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Very Rev. Michelangelo Tamburini, S.J. (27 September 1648 – 28 February 1730) was an Italian Jesuit, who was elected fourteenth Superior General of the Society of Jesus from January 31, 1706 to February 28, 1730.
After having taught Scholastic philosophy and theology for twelve years, he was successively made rector of several colleges, was chosen by Cardinal Reynold of Este as his private theologian, held the offices of secretary general and vicar to Thyrsus Gonzalez, and finally, on the latter's death, was elected general on 3 January 1706, a post which he occupied for 24 years.
The reputation for solid virtue, patience, and courage, which he had acquired in the different grades of his order, was by no means dimmed in the long years of his generalate. During Tamburini's superiorship, the apostolic activity of the Society was at its best; but, at the same time, could be seen signs of the storm which was, half a century later, to annihilate it.
The Reductions of Paraguay were beginning to bear fruit; missionaries were laying down their lives for the pest-stricken in the Levant or were pushing into the steppes of Tibet amid untold hardships. Peter the Great admitted the Jesuits into Russia. Jansenism, the Society's bitterest foe, received its death-blow in 1708 by a Bull of Clement XI ordering the suppression of Port-Royal. The destruction of Port Royal was coupled with the condemnation of the errors of Pasquier Quesnel by the papal bull Unigenitus (1711).
At this period the debate over the Chinese Rites was at its height. The Jesuit missionaries in China had been accused of not obeying the orders of the Pope. Tamburini, though naturally of a gentle disposition, could be firm when the honour of the Society was at stake. He protested energetically, and when in 1711 the procurators of all the provinces of the Society were assembled in Rome, he had them sign a protest which he dedicated to Pope Clement XI. In the name of all the assistants and procurators gathered at Rome, he protested the fidelity and obedience of the whole Society to the Vicar of Christ.
In France, the long reign of Louis XIV, so favorable to the Jesuits in many respects, saw the beginning of those hostile movements which were to lead to the suppression of the Order. This was seen at his death, 1715, when the regent banished the once influential father confessor Le Tellier, while the gallicanizing archbishop of Paris, Cardinal de Noailles, laid them under an interdict (1716–1729).
During his generalate the mission of Paraguay reached its highest degree of success; in one year no fewer than 77 missionaries left for it; the missionary labors of St. Francis de Geronimo and Blessed Anthony Baldinucci in Italy, and Venerable Manuel Padial in Spain, enhanced the reputation of the Society.
Tamburini died at the age of 82.
Thyrsus González de Santalla
| Superior General of the Society of Jesus
1706 – 1730