statue is idealized the truth over heresy a saint over heretic.

  9. Bill

    I hope these questions are not too simplistic:
    1) What specifically on the statues indicates the identity of Luther and/or Huss? Could they simply not be “heretics/heresies in general”?
    2) What are some particular teachings of Luther that were heretical and why?
    Many thanks…

  10. Elias Wittenberg

    From one of your "separated brethren":

    Your article is as disturbing as the statute you extol. The truth has nothing to fear from dialogue. Why portray Loyola as stepping on Luther? The Catholic Church had no force of argument to meet the Reformers, so they resort to violence, which is the answer of all tyrants. Millions suffered and died at the hands of the "Church" for their faith in the Bible and in the truth that no institution or pope has the right to come between a man and God. Those you term "heretics" are conquerors, and at the resurrection they shall shine like the stars forever and ever.

    "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Rev 22:12.

    STEVE RAY HERE: Agreed on the point of nothing to fear from dialog. Certainly not, which is why the Catholic Church has been open to dialog and carried on dialog with Lutherans and many other sects over the years.
    As to the rest of your ill-informed comments I must heartily disagree. You have swallowed the the Kool-aid. Your “millions have suffered and died” is nonsense and proven to be Protestant, anti-Catholic propaganda. And have you ever calculated the number of believers killed by Protestant sects and their leaders for not towing the line? Luther’s peasants, Calvin’s killings in Geneva, the “witches” in early America?
    Jesus gave a man named Peter the keys and you may want to read my book Upon this Rock to break out of your bubble and see what Jesus really intended with his Church.

  11. Elias Wittenberg

    Many historians tell the same history in regard to how many the "Church" killed.
    For example:

    "From the birth of Popery in 606 to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians, that more than fifty millions of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existence of popery."
    — "History of Romanism," pp. 541, 542. New York: 1871.

    Just against the Albigenses alone, the figures are startling:

    The Catholic crusade against the Albigenses in Southern France (from 1209-1229), under Popes Innocent III., Honorius III. and Gregory IX., was one of the bloodiest tragedies in human history. The number of Albigenses that perished in the twenty years war is estimated at from one to two millions.
    — Cushing B. Hassell, History of the Church of God, Chapter XIV.

    John Foxe chronicled many, many stories occurring over the course of centuries. I don't know how you can credibly deny Rome's destruction of those who disagree with her. And her use of the power of the civil state to do so.

    The idea that Peter is the first pope is a ridiculous fairy tale based on a clear misrepresentation of Scripture. Peter was a fallible human. He was not the foundation stone that was rejected by the builders. Christ is the foundation stone, and the sole authority that man is accountable to. I am accountable to no pope, and neither are you.

    STEVE RAY HERE: This will be my last correspondence. One does not decide what is the true church by the number of bodies in a pile. Your sources are also extremely biased and inaccurate but give me a window into your sources and why you are so poorly informed on these matters. Foxe is a known biased anti-Catholic author who could simply not help himself. There are similar books, much better researched, that show the murders of Catholic by Protestants much more horrendous and multiple.

    Using pejorative and outdated terms like “popery” also belie the ignorance and antiquated sources you are using – sources that have been soundly refuted time and time again.

    Lastly, you reveal your ignorance of basic Catholic teaching on infallibility. You build a non-existent straw man and then bravely knock it down. You would be wise to do more research before you betray your inexperience in these areas of theology. My book Upon this Rock may be a good place to start.

    May God bless you and those you love and may you soon come to find the fullness of the Truth.

  12. Ellie

    Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    John 3

    STEVE RAY HERE: Not sure why you sent this other than to challenge the Catholic view of the necessity of baptism and water baptism as the means of being born again. Jesus said, “You must be born again by water and Spirit.” What does that mean? What did Jesus just do? He went into the water and the Spirit came down. No rocket science here. Water baptism is how one gets born again.

  13. Eric Robertson

    Hi Steve
    I meant to get back to you with a point (fact) on the statue of Saint Ignatius.
    The book held in the hand of the figure is not the ‘open Bible’, as stated by yourself. But the Constitution of the Society of Jesus. Check out the Vatican website for this.
    Would the Society of Jesus, or the Catholic Church, be the place to find the truth?

  14. Bartholomew Roberts


  15. Max

    Just came across what must be the definitive sculpture of Pope Francis! You’ve gotta see this!

  16. Robert

    To Thomas Schuessler, “IT IS AS IT WAS” .

  17. Yves

    I forgot, Did Jesus give the keys of his church to Peter to create the rules
    or to Luther, Hus, and Calvin?

  18. Marcus Meleton

    Yves "to create the rules"? He created the rules by himself. He had his prophets and apostles write it down, and told us "not to think of men above that which is written,"

    STEVE RAY HERE: You misquote Corinthians.

  19. Marcus Meleton

    Hie Bill912
    ““Punishing heretics and fighting wars over doctrine is wrong”. Says who?” Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. Revelation 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
    ““The message of the Gospel of John…is sacrificial love.” That’s one of its messages. So is standing up for Truth.”
    Which can be done without force. 2 Timothy 2:24-25
    24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
    25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

  20. Yves

    I used the term “create the rules” figuratively. He told Peter that whatever he binds on earth shall be bound in heaven. Jesus gave this binding power to a man. Sorry that Luther didn’t like a man being in charge of a church, but Jesus set it up that way, clear as day, in his own words.

  21. Nancy Cavey

    May I have permission to do a screenshot of your photo of St. Ignatius of Loyola victorious over Martin Luther? We were just there today, my husband and I, but Mass had started and we couldn't get a close enough shot. We'd appreciate it so much.

    STEVE RAY HERE: Of course, please feel free.

  22. Josiah

    Former Protestant here. Here’s the thing about us, Protestants always trying to bash the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, many of us Protestants fail to understand true history and how God provides lots of references in it for us to read and understand. Putting aside the Eastern Orthodox, as that was a schism that came later in 1054, going further back, we have other truly ancient apostalic churches like the Coptic or Assyrian Church. Now, if we Protestants believe we are the true Christians of the world today, yet we hold absolutely nothing nor practice anything that resembles what the Copts and Assyrians are practicing today, it really means we are not the ones who are following true Christianity. I’ve heard the argument those churches are “Catholic too”, but the truth about history is no, they are katholikos(universal), part of the universal Church at that point in history and continue to be. But they have things like holy icons, the Sacraments, sacramentals, eg. holy water, blessed salt…etc. none of which we Protestants have, despite us claiming to be Christians. These ancient apostalic churches even hold to the real pressence of Christ within the Eucharist upon consecration, they even have rites of consecration for it. These churches burn incense which is pleasing to God, yet, we Protestants stubbornly insist that is pagan. We Protestants do not pray to Mary, yet the Copts and Assyrians, do, and so do the Eastern Orthodox, they all have so much love and respect for Mary while understanding the whole concept of Mary being a saint and all the other saints who we pray to for intercession. We Protestants claim everything, we claim we are right, yet history tells a completely different story, and using other TRUE ancient apostalic churches as a benchmark, they are living proof that we are completely wrong about what TRUE Christianity is. Regardless our Protestant arguments, the Roman Catholic Church does hold more TRUTH to it then any Protestant denomination or so-called “non-denominational” churches do.

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