Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born with the name Iñigo López de Oñaz on October 23 1491 in Azpeitia, Gipuzkoa, Crown of Castile, Spain and died on July 31 1556 in Rome, the Papal States at the age of 64. He was a founding member of the Jesuits, the Society of Jesus. His feast day is celebrated on July 31 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Ignatius of Loyola Biography|
|Date of Birth||October 23 1491|
|Place of Birth||Azpeitia, Gipuzkoa, Crown of Castile, Spain|
|Profession||Founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General|
|Place of Work||France, Spain and Rome, Italy|
|Date of Death||July 31 1556|
|Place of Death||Rome, Papal States|
|Feast Day||July 31|
|Beatification||By Paul V on July 27 1609 in Rome, Papal States|
|Canonization||By Pope Gregory XV on March 12 1622 in Rome, Papal States|
Saint Ignatius of Loyola Life History
St Ignatius of Loyola was born in Azpeitia at the castle of Loyola in the modern world called Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain. He was the last born of the thirteen children of Don Beltrán and Doña Marina.
At his baptism, he took the name Inigo which means “My little one”. This was also the name of St. Enecus (Íñigo of Oña) the Benedictine abbot of San Salvador at Oña who had been canonised in 1259 by Pope Alexander IV. Later on, while at the university in Spain, he changed his name to Ignatius and adopted the surname de Loyola, in reference to where he was born.
St Ignatius of Loyola first born brother Juan Perez had died as a soldier fighting in the Italian Wars under Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba. His mother also died sometime after his birth and María de Garín, a neighbour, began taking care of him. At the age of seven years, his second-born brother married and this gave Ignatius a chance of going back to the castle to be taken care of by the new wife.
His father had anticipated that Ignatius would pursue a religious life and so he tonsured him in readiness of such an eventuality. Contrary to his father’s expectations, Ignatius became a page, serving his relative Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, who was the treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. He began living in the worldly pleasure of gambling, dancing, duelling, fencing and womanizing. His pursuit for fame made him mould his life around the tales of romantic chivalry, the Song of Roland, El Cid and the knights of Camelot.
He joined the military at the age of seventeen and exhibited himself as an expert dancer and a fancy dresser. He would trot around with tight-fitting hose and boots, a sword and dagger at his waist. He would engage in insults, womanizing and violent crimes.
At the age of eighteen years, in 1509, Ignatius started working under Antonio Manrique de Lara, the second. He went to battle many times and escaped unhurt but on May 20 1521, luck was not on his side because, during that Battle of Pamplona, his right leg was severely injured by a cannonball when their fortress of Pamplona was overrun by the French-Navarrese expedition force. He returned home to Loyola where his leg was surgically operated but unfortunately, in the end, it became shorter than the left leg. This would end his military career and make him limp for the rest of his life.
It was during his convalescence after the surgery that St Ignatius of Loyola underwent a spiritual conversion and realized that he was indeed called to religious life as his father had anticipated earlier on. At one time, he had tried to run away from these pulsive thoughts of spiritual conversion when he requested to read his favourite literature, the romances of chivalry, but none was found at home. Instead, Magdalena de Araoz, his sister-in-law, gave him books about the life of Christ and of the Saints to read.
As he continued to read the spiritual books, he came across the writings of ‘De Vita Christi’ by Ludolph of Saxony. The message from this book took control of his heart and mind and inspired his way of meditation and contemplation. It influenced him to follow the example of St Francis of Assisi and other monks. Ludolph of Saxony postulates that while in meditation, place yourself mentally at the scene of any Gospel story and contemplate as if you were there physically. St Ignatius of Loyola would embrace and promote this ‘Simple Contemplation’ method whenever he lead people in any meditation later on when he joined the religious life.
Still, during his convalescence period, two conflicting thoughts kept pestering his mind. This was what to do to serve his king and the lady he was in love with or serve God by imitating the saints he had read about. In the end, he realized that the romantic and heroic thoughts ended up in dissatisfaction while the saintly thoughts ended with much peace and joy.
When he was able to walk again, Ignatius made a resolution that he would do penance and ultimately go on pilgrimage to Holy Land and kiss the ground where Jesus Christ had walked on. In March 1522, he visited the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery of the Order of Saint Benedict located on the mountain of Montserrat in Monistrol de Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain. He examined his conscience and confessed his past sins. He started wearing sack clothes and gave away his elegant clothes to the poor.
After leaving the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery, he walked to the nearby town of Manresa where he humbly fended for himself by doing minor chores at a local hospital. He spent most of his time praying in a cave and laying down the tenets of his Spiritual Exercises.
St Ignatius of Loyola saw some visions while working in the hospital which reinforced his dislike for earthly things because when you are with them you seem happy but when they vanish, you are left empty, desolate and rudderless.
St Ignatius of Loyola made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in September 1523 aiming to live there forever but the Franciscans sent him back because of the hostility of the Turks. In Spain, he attended a free public grammar school from 1524 then joined the University of Alcalá and studied theology and Latin.
While still in the University, Ignatius would preach in the streets. At one time while preaching, three women experience ecstatic states. One fell down, another rolled on the ground and the other was gripped by convulsions. He was arrested and put in prison at Salamanca. He was interrogated for heresy and preaching without a degree in theology but was acquitted.
This turn of events necessitated Ignatius to move to study at the University of Paris in France, first at the ascetic Collège de Montaigu and later for a Master’s degree at the Collège Sainte-Barbe.
While in France, Ignatius met some fellow students who became his close companions. They were Francis Xavier, Peter Faber, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, Nicholas Bobadilla and Simão Rodrigues. On August 15 1534, they all took the solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and form the Society of Jesus at the Saint Peter’s Chapel. In 1535, at the age of forty-three, Ignatius graduated with a magister degree from the University of Paris. This earned him the title ‘Master Ignatius’ from his peers.
Ignatius became a priest in 1537 but celebrated his first Holy Mass on Christmas morning in 1538, in the church of St. Mary Major in Rome.
From his group of six companions, Ignatius formed the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1539. Two of these companions Peter Faber and Francis Xavier became saints. Pope Paul III approved the society on September 27 1540 and St Ignatius of Loyola became the first Father General.
One of Ignatius friends called Juan de Vega was made the Viceroy of Sicily by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was impressed by the work and service of the Jesuits and consequently invited them to Sicily where they opened a Jesuit college in Messina. This college became a success and therefore the rules there were replicated in the subsequent colleges.
Ignatius thereafter sent his companions to Europe and the rest of the world to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. He always told them to “Go, set the world on fire”. The Jesuits still use this phrase up to date.
St Ignatius of Loyola wrote the Jesuit Constitutions which reiterated their vow to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope, their absolute obedience to the Pope and to superiors in the Church hierarchy and most importantly self-denial. They should empty their egos like if they were a dead body. Their principle became ‘for the greater glory of God’ “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam“
St Ignatius of Loyola’s Birth
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born with the name Iñigo López de Oñaz on October 23 1491 in Azpeitia, Gipuzkoa, Crown of Castile, Spain. His father was Don Beltrán and his mother was Doña Marina.
St Ignatius of Loyola’s Death
He died of the Roman Fever on July 31 1556 in Rome, the Papal States at the age of 64 years. From his time as a student, he had stomach problems that haunted him to his death. His body was initially buried on August 1 1556 in the crypt of the Maria della Strada Church but in 1568 the church was demolished and replaced with the Church of the Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
St Ignatius of Loyola was beatified July 27 1609 by Pope Paul V in Rome, Papal States.
St Ignatius of Loyola was canonized on March 12 1622 by Pope Gregory XV in Rome, Papal States.
St Ignatius of Loyola Feast Day
His feast day is celebrated on July 31, the day he died, every year in the Catholic Church.
St Ignatius of Loyola is the Patron Saint of
- Society of Jesus
- Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
- Sulat, Eastern Samar, Philippines
- Loyola University Maryland, United States
- Junín, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Diocese of San Sebastián
- Dampas, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
- Bruges, Belgium
- Bilbao, Biscay and Gipuzkoa
- Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Basque Country
- Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Zamboanga City, Philippines
- Ateneo de Naga University, Naga City, Philippines
- Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines
- Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, Philippines
- Archdiocese of Baltimore, United States
- Antwerp, Belgium
Suscipe Prayer by Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
My memory, my understanding
And my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.Suscipe Prayer by Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Give me only your love and your grace,
That is enough for me.
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