Saint Ignatius Loyola, b. 1491, d. July 31, 1556, was the founder of the Society of Jesus, or JESUITS. He was born into a noble Basque family at the Loyola family castle near San Sebastian in northern Spain. He was educated at the royal court of Castile. While in the service of the viceroy of Navarre, Ignatius received a leg wound in a battle with the French in 1521. Although not very religious, he was forced through boredom to read a life of Christ while convalescing. Reflection on this reading brought about a profound change in his religious attitude.
Once recovered, Ignatius decided to set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. First, however, he stopped at the famed Benedictine abbey of Montserrat in Catalonia, where he dedicated himself to God. He then spent nearly a year in a spiritual retreat at nearby Manresa. Here he had the mystical experience that would be later developed into his method of spirituality known as the Spiritual Exercises. He also discovered the orientation of his life's work. He traveled on as a poor man and beggar to Rome, to Venice, and finally to Jerusalem.
After his return to Spain, Ignatius studied Latin at Barcelona (1524-26) and continued his schooling with the study of philosophy at Alcala (1526-27) and at Salamanca (1527). In 1528 he began his theological training at Paris. There he gathered his first associates, six in all (including Saint FRANCIS XAVIER), who together took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre in 1534. They were ordained in 1537.
The group wished to work in the Holy Land, but Europe's wars with Ottoman Turkey prevented them. As an alternative, they decided to offer their services to the pope. They were received (1538) by Pope PAUL III, and Ignatius drew up the rule of life for a new religious order, which was approved by Paul in 1540. Ignatius became the first general of the Society of Jesus.
By the time of Ignatius's death in 1556, the society had spread widely and had over a thousand members. Ignatius and his order had become a major factor in the COUNTER-REFORMATION. Besides his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius also dictated an autobiography, wrote the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, and left several thousand letters. His great theme was the service of God and God's greater glory. Ignatius was canonized in 1622 and is the patron of spiritual retreats. Feast day: July 31.
At this time a reformation (usually called the COUNTER-REFORMATION) was also taking place within Roman Catholicism. One of its leaders was IGNATIUS LOYOLA, who started the Society of Jesus in 1534. The Jesuits established schools and colleges throughout Europe. In the 17th century JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE established the Christian Brothers, who maintained an extensive system of Catholic schools for the poor. At Reims, they established a teacher-training institution.
Created on ... Mayo 12, 2001 , renovado agosto 2003.