“You Jesuits Are Everywhere”

Born in France, Father Louis Hippolyte-Gache, S.J. (1817-1907), was a Chaplain in the Confederate Army throughout the Civil War. In his letters, he recounts the following incident in the Fall of 1861, when he met Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder (1807-1871). The following is taken from Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J., ed., A Frenchman, A Chaplain, A Rebel: The War Letters of Pere Louis- Hippolyte Gache, S.J. (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1981), 50-51.

I had the opportunity of seeing Major General Magruder and of talking with him about the needs of the Catholic troops and about what I’m hoping to do for them… They talk a great deal around here about [Major] General Magruder and what they say is not always complimentary. As far as I am concerned, however, he is a very unpretentious and likeable gentleman. During our little visit his houseboy brought him a bowl of peaches. Since it was a little after 12:00, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had ordered this for his lunch.

“Here, have a peach,” he said, offering me the bowl, and I, who have made it a rule never to refuse what I am offered, chose the least prepossessing of the lot. “You, sir, are not a good peach-picker,” he said, taking the most succulent and thrusting it into my hand, adding: “Here, take this one.”

Then as he began eating he asked me: “To what denomination do you belong?”

“To the Catholic denomination.”

“Oh, I know that. But to what– er, order– do you belong within the Catholic denomination?”

“I am a Jesuit.”

“I thought so. You Jesuits are everywhere…”

“Yes, sir, doing all sorts of good works.”

“Oh, yes, that’s exactly what I understand.”

About Pat McNamara

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