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Ignatius of Loyola

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Saint Ignatius of Loyola
St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Founder of the Jesuits.jpg
Portrait by Peter Paul Rubens
Born c. October 23, 1491
Loyola, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Kingdom of Castille (currently Spain)
Died July 31, 1556 (aged 64)
Rome, Papal States
Venerated in Catholic Church, Anglican Communion
Beatified July 27, 1609 by Paul V
Canonized March 12, 1622 by Gregory XV
Feast July 31
Attributes Eucharist, chasuble, book, cross
Patronage Dioceses of San Sebastián and Bilbao, Biscay & Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, Society of Jesus, soldiers, Educators and Education.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Basque: Ignazio Loiolakoa, Spanish: Ignacio de Loyola; c. October 23, 1491[1] – July 31, 1556) was a Spanish priest and theologian, who founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General.[2] The Jesuit order served the Pope as missionaries, and they were bound by a vow of absolute obedience to the Pope.[3] They therefore emerged as an important political force during the time of the Counter-Reformation.

Ignatius is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He recorded his method in a celebrated treatise called the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other mental exercises, first published in 1548.

Ignatius was beatified in 1609, and then canonized, receiving the title of Saint on March 12, 1622. His feast day is celebrated on July 31. He is the patron saint of the provinces of Gipuzkoa and Biscay as well as the Society of Jesus, and was declared patron saint of all spiritual retreats by Pope Pius XI in 1922. Ignatius is also a foremost patron saint of soldiers.[4]

Early life[edit]

Sanctuary of Loyola, in Azpeitia, built over Ignatius' birthplace

Íñigo López de Loyola (sometimes erroneously called Íñigo López de Recalde)[5] was born in the municipality of Azpeitia at the castle of Loyola in today's Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain. He was baptized Íñigo, after St. Enecus (Innicus) (Basque: Eneko; Spanish: Íñigo) Abbot of Oña,[5] a medieval Basque name which perhaps means "My little one".[6] It is not clear when he began using the Latin name "Ignatius" instead of his baptismal name "Íñigo".[7] It seems he did not intend to change his name, but rather adopted a name which he believed was a simple variant of his own, for use in France and Italy where it was better understood.[8]

Íñigo was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother died soon after his birth, and he was then brought up by María de Garín, the local blacksmith's wife.[9] Íñigo adopted the surname "de Loyola" in reference to the Basque village of Loyola where he was born.

Military career[edit]

Ignatius in armor
"Saint Ignatius of Loyola's Vision of Christ and God the Father at La Storta" by Domenichino[10]

As a boy Íñigo became a page in the service of a relative, Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, treasurer (contador mayor) of the kingdom of Castile.

As a young man Íñigo had a great love for military exercises as well as a tremendous desire for fame. He framed his life around the stories of El Cid, the knights of Camelot, and the Song of Roland.[11] He joined the army at seventeen, and according to one biographer, he strutted about "with his cape slinging open to reveal his tight-fitting hose and boots; a sword and dagger at his waist".[12] According to another he was "a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, a womanizer, sensitive to insult, and a rough punkish swordsman who used his privileged status to escape prosecution for violent crimes committed with his priest brother at carnival time."[13] Upon encountering a Moor who denied the divinity of Jesus, he challenged him to a duel to the death, and ran him through with his sword.[12] He dueled many other men as well.[12]

In 1509, at the age of 18, Íñigo took up arms for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera. His diplomacy and leadership qualities earned him the title "servant of the court", which made him very useful to the Duke.[14] Under the Duke's leadership, Íñigo participated in many battles without injury. But at the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 he was gravely injured when a French-Navarrese expedition force stormed the fortress of Pamplona on May 20, 1521. A cannonball hit him in the legs, wounding his right leg and fracturing the left in multiple places.[15] Íñigo was returned to his father's castle in Loyola, where, in an era that knew nothing of anesthetics, he underwent several surgical operations to repair his legs, having the bones set and then rebroken. In the end these operations left one leg shorter than the other: Íñigo would limp for the rest of his life, and his military career was ended.[13]

Religious conversion and visions[edit]

Manresa, Chapel in the Cave of Saint Ignatius where Ignatius practised ascetism and conceived his Spiritual Exercises

During his recovery from surgery, Íñigo underwent a spiritual conversion which led to his experiencing a call to religious life. Hospitals in those days were run by religious orders, and the reading material available to bedridden patient tended to be selected from scripture or devotional literature. This is how Íñigo came to read a series of religious texts on the life of Jesus and on the lives of the saints. The work which most particularly struck him was the De Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony.[16] This book would influence his whole life, inspiring him to devote himself to God and follow the example of Francis of Assisi and other great monks. It also inspired his method of meditation, since Ludolph proposes that the reader place himself mentally at the scene of the Gospel story, visualising the crib at the Nativity, etc. This type of meditation, known as Simple Contemplation, was the basis for the method that St. Ignatius would promote in his Spiritual Exercises.[17][18][19]

While still convalescing, Íñigo resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to the conversion of Infidels in the Holy Land. In March of 1522 he had recovered sufficiently to walk again, and he visited the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, where, during an overnight vigil at the shrine, he experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. He then hung his sword and dagger before the statue of the Virgin.

From Montserrat he walked on to the nearby town of Manresa (Catalonia), where he lived for about a year, begging for his keep, and then eventually doing chores at a local hospital in exchange for food and lodging. For several months he spent much of his time praying in a cave nearby[20] where he practiced rigorous asceticism, praying for seven hours a day, and formulating the fundamentals of his Spiritual Exercises.

Íñigo also experienced a series of visions in full daylight while at the hospital. These repetitive visions appeared as "a form in the air near him and this form gave him much consolation because it was exceedingly beautiful ... it somehow seemed to have the shape of a serpent and had many things that shone like eyes, but were not eyes. He received much delight and consolation from gazing upon this object ... but when the object vanished he became disconsolate".[21]

Period of study[edit]

In September 1523, Íñigo made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the goal of settling there. He remained there from September 3 to 23 but he was sent back to Europe by the Franciscans.[22]

He returned to Barcelona and at the age of thirty-three began to attend a free public grammar school to prepare himself for entrance to a university. When his preparation was complete, he then went on to the University of Alcalá,[23] where he studied Theology and Latin from 1524 and 1534.

There he encountered some women who had been called before the Inquisition. These women were considered alumbrados (Illuminated, Illuminati, or Enlightened Ones) - a group that was linked in their zeal and spirituality to Franciscan reforms, but had incurred mounting suspicion on the part of the administrators of the Inquisition. At one point, Íñigo was preaching on the street when three of these devout women began to experience ecstatic states. "One fell senseless, another sometimes rolled about on the ground, another had been seen in the grip of convulsions or shuddering and sweating in anguish." This suspicious activity had taken place while Íñigo was preaching without a degree in theology. Íñigo was then singled out for interrogation by the Inquisition; however, he was later released.[24]

After these adventurous activities, Íñigo (by now Ignatius) moved to Paris to study at the famous University. He studied at the ascetical Collège de Montaigu, where he remained for over seven years.

He arrived during a period of anti-Protestant turmoil which forced John Calvin to flee France. Very soon after his arrival Ignatius had gathered around him six key companions, all of whom he had met as fellow students at the University.[25]Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, and Nicholas Bobadilla, all Spanish; Peter Faber, a Savoyard; and Simão Rodrigues of Portugal. Peter Faber, a young man from Savoy in the south of France, and Francis Xavier, a nobleman from the eastern end of the Basque country, were his first roommates,[13] and would become his closest associates in founding the Jesuit order.

"On the morning of the 15th of August, 1534, in the chapel of church of Saint Peter, at Montmartre, Loyola and his six companions, of whom only one was a priest, met and took upon themselves the solemn vows of their lifelong work." [26]

Later, they were joined by Saint Francis Borgia, a member of the House of Borgia, who was the main aide of Emperor Charles V, and other nobles.

Ignatius obtained a master's degree from the University of Paris at the age of forty-three. In later life In later life he was often called "Master Ignatius" because of this.[26]

Foundation of the Jesuit order[edit]

Ignatius as Superior General

In 1539, with St. Peter Faber and St. Francis Xavier, Ignatius formed the Society of Jesus, which was approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III. Ignatius was chosen as the first Superior General of the order and invested with the title of Father General by the Jesuits.

Ignatius sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Juan de Vega, the ambassador of Charles V at Rome, met Ignatius there. Esteeming Ignatius and the Jesuits, when Vega was appointed Viceroy of Sicily, he brought Jesuits with him. A Jesuit college was opened at Messina, which proved a success, and its rules and methods were afterwards copied in other colleges.[27]

In 1548 Ignatius was briefly brought before the Roman Inquisition for examination of his book of Spiritual Exercises. But he was release and the book was finally given papal permission to be printed. It was published in a format such that the exercises were designed to be carried out over a period of 28–30 days.

Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola at Gesù Church, Rome

Ignatius also wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a monarchical organization for the order, and stressed absolute self-denial and obedience to the Pope and to superiors in the catholic hierarchy, using the motto perinde ac cadaver - "as if a dead body",[28] i.e. that the good Jesuit should be as well-disciplined as a corpse.[29] But his main principle became the Jesuit motto: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam ("for the greater glory of God").

During the years 1553–1555, Ignatius dictated his autobiography to his secretary, Father Gonçalves da Câmara. This autobiography is a valuable key for understanding his Spiritual Exercises. It was kept in the archives of the Jesuit order for about 150 years, until the Bollandists published the text in Acta Sanctorum.

Death and canonization[edit]

Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556, as a result of the Roman Fever, a severe case of malaria that recurred in Rome, Italy, at different points in history. At this time he was placed in a wooden shrine, his body was then covered with his priestly garments. On August 1 the shrine was then buried in the small Maria della Strada Church. In 1568 that church was pulled down and replaced with the Church of the Gesu`. Saint Ignatius was put into a new coffin and reinterred in the Church of the Gesu`in Rome Italy.

Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609, and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.[30] His feast day is celebrated annually on July 31, the day he died. Saint Ignatius is venerated as the patron saint of Catholic soldiers, the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore,[31] the Basque country, and various towns and cities in his native region.

Legacy[edit]

Ignatius has to this day a powerful and respectable legacy. Of the institutions dedicated to Saint Ignatius, one of the most famous is the Basilica of St Ignatius Loyola, built next to the house where he was born in Azpeitia, the Basque Country, Spain. The house itself, now a museum, is incorporated into the basilica complex. In addition, he has had a global impact, having been the influence behind numerous Jesuit schools and educational institutions worldwide.

In 1949 he was the subject of a Spanish biographical film The Captain from Loyola in which he was played by Rafael Durán.

In 2016 he was the subject of a Filipino film Ignacio de Loyola in which he was played by Andreas Muñoz.[32]

Genealogy[edit]

Original shield of Oñaz-Loyola

Shield of Oñaz-Loyola[edit]

The Shield of Oñaz-Loyola is a symbol of St. Ignatius family's Oñaz lineage, and is used by many Jesuit institutions around the world. As the official colors of the Loyola family are maroon and gold,[33] the Oñaz shield consists of seven maroon bars going diagonally from the upper left to the lower right on a gold field. The bands were granted by the King of Spain to each of the Oñaz brothers, in recognition of their bravery in battle. The Loyola shield features a pair of rampant gray wolves flanking each side of a cooking pot. The wolf was a symbol of nobility, while the entire design represented the family's generosity towards their military followers. According to legend, wolves had enough to feast on after the soldiers had eaten. Both shields were combined as a result of the intermarriage of the two families in 1261.[34][35]

Lineage[edit]

Villoslada established the following detailed genealogy of St. Ignatius:[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b García Villoslada, Ricardo (1986). San Ignacio de Loyola: Nueva biografía (in Spanish). La Editorial Católica. ISBN 84-220-1267-7. We deduct that, (...), Iñigo de Loyola should have been born before October 23, 1491. 
  2. ^ Idígoras Tellechea, José Ignacio (1994). "When was he born? His nurse's account". Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint. Chicago: Loyola University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-8294-0779-0. 
  3. ^ "The Counter-Reformation". Washington State University. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  4. ^ "Summer Fiestas" (PDF). euskadi.net. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  5. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg John Hungerford Pollen (1913). "St._Ignatius_Loyola". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  6. ^ "Nombres: Eneko". Euskaltzaindia (The Royal Academy of the Basque Language). Retrieved 2009-04-23.  Article in Spanish
  7. ^ Verd, Gabriel María (1976). "El "Íñigo" de San Ignacio de Loyola". Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu (in Spanish). Roma: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu. 45: 95–128. ISSN 0037-8887. 
  8. ^ Verd, Gabriel María (1991). "De Iñigo a Ignacio. El cambio de nombre en San Ignacio de Loyola". Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu (in Spanish). Roma: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu. 60: 113–160. ISSN 0037-8887. That St. Ignatius of Loyola's name was changed is a known fact, but it cannot be said that it is widely known in the historiography of the saint — neither the characteristics of the names Iñigo and Ignacio nor the reasons for the change. It is first necessary to make clear the meaning of the names; they are distinct, despite the persistently held opinion in onomastic (dictionaries) and popular thought. In Spain Ignacio and Iñigo are at times used interchangeably just as if they were Jacobo and Jaime. With reference to the name Iñigo, it is fitting to give some essential notions to eliminate ambiguities and help understand what follows. This name first appears on the Ascoli brome (dated November 18, 90 BC), in a list of Spanish knights belonging to a Turma salluitana or Saragossan. It speaks of Elandus Enneces f[ilius], and according to Menéndez Pidal the final «s» is the «z» of Spanish patronymics, and could be nothing other than Elando Iñiguez. It is an ancestral Hispanic name. Ignacio, on the other hand, is a Latin name. In classical Latin there is Egnatius with an initial E. It appears only twice with an initial I (Ignatius) in the sixty volumes of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. This late Latin and Greek form prevailed. In the classical period Egnatius was used as a nomen (gentilitial name) and not as a praenomen (first name) or cognomen (surname), except in very rare cases. (...) The most important conclusion, perhaps unexpected, but not unknown, is that St. Ignatius did not change his name. That is to say, he did not intend to change it. What he did was to adopt for France and Italy a name which he believed was a simple variant of his own, and which was more acceptable among foreigners.... If he had remained in Spain, he would have, without doubt, remained Iñigo. 
  9. ^ Page 9, Ignatius of Loyola, the Psychology of a Saint; W.W Meissner SJ MD, Yale University Press, 1992
  10. ^ "Saint Ignatius of Loyola's Vision of Christ and God the Father at La Storta". lacma.org. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). November 30, 2016. 
  11. ^ Ironically, the Song of Roland has Roland being slain by Moors, when historically his death was at the hands of Basques like Íñigo himself.
  12. ^ a b c Richard Cohen (August 5, 2003). By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions. Modern Library Paperbacks. 
  13. ^ a b c Traub, S.J.,George and Mooney, Ph.D., Debra. "A Biography of St. Ignatius Loyola", Xavier University
  14. ^ In Spanish the title was "Gentilhombre", but this should not be understood as synonymous with the English term gentleman, which denotes a man of good family. See Thomas Rochford, Ignatius Loyola: the pilgrim and man of prayer who founded the Society of Jesus "St. Ignatius Loyola: the pilgrim and man of prayer who founded the Society of Jesus", accessed Nov. 15, 2007.
  15. ^ Rochford, Thomas. "St. Ignatius Loyola: the pilgrim and man of prayer who founded the Society of Jesus". Society of Jesus. Retrieved 2007-11-15. 
  16. ^ De Vita Christi is a commentary on the Gospels, using extracts from the works of over sixty Church Fathers, and particularly quoting from St Gregory the Great, St Basil, St Augustine and the Venerable Bede. This work took Ludolph forty years to complete.
  17. ^ Sr Mary Immaculate Bodenstedt, "The Vita Christi of Ludolphus the Carthusian", a Dissertation, Washington: Catholic University of America Press 1944 British Library Catalogue No. Ac2692.y/29.(16).
  18. ^ "The Vita Christi" by Charles Abbot Conway Analecta Cartusiana 34
  19. ^ "Ludolph's Life of Christ" by Father Henry James Coleridge in The Month Vol. 17 (New Series VI) July — December 1872, pp. 337–370
  20. ^ "The Cave an artistic heritage". The Cave. Place of pilgrimage and worship. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Jean Lacouture, Jesuits, A Multibiography, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995, p. 18.
  22. ^ Twelve years later, standing before the Pope with his companions, Ignatius would again propose sending his companions as emissaries to Jerusalem. Jean Lacouture, Jesuits, A Multibiography, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995, p. 24.
  23. ^ That is, the present-day Complutense University of Madrid, not the newer University of Alcalá established in 1977.
  24. ^ Jesuits, A Multibiography by Jean Lacouture, pp. 27–29, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995
  25. ^ Michael Servetus Research Website that includes graphical documents in the University of Paris of: Ignations of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmerón, Nicholas Bobadilla, Peter Faber and Simao Rodrigues, as well as Michael de Villanueva ("Servetus")
  26. ^ a b History of The World by John Clarke Ridpath, Vol. V, pp. 238, New York: Merrill & Baker, 1899
  27. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg J.H. Pollen (1913). "History of the Jesuits Before the 1773 Suppression". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  28. ^ Jesuitas (1583). "SEXTA PARS - CAP. 1". Constitutiones Societatis Iesu: cum earum declarationibus (in Latin). 
  29. ^ Ignatius of Loyola (1970). The constitutions of the society of Jesus. Translated by George E. Ganss. Institute of Jesuit Sources. p. 249. Carried and directed by Divine Providence through the agency of the superior as if he were a lifeless body which allows itself to be carried to any place and to be treated in any manner desired. 
  30. ^ Life of Ignatius - New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus
  31. ^ St. Ignatius Feast Day – The Archdiocese of Baltimore.
  32. ^ Tantiangco, Aya (20 July 2016). "PHL film 'Ignacio de Loyola' not just for the religious, say director and star". GMA Network (company). Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  33. ^ Manresa Iconography – Manresa House of Retreats, Convent, LA.
  34. ^ Loyola Crests – Loyola High School, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  35. ^ The Crest – Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview, Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia.

Bibliography[edit]

A page from Spiritual Exercises

Primary

Secondary

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
None
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
1540–1556
Succeeded by
Diego Laynez
  1. ^ For information on the O'Conner and other translations, see notes in A Pilgrim's Journey: The Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola Page 11-12.