By Philip Trower
Published by Ignatius Press
1998, Softcover, 480 pages
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“Through a large cast of historical and fictional characters, A Danger to the State relates one of the outstanding though little known dramas of modern history. In 1773, surrendering at last to a 20 year long campaign of intrigue and calumny, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the famous Society of Jesus, founded 200 years earlier by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Just sixteen years before the French Revolution, Europe’s Catholic kings, threatening to take their countries into schism, pressured Pope Clement into destroying the strongest bulwark and the Church’s most successful band of missionaries.What lay behind this apparent act of madness? There was no popular opposition to the Jesuits, and the Kings were mainly dupes. The driving force came from the writers and thinkers of the French Enlightemnent, agnostics and atheists that included a number of Europe’s leading statesman among it’s members. “Once we have destroyed the Jesuits,” wrote Voltaire, “we should have easy work with the Church.”
The action revolves around the de Vallecas family, a distinguished Spanish family that have two sons in the Jesuit order one a missionary to the Jesuit Reductions in Paraguay, the other a novice in Spain during the efforts of suppression. This chronicle of political intrigue moves masterfully from the turbulent scenes in Madrid of the French anti-Jesuit forces battle to influence King Charles III and other Spanish leaders, to the serene setting of the Jesuit missions in Paraguay in their last days of glory and, finally, to Catherine the Great’s Russia.” (From the Goodreads website)