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Jesuit Founder

St. Ignasius Loyola

Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491, in Azpeitia, Guipuzcoa Province, Northern Spain. He was the youngest of 13 children. At the age of 16, he started serving Juan Velazquez, a heir to the throne of Spain. On that time, Inigo loved worldly pleasures, such as gambling and drinking, and he also had a bad personality. On May 1521, when he was 30, Inigo became an officer in Pamplona fortress-city. At that time, Spain was at war with France; the French were trying to take Pamplona with a greater force than Spain had in Pamplona. The Spanish Commander had a plan to surrender, but Inigo managed to persuade him to fight, at least for the pride of Spain. Indeed, Spain lost the war after all and Inigo suffered injury to one leg had broken on the other one. The French admired his courage and loyalty to Spain and let him return to Loyola to gain recovery. After numerous surgeries, his legs recovered although one became shorter than the other.

Inigo's Repentance

During his recovery from an injury caused by the war, he tried to fill his time by reading books about Christ, Saints and “Following the Footsteps of Christ” by Thomas A. Khempis. More he read those books, more he wanted to follow the footsteps of the Saints. On March 1522, he took an important decision in his life. He decided to go to Jerusalem to live in the city alike with the Lord at the time when he lived. As the first step, he made a journey to Barcelona. Before so, he went into exile and took on hermitage in the Mother Mary of Montserrat shrine for three days, also praying and confessing to his sins. After that, he went, left his knife and sword, and gave his luxurious robe to a beggar. He himself wore clothes made of coarse material.

He continued his journey to Barcelona and rested in a city by the Candera river, name Manresa. Finally, he stayed in a cave near the city for 10 months, far from his plan of only a few days. On that period of time, he prayed and worked in a local inn. The religious experience he got in Manresa became the origin of the “Spiritual Exercise”. Arriving in Barcelona, he went in a boat to Rome and asked for permission to go to the Holy Land, where he was driven out while trying to stay there. In the age of 33, he tried to become a priest. He started from the basics, because he didn’t understand Latin.

He continued his studies in Paris, France. Here, he shared room with Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. They and three others decided to form the “Societatis Jesu” or “Society of Jesus” This order’s motto is Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam (AMDG), or “For the greater glory of God”. Ignatius Loyola gave his eternal vows on Christmas 1538 in St. Mary Major in the Chapel of the Manger. And on September 27th 1540, Pope Paul III legalized this new order.

After 18 years being a priest, Ignatius’ health started to decline, which was caused by his stomach disease. On the night of July 30th, 1556, Ignatius passed away. He was beatified on July 27th, 1609 by Pope Gregorius XV, and on March 12nd, 1622, he was canonized as a Saint.

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