File:Ignatius portrait by del Conte.jpg

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, also known as Ignacio (Íñigo) López de Loyola (December 24, 1491 – July 31, 1556), was the principal founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a religious order of the Catholic Church professing direct service to the Pope in terms of mission. Members of the order are called Jesuits. He was born in 1491 at the castle of Loyola above Azpeitia in Guipúzcoa and died in Rome on July 31, 1556.

St. Ignatius Loyola walked with a slight limp after being injured while defending the fortress at Pamplona in northern Spain. Slowed down by a lengthy recovery from that injury, he experienced an interior conversion that sent him on ever further journeys, a pilgrim propelled by an abiding devotion to Jesus Christ.The compiler of the Spiritual Exercises and a gifted spiritual director, Ignatius has been described by Pope Benedict XVI as being "above all a man of God, who gave the first place of his life to God...a man of profound prayer." He was very active in fighting the Protestant Reformation and promoting the subsequent Counter-Reformation. He was beatified and then canonized to receive the title of Saint on March 12, 1622. His feast day is July 31, celebrated annually. He is the patron saint of Guipúzcoa as well as of the Society of Jesus.

Early life

Íñigo Lopez de Recalde was born in the municipality of Azpeitia at the castle of Loyola in the Kingdom of Navarre, in today's Basque Country (historical territory) of Guipúzcoa, Spain. The southern part of the Pyrenees of the Kingdom of Navarre, having been absorbed by the Kingdom of Castile in 1499, became part of the unified Kingdom of Spain. The youngest of 13 children, Ignatius was only seven years old when his mother died. In 1506, Íñigo adopted the last name "de Loyola" in reference of the city where he was born and later became a page in the service of a relative, Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, treasurer (contador mayor) of the kingdom of Crown of Castile.

In 1509, Íñigo took up arms for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre. According to Thomas Rochford sj., his diplomacy and leadership qualities made him a Gentilhombre should be understood as servant of the court. By contrast, the English term Gentleman denotes a man of good family. In this sense the word equates with the French Gentilhomme (nobleman), which latter term was in Great Britain long confined to the peerage.(see Spanish Wikipedia article Gentilhombre.) very useful to the Duke. Under Duke's leadership, he had participated in many battles without injury to himself. But when the French army, supporting the Navarrese monarchy expelled in 1512, stormed the Pamplona's fortress at on May 20, 1521, a round shot cannonball shot wounded one of his legs and broke the other. Heavily injured, Íñigo was returned to his castle. He was very concerned about the injuries on his leg, and he was exposed (by his own decision) to several surgical operations, which were, at that time, very painful processes.

Religious aspiration places

During the time he was recovering, Ignatius read a number of religious texts on the life of Jesus and the saints and became fired with an ambition to lead a life of self-denying labor and emulate the heroic deeds of Francis of Assisi and other great monastic leaders. He resolved to devote himself to the conversion of non-Christians in the Holy Land. Upon recovery, he visited the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat (March 25, 1522), where he hung his military vestments before an image of Mary, the mother of Jesus|the Virgin. He then went and spent several months in a cave near the town of Manresa, Catalonia where he practiced the most rigorous asceticism. He begged his journey to the Holy Land, as a way of self denial and sacrifice. After that, he studied at the ascetic Collège de Montaigu of the University of Paris, where he remained over seven years. In later life, he was often called "Master Ignatius" in recognition of his final academic credential. While in Paris, his spiritual preaching granted him some attention from the french Inquisition.

By 1534 he had six key companions, all of whom he met as students at the University—Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmerons, Diego Laynez, and Nicholas Bobadilla, all Spanish; Peter Faber, a Frenchman; and Simão Rodrigues of Portugal. Later on he would be joined by nobles like Francisco de Borja, a member of the Borgia familiy, who was the main aide of Emperor Charles V.

Ignatius Loyola was the main creator and initial Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a religious organization of the Catholic Church which agreed straight service to the Pope in conditions of mission. The Members of the organization are called Jesuits. He is famous as the gatherer of the Spiritual Exercises, and he is kept in mind as a talented spiritual director. He was very vigorous in fighting the Protestant Reformation and promoting the following Counter-Reformation. He was beatified and then canonized and received the title of Saint on March 12, 1622. He is the patron saint of the state of Guipúzcoa as along with the Society of Jesus.

Ignatius Loyola wrote Spiritual Exercises from 1522-1524, the publication is a simple set of meditations, prayers, and various other mental exercises. The exercises of the book were designed to be carried out over a period of 28-30 days. The book was 200 pages and was designed to enhance and strengthen a person's faith experience in Roman Catholic Church manners.

Foundation of the Society of Jesus

On August 15, 1534, he and the other six met in the crypt of the Chapel of St. Denis on, Montmartre in Paris and founded the Society of Jesus - "to enter upon hospital and missionary work in Jerusalem, or to go without questioning wherever the pope might direct". In 1537 they traveled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. While in Venice, they attended those affected by the plague.Pope Paul III confirmed the order through the Papal bull Regimini militantis (September 27, [540), but limited the number of its members to sixty. This limitation was removed through the Papal bull Injunctum nobis on March 14, 1543.

Father General of the Jesuits

Ignatius was chosen as the first Superior General of his religious order, invested with the title of Father General by the Jesuits. He sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Juan de Vega, the ambassador of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor at Rome had met Ignatius there. Esteeming him and the Jesuits, when Vega was appointed Viceroy of Sicily he brought Jesuits with him. A Jesuit college was opened at Messina; success was marked, and its rules and methods were afterwards copied in other colleges. In 1548 Spiritual Exercises was finally printed, and he was briefly brought before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but was released.

Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a monarchical organization and stressed absolute self-abnegation and obedience to Pope and superiors (perinde ac cadaver, "well-disciplined like a corpse" as Ignatius put it). His main principle became the Jesuit motto: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ("for the greater glory of God"). The Jesuits were a major factor in the Counter-Reformation.

During 1553-1555 Ignatius dictated his life's story to his secretary, Father Gonçalves da Câmara. This autobiography is a valuable key for the understanding of his Spiritual Exercises. It was kept in the archives for about 150 years, until the Bollandists published the text in Acta Sanctorum. A critical edition exists in Vol. I (1943) of the Fontes Narrativi of the series Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu. He died in Rome on July 31, 1556 after a long struggle with chronic stomach ailments.

Canonization and legacy

Ignatius was beatified by Paul V on July 27, 1609, and canonized by Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. 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 ordinariate of the Philippine military, the Basque country and various towns and cities in his native region.

On April 22, 2006, Feast of Our Lady, Mother of the Society of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI said that "St Ignatius of Loyola institutions, are dedicated to St Ignatius. Perhaps the most famous of them is Basilica of St Ignacius Loyola built next to the house where he was born in Azpeitia, the Basque Country. The house itself, now a museum, is incorporated into the basilica complex.

Preceded by
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Succeeded by
Diego Lainez



  • The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius (Translated by Anthony Mottola, Ph.D), Doubleday (publisher), 1964. ISBN 978-0-385-02436-5
  • Loyola, (St.) Ignatius (1900). The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola, translated by Joseph O'Conner. Illustrated. From Internet Archive.[1]
  • Loyola, (St.) Ignatius (1992). The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola, with Related Documents (J. F. O'Callaghan, Trans). New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 0-8232-1480-X.


  • Caraman, Philip (1990). Ignatius Loyola: A Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-250130-5.
  • O'Malley, John W (1993). The First Jesuits. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-30312-1.
  • Meissner, William W (1992). Ignatius of Loyola: The Psychology of a Saint. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06079-3.

External links

See further

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Ignatius_of_Loyola. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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