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|Society of Jesus|
History of the Jesuits
Vd Maiorem Dei Gloriam or Ud Majorem Dei Gloriam,[note 1] also rendered as the abbreviation UMDG, is the Latin motto of the Society of Jesus, a religious order within the auspices of the Catholic Church known better by their informal name, the "Jesuits". The motto is translated into English as "For the greater glory of God".
The origin of the phrase is attributed to the founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who intended it to serve as a cornerstone sentiment of the society's religious philosophy. The full phrase attributed to St. Ignatius is Ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salutem or "for the greater glory of God and salvation of man." It is a summary of the idea that any work that is not evil, even one that would normally be considered inconsequential to the spiritual life, can be spiritually meritorious if it is performed in order to give glory to God.
IHS is a monogram for the name of Jesus Christ used since the 3rd century as an abbreviation. According to the Official Catholic Encyclopedia, 'St. Ignatius of Loyola adopted the monogram in his seal as general of the Society of Jesus (1541), and thus it became the emblem of his institute. IHS was sometimes wrongly understood as Jesus Hominum (or Hierosolymae) Salvator, i.e. Jesus, the Saviour of men (or of Jerusalem=Hierosolyma).'
When images of Saint Ignatius depict him carrying a book, the motto is often inscribed within—representative of the religious writings of the saint.
This phrase is the motto of many Jesuit educational institutions, including eight of the twenty-eight members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and many high schools worldwide. In Georgetown University's Gaston Hall, the phrase is followed by inque hominum salutem, producing a longer phrase: "For the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity."
It once was common for students at Catholic schools and universities to write the initials at the tops of their pages, to remind them that even their schoolwork ought to be dedicated to the glory of God.[note 2] The abbreviation was frequently included in the signatures of Pope John Paul II. It is repeatedly quoted by the Jesuit character in Flann O'Brien's book The Hard Life. Sir Edward Elgar used it as the dedication of his setting of Cardinal Newman's poem The Dream of Gerontius.
The motto of the Catholic fraternity Alpha Delta Gamma is Ad Dei Gloriam, which translates to "For the Glory of God." This motto is the origin of fraternity's name, as the Roman initials "ADG" are rendered in Greek with the letters alpha, delta, and gamma.
Because of its religious implications, several companies and organizations, such as Magnoli Clothiers have even adopted the acronym for the Latin phrase as a part of the company's or association's name. Associations in varying fields of business, from architecture to finance, and healthcare to technology, demonstrate the widespread influence of this Christian influenced phrase.