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    The Jesuits

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    In discussing the potential Jewishness of Dumas' musketeers (see the Jeno Fuchs profile), we quickly dismissed Aramis. It made sense: he became an abbot, so any potential link to Judaism seemed very unlikely. But perhaps we shouldn't dismiss him so easily. Let us explain.

    Those sturdy enough to get through the 268 chapters of the second sequel to "The Three Musketeers", "The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later", will read about Aramis' ascension to Superior General of the Jesuits. And it is here were the potential Jewish ties lie. Yes, at the top of the Society of Jesuits. Strange, we know.

    The Jesuits, a Catholic order that was established in 1534, emphasized education, and tried to draw the brightest academics. (You know what that means: Jews!) They welcomed conversos with open arms, and, as a result, many prominent early Jesuits had Jewish heritage. The list includes Juan Alfonso de Polanco, the secretary and ghostwriter of the order's founder, as well as the second Superior General, Diego Lainez.

    So could it be? Could Aramis be a fictional portrayal of a Jewish Jesuit leader? Unfortunately, no. At the end of the 16th century, those with Jewish heritage were barred from entering the order. And that ban would precede Aramis by a number of decades.

    Oh, well. No Jewish musketeers. We'll have to settle for Jews being essential in the creation of an order that led to the establishment of many prominent universities.

    As far as the Catholic church is concerned, we could do much worse.

    Verdict: Barely a Jew.

    January 4, 2012

    See Also

    Pope Alexander VI

    Jeno Fuchs

    The Illuminati

    Cardinal Mazarin

    John Joseph O'Connor
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