Jesuits in Rajasthan
The Jesuit mission to the north of India goes back to 1580. In the year 1579, Emperor Akbar invited Jesuits from Goa to visit his court, mainly to get Catholic debaters for an interfaith forum held regularly in Akbar's palace at Fatehpur Sikri. The first Jesuits, arrived at the Mughal court in 1580, and the Mughal mission, which lasted with two interruptions till 1773, was in the initial stages directed by two accomplished missionaries in the Jesuit's first century, Rudolfo Aquaviva (1550-83) and Fr. Jerome Xavier (1549-1617), the grandnephew of St. Francis Xavier.
Approximately a century and a half after their arrival at Fatehpur Sikri, the Jesuits made inroads to Rajasthan. They first came to Jaipur in 1729 at the invitation of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in order to help him set up an astronomical observatory known as Jantar Mantar at his then new capital of Jaipur.
The Jesuits came back to Jaipur in 1941, the 400th anniversary year of St. Francis Xavier's arrival to India, at the invitation of the Ajmer Bishop and Mirza Ismail, the then prime minister of Jaipur. The bishop offered them St. Mary's School at Ghat Gate, which was started in 1941 by Fr. Ignatius OFM, Cap. under the patronage of the Bishop of Ajmer. Later, in 1945, the school was shifted to its present site renaming it as St. Xavier's School. Ever since, the school has educated thousands of students who are holding key positions in every walk of life not only in Rajasthan but all over India and even abroad.
The Jaipur Xavier Educational Association (JXEA) was established in 1950, as a trust managed by the Jesuits. In 2006 the Xavier Vocational Institute (XVI) was started in Jaipur to give vocational training to the economically poorer sections of society. In 2010 the JXEA. in collaboration with the Xavier Alumnae and the well wishers of Jaipur, launched the Higher Education Program by starting the St. Xavier's College, Jaipur, affiliated to the University of Rajasthan. It is established and maintained by the members of the Delhi Province of the Society of Jesus.
St. Xavier's College, a Jesuit institution of higher learning which draws its inspiration from Jesus Christ, envisions the formation of the whole person. It seeks to form young men and women who are committed to the establishment of a just and caring social order. It believes that by promoting the intellectual, emotional and moral and growth of the student it shall form men and women committed to and confident of promoting a humane world.
Though St. Xavier's College is administered by the Catholic minority community, its mission reaches out to all without any distinction of caste or creed. Situated in an ancient city, rooted in tradition and resistant to any radical change in the existing socio-cultural structures, it feels called to work for the transformation of society so as to bring about a cultural emancipation of the youth by means of higher education. The college's vision prompts it to enter into a creative dialogue with the local culture in order to bring about social and cultural liberation. As an institution of higher education, its main role will be to provide an environment and training context for the students to prepare themselves for a life that is committed to the promotion of a just society.
Like other Jesuit educational institutions, St. Xavier's College aims to train young men and women who would grow up as creative leaders and responsible citizens, committed to the service of the people. Every effort is made to see that the students become intellectually equipped, morally upright, socially committed and spiritually awakened to God's presence in the world. Christian doctrines and values provide the bedrock of the education that is offered here, and Christian perspectives illuminate and direct its activities and projects.
The education offered at St. Xavier's College aspires to reach the ideal of St Ignatius encapsulated in the catch word magis, meaning "better than the best" in every activity and is in line with the definite stand taken by the Society of Jesus with regard to the apostolate of education all over the world. This stand is inspired and molded by a document on Jesuit education prepared in 1986, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Ratio Studiorum (Plan of studies drawn up by the Jesuits when they entered into the apostolate of education), by the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education (ICAJE) and presented to the whole Society by the then General Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.
The document confers on Jesuit education the following characteristics:
Person oriented: by paying individual attention to each student and making the teaching and learning student centered.
Integral formation and development: by paying special attention to intellectual, affective, imaginative, aesthetic, creative, critical, communicative, physical, cultural, moral and spiritual aspects of the individual.
Faith in God and religious experience: by promoting well- formed and strongly-held beliefs in one's faith tradition and deepening one's relationship with God.
Value-based leadership: by ensuring a consistent focus on personal integrity and ethical behavior in all professions, and the appropriate balance between justice and fairness.
Commitment to excellence: by applying well-learned lessons and skills to achieve new ideas, better solutions and vital answers.
Relevant to the times: by adapting to the concrete situations, politically, socially and culturally.
Service that promotes justice: by using learning and leadership in open-handed and generous ways to ensure freedom of inquiry, the pursuit of truth and care for others.
Participative: by encouraging interaction among the pupil, parents and teachers.
The motto on the college crest: Competence, Character and Compassion encodes the core values sought by the college, and challenges every student who passes through the portals of St. Xavier's College to realize in one's own life the high ideal of the college: acquiring personal integrity and excellence in everything one does.
The burning lamp represents Lord Jesus Christ who said, "I am the light of the world", the Wisdom of God. True education leads one from the darkness of ignorance to the light of genuine knowledge and enlightenment.
The open book symbolizes the centuries-old quality educational tradition of the Jesuits and their commitment to carry it forward. The inscription "IHS," placed above the open book is taken from the official seal of the Society of Jesus, used by the founder St. Ignatius of Loyola. These are the first three letters of the Latinized Greek word HISOVS, meaning 'Jesus'. The cross shown above the letter 'H' reminds the world that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for the salvation of humankind.
The peacock is the national bird of India. It symbolizes beauty, grace, pride in the natural resources, cultural diversity, and a sense of mysticism inspiring us to aim for higher values.