Ignatius of Loyola
“Carry on we must hold strong!” the brave Spanish general commanded. It was a battle at Pamplona, Spain was defending and losing badly to the French. Few Spanish soldiers remained fighting led by Ignatius, the very courageous Spaniard. “Watch out!” a fellow soldier warned. But it was too late. A cannonball flew in knocked Ignatius off his horse breaking his leg. The French admired the honorable man and even though he was on the other side they took hurt Ignatius to his castle, Loyola, where he began his long recovery of body and soul.
St. Ignatius of Loyola was an amazing man with an amazing life with a drastic change. He was a young man that often visited the court and loved it. After his injury and recovery at his castle, Loyola, he became a new man. A man with a new life not dedicated to ladies, like his former life, but dedicated to God.
I was born at the time of the rule of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Columbus just discovered America and Spain was rich. There was also a war going on in Spain, so all the young men in Spain were brimming over with the need for honor and pride. The reformation of the Catholic Church was also in swing. John Calvin and Martin Luther were also alive during my time. In fact, five years before my conversion Luther posted his list in Wittenberg.
I, Ignatius of Loyola, was born in 1491 to a wealthy noble family in our family castle, Loyola, Spain. I was the youngest of 13 children and my mother died giving birth to me. So I was raised by, Maria de Forin, a wife to a blacksmith. She taught me my first prayers and was like a mother to me. When I was a young man, around 15 yrs old I was sent to be a page to King Ferdinand V and I loved it. The court was lots of fun with all the ladies and luxury. Anotony Manriquez taught and trained me to be an honorable and respected general, and I was.
But something terrible, yet good happened that ended my court/military life at one of my battles. I was hit by a cannonball while defending one of our castles from the French. I fell off my horse and broke my leg. I was taken back to my castle, Loyola, where I was stuck for months. It was a very painful, long, lonely recovery because the doctors set it wrong the first time so they had to break it again then reset it, and that hurt allot. Anyway I had nothing to do for months on end so I asked my sister to get a romantic book for me to read. But she couldn’t. There were only three books in whole castle: a book on gardening, Life of Christ (Vida Christi) Life Stories of the Saints (Flos San Ctorum). I was stubborn and rebellious so I didn’t read the Church books but instead read the gardening book time and time again. One day I was so sick of gardening that I gave in and started to read the church books. They were intriguing. The more I read the more I wanted to read. Their stories amazed me and filled me too, unlike romantic novels. I began to realize that these are more then stories, they are true. They are meaningful and they have a purpose. I decided it was time for me to get one too.
March 1522, I left the castle with a new life, a new soul, a new heart, and a purpose. I was going to the Holy Land to experience life the way Jesus did, live where Jesus lived. On the way there I made a confession and left all my knightly things desires and wealth behind me. I marched on in a simple robe and sandals. I stopped in Manresa and stayed there for an unintentional ten months. It was there that I had my first vision. I can’t explain what it was like but it was wonderful. I was changed in the inside and out. I was able to see God in a new light, a light that allowed me to see him and His grace in all things, especially his creation. This is known as the Vision of Cardoner. It was there that I started to write my book called the Spiritual Exercises.
The “spiritual exercises” is like a bunch of sermons, classes, devotionals, exercises etc about God, your spiritual life, prayer and creation. They are divided into four major sections called weeks. Each ‘week’ focuses on a different aspect of God, and your spiritual life. For example, the first week focuses about “the ultimate purpose of life, the created universe making retreatants realize that the goal of their lives is to live with God forever: that God is not only their creator but is to be their eternal companion.” (4) It also goes on to say that God has a plan for everyone, and you should give up your old life of sin and live a new life full of love, gratefulness and devotion. It goes on from there. You could say this was my life long project because worked on it almost all my life.
After my ten months at Maneressa I continued with my journey to the Holy Land. I stopped in Rome to make sure it was okay for me to go there and to ask for the pope’s permission which I was granted, by Pope Adrian VI. I finally reached the Holy Land and stayed there. Then I was forced out by the church, if I didn’t go then I would be excommunicated. Since I had to come back to Europe I decided to study on priesthood. Two years later I was thrown in jail because I was teaching others and explaining to them the gospels and how to pray. The problem, according to the Inquisition, was that I wasn’t ordained. Forty two days later I was let out under orders not to teach to anyone. But teach I did and I was thrown in jail again this time for only two weeks. So after my two weeks I left for Paris to study more and to become a priest. While I was there I roomed with two great guys, Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. There we decided to go to the Holy Land together and if that wasn’t possible then to go down to Rome and do whatever the pope asks of us. The holy land wasn’t an option so down to Rome we went. On the way there I had another vision. In my vision God said to me, “I will be favorable to you in Rome and I will place you with my son.” I interpreted as that in my life I will suffer and succeed like Jesus did. That is what happened.
One of my greatest successes that had a huge impact was the founding of the Jesuit Society. The Jesuit Society is a community where people would “vow obedience to a superior general and to put themselves at the disposal of the Holy Father to go wherever he sends them”(5) I was voted as the first superior general in 1539. I heard that what started out small had a huge impact and a good one. After we voted and I was elected I spent the rest of my days in two rooms writing up the constitution of the Society. I didn’t enjoy it as much as being with people and instructing them but I know that this in the long run will affect thousands more people and I did.
On July 30 I was feeling terrible (stomach pains), worse then ever and I knew I was dying. So I asked my secretary to go and get the pope in order that he can bless me before I died. My secretary hurried but not fast enough. Early morning, July 31, 1556, I breathed my last breath then went to meet my Heavenly Father. Ignatius was declared a saint on March 12, 1622 and there is a feast in honor of him called Ignatius’ feast day on July 31.
I, Sophie Minick, think that Ignatius’ love, vision, and God drove him on striving completeness more then anything. I think Ignatius was motivated by faith that he knew it will be okay in the end. I think that because his life verse or motto was, “All for the greater glory of God.” He was able to give up all worldly things for God and I think that is a great accomplishment. I think something that encouraged him was his way that he could see God in everything. He looks at a little bird singing away and he sees God. He looks at a child laughing and sees God’s joyfulness. He sees a beautiful sunset and sees God’s magnificence and beauty. And he sees God as a friend; a trustworthy companion and I think that encourages him a lot. Ignatius can and did rely on God. God helped him through. I think Ignatius was a great success to me, the world and God. I think we all can learn from him and his achievements not his failures like others so let’s start learning.
Sources next page
(1) Appleton, Robert CO. “St Ignatius of Loyola”, “Societey of Jesus”
“Spiritual Exercises” The Catholic Encyclopedia Volume VII, Volume XIV, 1910, 1912,
(2) Newspaper from Database (EBSCO host)
“Loyola Becomes Episcopal Saint” Christian Century 19 Oct’94
NAS Ultra-School Edition, 24 Nov’04 EBSCO host
(3) O’brien, Kevin “The Classroom on Holy Ground” America Vol.188 Issue 18 pg. 8… 5/26/2003 MAS Ultra-School Edition 25/11/04 EBSCO host
(4) Online Source www.faculty.fairfield.edu/jmac/se/se.htm
(5) Online Source http://www.ignatiushistory.info/
(6) Online Source http://www.luc.edu/jesuit/ignatius.bio.html