In Rome, the Society of Jesus–a Roman Catholic missionary organization–receives its formal charter from Pope Paul III.
Ignatius De Loyola, a Spanish soldier turned priest, founded the Society in 1534. Important in the Counter Reformation in the 16th century, Jesuit missionaries began fanning out from Europe in the 17th century. The highly educated Black Robes, as they were known in native America, often preceded European nations in their infiltration of foreign lands and societies. The life of a Jesuit missionary was one of immense risk, though, and foreign authorities hostile to their task of conversion persecuted thousands of Jesuit priests. In other nations, such as India and China, the Jesuits were revered as men of wisdom and science.