St Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits (1491-1556)

Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits (1491-1556)

Founder of the Company of the Jesuits, Ignatius was born in Spain, at the castle of Loyola. He first was a page-boy for King Ferdinand V. Later on, he began a career in the army. He was considered to be very brave - no one could get a grip on his courage - but on account of his prideful attitude and love of pleasure, his behavior completely lacked in Christian virtues.

Out of a mundane knight God shaped one of the greatest Christian knights of all times

At the siege of Pamplona, the young officer's right leg was broken by canon ball. In a matter of a few days, Ignatius was reduced to accepting the last rites. Afterwards, in a dream, he saw St Peter laying his hands on his injured leg and being healed. When he woke up, although his leg was stiff, he was out of danger. During his long convalescence, he asked for books to read as a distraction. He was given a "Life of Jesus" and a "Life of the Saints". At first, he read distractedly, but soon he felt a deep emotion within.


He was obliged to fight a violent inner battle within himself, but at the end he received grace from God. As men of his rank do not settle for half measures, he became a saint from that day, as he resolved to do. He started to treat his body with the greatest rigor and would get up every night and cry over his past sins. One night, by the intervention of the Virgin Mary, Refuge of sinners, he solemnly dedicated himself to Jesus, and swore that he would be faithful to God for ever.

So as to reassure him about the validity of his conversion, Mary appeared to him one night

Surrounded by light and holding the Enfant Jesus in her arms, Mary also made herself visible on another occasion. Later, Ignatius made a general confession.  As was the custom for knights in those days, he held a vigil of arms in front of Our Lady of Montserrat. Following these experiences, Ignatius moved to Manresa and started to practice austerities that have only been seen in the lives of most renowned anchorites. Ignatius lived mainly off charity, his diet being composed merely of bread and water. On his knees, wearing a hair-shirt, he would spend six to seven hours praying each day. Needless to say that all attempts on the devil’s behalf to discourage Ignatius were fruitless. In that solitude, he wrote his Spiritual Exercises, one of the most sublime books ever written by man.


Since it is more important to talk about the foundation of the Company of Jesus (1534), which could also be called the Knights of Christ or the Road of Christianity, we will only just mention his pilgrimages in the Holy Land and elsewhere. In the Catholic Church, this foundation is certainly one of the most glorious. In terms of  secular science or sacred sciences to teaching and numerous ministries, one thing is sure - nothing was left unattempted by the Company of Jesus, whose motto was: "Ad majorem Dei Gloriam" ("To the greatest glory of God").



("Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950).