The Jesuits or ‘The Society of Jesus’ holds a significant place in the wide area of church history. Mark Noll cites John Olin notes that the founding of the Jesuits was ‘the most powerful instrument of Catholic revival and resurgence in this era of religious crisis’.[1] In histories of Europe to the Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Jesuits appear with notable frequency. The Jesuits were the finest expression of the Catholic Reformation shortly after the Protestant reform began. The Society is attributed to its founder, Ignatius of Loyola. As a layman, Ignatius viewed Christendom in his context as a society under siege. It was Christian duty to therefore defend it. The Society was formed at a time that nationalism was growing and papal prestige was falling. As Christopher Hollis observed: ‘Long before the outbreak of the great Reformation there were signs that the unity of the Catholic Christendom was breaking up.’[2] The Jesuits, as a missionary movement at a critical period in the Roman Catholic Church, used creative strategies that later symbolised the strength of what would become the traditional Roman Catholic Church for a long time in history. The strategies involved included, but were not limited to: reviving and nurturing faith among Catholics, winning back those who had become Protestants, converting those who had not been baptised, training of the members for social service and missionary work and also establishing educational institutions.

[1]       Mark A. Noll. Turning points: Decisive moments in the history of Christianity. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1997), 201.

[2]       Christopher Hollis. The Jesuits: A history. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1968), 6.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Elias Kiptoo Ngetich, Moi University, Kenya

Elias K. Ng'etich is a lecturer at the Depatment of Religion, Philosophy, & Theology at Moi University, Eldoret Kenya. He is currently completing his PhD in Church History and Church Polity at University of Stellenbosch, South Africa


Babgert ,W.V. (S.J.) 1986. A history of the Society of Jesus. St. Loius: The Institute of Jesuit Sources.

Bahru, Z. 2001. A history of modern Ethiopia 1855-1991. Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press.

Barthel, M. 1984. The Jesuits’ history and legend of the Society of Jesus. New York: William Morrow and Company.

Campbell, T.J. (S.J.) 1921. The Jesuits 1534-1921. New York: The Encyclopedia Press.

Chapple, C. (Ed.). 1993. The Jesuit tradition in education and missions: A 450 year perspective. Scranton: University of Scranton Press.

Cohen, L. 2006. The Jesuit Mission in Ethiopia (16th-17th centuries): An analytical bibliography. Aethiopica 9.

Henze, P.B. 2004 Layers of time: A history of Ethiopia. New York: Palgrave.

Hollis, C. 1968. The Jesuits: A history. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Isichei, E. 1995. A history of Christianity in Africa: From antiquity to the present. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.

Latourette, K.S. 1975. A history of Christianity. San Francisco: Harper-San.

Moore, H.D. 1936. Christianity in Ethiopia. Church History 5(3), (accessed 10 November 2012). DOI:

Munro-Hay, S. 2002. The unknown land: A cultural and historical guide. New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers.

Noll, A.M. 1997. Turning points decisive moments in the history of Christianity. Grand Rapids: Michigan: Baker Books.




How to Cite

Ngetich, Elias Kiptoo. 2016. “CATHOLIC COUNTER-REFORMATION: A HISTORY OF THE JESUITS’ MISSION TO ETHIOPIA 1557-1635”. Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae 42 (2):105-16.



Received 2016-06-01
Accepted 2016-09-22
Published 2016-11-17