Who are the Jesuits, exactly?

Economist excerpt
The Society of Jesus is another such religious order. 
Set up by Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish former soldier, 
in 1540, there are now over 12,000 Jesuit priests, 
and the society is one of the largest groups 
in the Roman Catholic church. Known as the 
"soldiers of Christ" after the military bearing of their founder 
(who discovered his vocation, it is claimed, after reading a book 
on the lives of the saints in a hospital when recovering from war wounds) 
the order emphasises education, particularly their belief 
in the importance of learning languages
and the need for missionary evangelism in the life of a priest. 

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