Fondateur de la Compagnie de Jésus (✝ 1556)
Né en Espagne d'une noble famille, benjamin de treize enfants, Ignace est d'abord page à la cour puis chevalier rêvant d'exploits. En 1521, les Français assiègent Pampelune. Ignace s'illustre parmi les défenseurs de la ville quand un boulet de canon lui broie la jambe et brise sa carrière. Il rentre au château familial sur un brancard. Ayant épuisé les récits de chevalerie, il entame la vie des saints. C'est la conversion, totale, brutale. Dès qu'il peut marcher, il se rend dans une grotte à Manrèse, non loin de l'abbaye bénédictine de Montserrat. Il y découvrira sa vocation propre: non la contemplation, mais le service de Dieu parmi les hommes. C'est là qu'il rédige ses "Exercices spirituels" où il consigne ses expériences spirituelles. Après un pèlerinage en Terre Sainte, il commence ses études de théologie à Paris. Il partage sa chambre avec un jeune étudiant: saint François Xavier et le contact n'est pas toujours facile. Quelque temps plus tard, le 15 août 1534, l'étudiant attardé de 43 ans et ses jeunes amis étudiants font à Montmartre, le voeu de pauvreté, de chasteté et d'obéissance et fonde ainsi la "Compagnie de Jésus". Douze ans plus tard, ils feront profession solennelle à Rome "pour la plus grande gloire de Dieu." A Paris, existe encore le collège Montaigu où il logeait, actuellement collège Sainte Barbe. Rue Valette - 75005. La chapelle des voeux est actuellement désaffectée. 9, rue Yvonne Le Tac. 75018.
Il faisait partie des saints patrons des JMJ de Madrid.
Mémoire de saint Ignace de Loyola, prêtre. né à Guipuzcoa, au pays basque espagnol, il vécut d'abord à la cour de Castille et à l'armée. Après une grave blessure, il se tourna vers Dieu, alla à Paris faire des études de théologie, s'adjoignit ses premiers compagnons, qu'il établit ensuite à Rome pour former la Compagnie de Jésus. Là, il exerça, jusqu'à sa mort en 1556, un ministère fructueux par ses écrits, en particulier ses Exercices spirituels, et par la formation de ses disciples, pour la plus grande gloire de Dieu.
L'homme est créé pour louer, respecter et servir Dieu notre Seigneur et par là sauver son âme. Les autres choses, sur la face de la terre, sont créées pour l'homme, pour l'aider à poursuivre la fin pour laquelle il est créé. Il s'ensuit que l'homme doit en user dans la mesure où elles lui sont une aide pour sa fin et s'en dégager dans la mesure où elles lui sont un obstacle.
Saint Ignace de Loyola - Exercices spirituels
SOURCE : https://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/1596/Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola.html
Statue d'Ignace de Loyola dans le jardin de l'Institut biblique pontifical (Jérusalem)
Saint Ignace de Loyola
Fondateur de la Compagnie de Jésus
Saint Ignace naquit au château de Loyola, en Espagne. Il fut d'abord page du roi Ferdinand V; puis il embrassa la carrière des armes. Il ne le céda en courage à personne, mais négligea complètement de vivre en chrétien, dirigé uniquement par l'orgueil et l'amour des plaisirs. De ce chevalier mondain, Dieu allait faire l'un des premiers chevaliers chrétiens de tous les âges.
Au siège de Pampelune, un boulet de canon brisa la jambe droite du jeune officier, qui en peu de jours fut réduit à l'extrémité et reçut les derniers sacrements. Il s'endormit ensuite et crut voir en songe saint Pierre, qui lui rendait la santé en touchant sa blessure. A son réveil, il se trouva hors de danger, quoique perclus de sa jambe.
Pour se distraire, il demanda des livres; on lui apporta la Vie de Jésus-Christ et la Vie des Saints. Il les lut d'abord sans attention, puis avec une émotion profonde. Il se livra en lui un violent combat; mais enfin la grâce l'emporta, et comme des hommes de cette valeur ne font rien à demi, il devint, dans sa résolution, un grand Saint dès ce même jour. Il commença à traiter son corps avec la plus grande rigueur; il se levait toutes les nuits pour pleurer ses péchés. Une nuit, il se consacra à Jésus-Christ par l'entremise de la Sainte Vierge, refuge des pécheurs, et Lui jura une fidélité inviolable. Une autre nuit, Marie lui apparut environnée de lumière, tenant en Ses bras l'Enfant Jésus.
Peu après, Ignace fit une confession générale et se retira à Manrèze, pour s'y livrer à des austérités qui n'ont guère d'exemple que dans la vie des plus célèbres anachorètes: vivant d'aumônes, jeûnant au pain et à l'eau, portant le cilice, il demeurait tous les jours six ou sept heures à genoux en oraison. Le démon fit en vain des efforts étonnants pour le décourager. C'est dans cette solitude qu'il composa ses Exercices spirituels, l'un des livres les plus sublimes qui aient été écrits par la main des hommes.
Passons sous silence son pèlerinage en Terre Sainte et différents faits merveilleux de sa vie, pour rappeler celui qui en est de beaucoup le plus important, la fondation de la Compagnie de Jésus (1534), que l'on pourrait appeler la chevalerie du Christ et le boulevard de la chrétienté. Cette fondation est assurément l'une des plus grandes gloires de l'église catholique; sciences profanes et sciences sacrées, enseignement, apostolat, rien ne devait être étranger à la Compagnie d'Ignace.
Les vertus du fondateur égalaient ses grandes oeuvres; elles avaient toutes pour inspiratrice cette devise digne de lui: Ad majorem Dei gloriam! "À la plus grande gloire de Dieu!"
Abbé L. Jaud,Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.
Johann Christoph Handke. Approbation des statuts de la Société de Jésus : Ignace de Loyola reçoit la bulle Regimini militantis Ecclesiae des mains du pape Paul III.,
1743. Fresque. glise de Notre-Dame des Neiges à Olomouc
DISCOURS DU PAPE BENOÎT XVI
AUX PÈRES ET FRÈRES DE LA COMPAGNIE DE JÉSUS
AUX PÈRES ET FRÈRES DE LA COMPAGNIE DE JÉSUS
Samedi 22 avril 2006
Chers pères et frères de la Compagnie de Jésus,
C'est avec une grande joie que je vous rencontre dans cette Basilique historique de Saint-Pierre, au terme de la Messe célébrée pour vous par le Cardinal Angelo Sodano, mon Secrétaire d'Etat, à l'occasion des diverses célébrations jubilaires de la Famille ignatienne. J'adresse à tous un salut cordial. Je salue en premier lieu le Préposé général, le Père Peter Hans Kolvenbach, et je le remercie des paroles cordiales à travers lesquelles il a manifesté vos sentiments communs. Je salue Messieurs les Cardinaux, ainsi que les Evêques et les prêtres et tous ceux qui ont voulu participer à la manifestation d'aujourd'hui. Avec les Pères et les frères, je salue également les amis de la Compagnie de Jésus ici présents, et parmi eux, les nombreux religieux et religieuses, les membres des Communautés de Vie chrétienne et de l'Apostolat de la Prière, les élèves et anciens élèves, avec leurs familles de Rome, d'Italie et de Stonyhurst en Angleterre, les professeurs et les étudiants des Institutions académiques, ainsi que les nombreux collaborateurs et collaboratrices. Votre visite d'aujourd'hui m'offre l'opportunité de rendre grâce avec vous au Seigneur pour avoir accordé à votre Compagnie le don d'hommes d'une extraordinaire sainteté et d'un zèle apostolique exceptionnel, tels que saint Ignace de Loyola, saint François-Xavier et le bienheureux Pierre Favre. Ils sont pour vous des pères et des fondateurs: il est donc juste qu'en ce centenaire, vous les commémoriez avec gratitude et que vous les considériez comme des guides lumineux et sûrs sur votre chemin spirituel et dans votre activité apostolique.
Saint Ignace de Loyola fut avant tout un homme de Dieu, qui réserva dans sa vie la première place à Dieu, à sa gloire suprême et à son plus grand service; ce fut un homme de profonde prière, qui avait pour centre et sommet la Célébration eucharistique quotidienne. De cette façon, il a laissé à ses fidèles un précieux héritage spirituel, qui ne doit pas être perdu ni oublié. Précisément parce qu'il était un homme de Dieu, saint Ignace fut un serviteur fidèle de l'Eglise, dans laquelle il voyait et vénérait l'épouse du Seigneur et la mère des chrétiens. Et du désir de servir l'Eglise de la façon la plus utile et efficace est né le voeu d'obéissance spéciale au Pape, qu'il qualifia lui-même de "notre principe et principal fondement" (MI, Série III, I, p. 162). Que ce caractère ecclésial, si spécifique de la Compagnie de Jésus, continue d'être présent dans vos personnes et dans votre activité apostolique, chers Jésuites, afin que vous puissiez répondre fidèlement aux nécessités urgentes et actuelles de l'Eglise. Parmi celles-ci, il me semble important de signaler l'engagement culturel dans les domaines de la théologie et de la philosophie, milieux traditionnels de présence apostolique de la Compagnie de Jésus, ainsi que le dialogue avec la culture moderne qui, si elle vante, d'une part, de merveilleux progrès dans le domaine scientifique, reste toutefois fortement marquée par le scientisme positiviste et matérialiste. Certes, l'effort de promouvoir à travers une collaboration cordiale avec les autres réalités ecclésiales une culture qui s'inspire des valeurs de l'Evangile, exige une intense préparation spirituelle et culturelle. C'est précisément pour cela que saint Ignace voulut que les jeunes jésuites fussent formés pendant de longues années à la vie spirituelle et aux études. Il est bon que cette tradition soit maintenue et renforcée, étant donné également la complexité et l'étendue croissantes de la culture moderne. Une autre grande préoccupation pour lui fut l'éducation chrétienne et la formation culturelle des jeunes: d'où l'impulsion qu'il donna à l'institution des "collèges", qui, après sa mort, se diffusèrent en Europe et dans le monde. Chers Jésuites, continuez cet apostolat important en conservant authentique l'esprit de votre fondateur.
En parlant de saint Ignace, je ne peux manquer de rappeler saint François-Xavier, dont a été célébré le 7 avril dernier le V centenaire de la naissance: non seulement leur histoire s'est croisée pendant de nombreuses années à Paris et à Rome, mais un désir unique - et on pourrait dire, une passion unique - les a poussés et soutenus dans leurs vies humaines, bien qu'elles fussent différentes: la passion de rendre à Dieu-Trinité une gloire toujours plus grande et de travailler pour l'annonce de l'Evangile du Christ aux peuples qui l'ignoraient. Saint François-Xavier, que mon prédécesseur de vénérée mémoire Pie XI a proclamé "Patron des Missions catholiques", ressentit comme sa mission d'"ouvrir de nouvelles voies" à l'Evangile "dans l'immense continent asiatique". Son apostolat en Orient dura à peine dix ans, mais sa fécondité s'est révélée admirable au cours des quatre siècles et demi de la vie de la Compagnie de Jésus, étant donné que son exemple a suscité parmi les jeunes jésuites de très nombreuses vocations missionnaires, et qu'il demeure encore un appel à poursuivre l'action missionnaire dans les grands pays du continent asiatique.
Si saint François-Xavier oeuvra dans les pays d'Orient, son confrère et ami depuis les années parisiennes, le bienheureux Pierre Favre, savoyard, né le 13 avril 1506, oeuvra dans les pays européens, où ses frères chrétiens aspiraient à une véritable réforme de l'Eglise. Homme modeste, sensible, à la vie intérieure profonde, et doté du don de nouer des relations d'amitié avec des personnes de tout genre, attirant de cette façon de nombreux jeunes à la Compagnie, le bienheureux Favre passa sa brève existence dans divers pays européens, en particulier en Allemagne, où, sur ordre de Paul III, il participa, dans les diètes de Worms, de Ratisbonne et de Spire, aux entretiens avec les chefs de la Réforme. Il eut ainsi l'occasion de pratiquer de façon exceptionnelle le voeu d'obéissance particulière au Pape "en ce qui concerne les missions", devenant pour tous les jésuites à venir un modèle à suivre.
Chers Pères et frères de la Compagnie, aujourd'hui, vous contemplez avec une dévotion particulière la bienheureuse Vierge Marie, en rappelant que le 22 avril 1541, Ignace et ses premiers compagnons prononcèrent des voeux solennels devant l'image de Marie dans la Basilique Saint-Paul-hors-les-Murs. Que Marie continue à veiller sur la Compagnie de Jésus, afin que chacun de ses membres porte dans sa personne l'"image" du Christ crucifié pour participer à sa résurrection. Je vous assure pour cela de mon souvenir dans la prière, tandis que je donne volontiers à chacun de vous ici présent et à toute votre famille spirituelle, ma Bénédiction, que j'étends également à toutes les autres personnes religieuses et consacrées qui ont participé à cette audience.
© Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/fr/speeches/2006/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060422_gesuiti.html
Leçons des Matines avant 1960.
Au deuxième nocturne.
Quatrième leçon. Ignace de noble famille espagnole, et né à Loyola au pays des Cantabres, vécut d’abord à la cour du roi catholique, d’où il passa au service militaire. Ayant été grièvement blessé au siège de Pampelune, la lecture de livres pieux, qui lui tombèrent sous la main, l’enflamma d’un vif désir de marcher sur les traces de Jésus-Christ. Parti pour Mont-Serrat, il suspendit ses armes devant l’autel de la bienheureuse Vierge, et consacrant la nuit à veiller, fit ses débuts dans la milice sacrée. Retiré ensuite à Manrèse, couvert d’un sac qui remplaçait les riches habits qu’il avait donnés à un pauvre, il y demeura une année, mendiant le pain et l’eau dont il se nourrissait, jeûnant tous les jours excepté le dimanche, domptant sa chair au moyen d’une rude chaîne et d’un cilice, couchant sur la dure, et se flagellant jusqu’au sang avec des disciplines de fer. C’est alors que Dieu le favorisa de si grandes lumières, que plus tard il avait coutume de dire : « Quand même les saintes Écritures n’existeraient pas, je serais néanmoins prêt à mourir pour la foi, rien qu’en raison des choses que Dieu m’a dévoilées à Manrèse. » C’est alors également que cet homme, tout à fait ignorant dans les lettres, composa le livre des Exercices, livre admirable qui se recommande de l’approbation du Siège apostolique et du bien qu’en retirent les âmes.
Cinquième leçon. Afin de se rendre plus capable de travailler au salut des âmes, Ignace résolut de s’assurer le secours des lettres, et se mêla aux enfants pour commencer l’étude de la grammaire. Cependant il ne négligeait rien par rapport au salut d’autrui, et on ne saurait dire combien de fatigues et d’affronts il eut à subir en tous lieux, souffrant les plus dures épreuves, la prison et les coups, au point presque d’en mourir, ce qui ne l’empêchait pas d’en souhaiter bien davantage pour la gloire de son Maître. S’étant adjoint neuf compagnons de nations diverses, appartenant à l’Université de Paris, tous maîtres es arts et pourvus de leurs grades en théologie, il jeta les premiers fondements de son Ordre à Paris, sur le mont des Martyrs. L’ayant établi ensuite à Rome, ajoutant aux trois vœux ordinaires un quatrième vœu, relatif aux missions, il le mit sous l’étroite dépendance du Saint-Siège. Paul III d’abord l’admit et le confirma ; bientôt après, d’autres Pontifes et le concile de Trente l’approuvèrent. Ayant envoyé saint François Xavier prêcher l’Évangile aux Indes, et disséminé d’autres missionnaires dans les diverses parties du monde pour propager la religion, Ignace déclara lui-même la guerre à la superstition païenne et à l’hérésie. Cette lutte se continua avec un tel succès que, du sentiment universel appuyé sur le témoignage du souverain Pontife, il était évident que Dieu avait opposé Ignace et son institut à Luther et aux hérétiques d’alors, comme il avait suscité d’autres saints personnages à d’autres époques.
Sixième leçon. Ce qu’Ignace eut surtout à cœur, ce fut le renouvellement de la piété chez les catholiques. La beauté des temples, l’enseignement du catéchisme, la fréquentation des assemblées saintes et des sacrements durent beaucoup à son action. Il ouvrit partout des collèges pour former la jeunesse dans les lettres et la piété ; à Rome, il fonda le collège Germanique, des refuges pour les femmes perdues et les jeunes filles exposées à se perdre, des maisons pour recueillir tant les orphelins que les catéchumènes des deux sexes ; il s’appliquait encore avec un zèle infatigable à d’autres bonnes œuvres, afin de gagner des âmes à Dieu. Plus d’une fois on l’a entendu dire : « Si le choix m’était donné, j’aimerais mieux vivre incertain de la béatitude, tout en servant Dieu et en travaillant au salut du prochain, que de mourir immédiatement avec l’assurance de la gloire céleste. » Il exerça sur les démons un empire extraordinaire. Saint Philippe de Néri et plusieurs autres ont vu son visage tout radieux d’une lumière surnaturelle. Enfin, après avoir toujours eu sur les lèvres la plus grande gloire de Dieu, et l’avoir aussi cherchée en toutes choses, il quitta la terre dans sa soixante-cinquième année, pour aller s’unir au Seigneur. Ses grands mérites et ses miracles l’ayant rendu illustre dans l’Église, Grégoire XV ajouta son nom au calendrier des Saints, et Pie XI, accédant aux désirs des saints évêques, le déclara et l’établit céleste protecteur de tous ceux qui suivent les retraites dites exercices spirituels.
Au troisième nocturne. 
Lecture du saint Évangile selon saint Luc. Cap. 10, 1-9.
En ce temps-là : Le Seigneur désigna encore soixante-douze autres disciples, et les envoya deux à deux devant lui dans toutes les villes et tous les lieux où lui-même devait venir. Et le reste.
Homélie de saint Grégoire, Pape. Homilía 17 in Evangelia
Septième leçon. Notre Seigneur et Sauveur nous instruit, mes bien-aimés frères, tantôt par ses paroles, et tantôt par ses œuvres. Ses œuvres elles-mêmes sont des préceptes, et quand il agit, même sans rien dire, il nous apprend ce que nous avons à faire. Voilà donc que le Seigneur envoie ses disciples prêcher ; il les envoie deux à deux, parce qu’il y a deux préceptes de la charité : l’amour de Dieu et l’amour du prochain, et qu’il faut être au moins deux pour qu’il y ait lieu de pratiquer la charité. Car, à proprement parler, on n’exerce pas la chanté envers soi-même ; mais l’amour, pour devenir charité, doit avoir pour objet une autre personne.
Huitième leçon. Voilà donc que le Seigneur envoie ses disciples deux à deux pour prêcher ; il nous fait ainsi tacitement comprendre que celui qui n’a point de charité envers le prochain ne doit en aucune manière se charger du ministère de la prédication. C’est avec raison que le Seigneur dit qu’il a envoyé ses disciples devant lui, dans toutes les villes et tous les lieux où il devait venir lui-même. Le Seigneur suit ceux qui l’annoncent. La prédication a lieu d’abord ; et le Seigneur vient établir sa demeure dans nos âmes, quand les paroles de ceux qui nous exhortent l’ont devancé, et qu’ainsi la vérité a été reçue par notre esprit.
Neuvième leçon. Voilà pourquoi Isaïe a dit aux mêmes prédicateurs : « Préparez la voie du Seigneur ; rendez droits les sentiers de notre Dieu » . A son tour le Psalmiste dit aux enfants de Dieu : « Faites un chemin à celui qui monte au-dessus du couchant » . Le Seigneur est en effet monté au-dessus du couchant ; car plus il s’est abaissé dans sa passion, plus il a manifesté sa gloire en sa résurrection. Il est vraiment monté au-dessus du couchant : car, en ressuscitant, il a foulé aux pieds la mort qu’il avait endurée . Nous préparons donc le chemin à Celui qui est monté au-dessus du couchant quand nous vous prêchons sa gloire, afin que lui-même, venant ensuite, éclaire vos âmes par sa présence et son amour.
 L’évangile de la Messe reprenant celui des Messes des Évangélistes, les lectures du 3ème nocturne sont celles de ce Commun.
 Is. 40, 3.
 Ps 67, 5.
 La passion du Christ peut être comparée au couchant parce que la gloire de cet astre divin y a comme disparu et la mort du Sauveur également puisqu’elle l’a couché inanimé dans le tombeau.
Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique
Bien que le cycle du Temps après la Pentecôte nous ait maintes fois déjà manifesté la sollicitude avec laquelle l’Esprit divin préside à la défense de l’Église, l’enseignement resplendit aujourd’hui d’une manière nouvelle. Au XVIe siècle, un assaut formidable était livré à la cité sainte. Satan avait choisi pour chef de l’attaque un homme tombé comme lui des hauteurs du ciel. Luther, sollicité dans ses jeunes années par les grâces de choix qui font les parfaits, n’avait point su, dans un jour d’égarement, résister à l’esprit de révolte. Comme Lucifer, qui prétendit égaler Dieu, lui se posa en face du vicaire du Très-Haut sur la montagne du Testament  ; bientôt, roulant aussi d’abîme en abîme, il entraînait de même à sa suite la troisième partie des étoiles du ciel de la sainte Église . Loi mystérieuse et terrible, que celle qui si souvent laisse à l’homme ou à l’ange déchu, dans les sphères du mal, la principauté qui devait s’exercer par eux pour le bien et l’amour ! Mais l’éternelle Sagesse n’est cependant jamais frustrée dans la divine loyauté de ce jeu sublime commencé avec le monde, et qui régit toujours les temps  ; c’est alors qu’à l’encontre de la liberté pervertie de l’ange ou de l’homme, elle met en œuvre cette autre loi de substitution miséricordieuse dont Michel bénéficia le premier.
La vocation d’Ignace à la sainteté suit pas à pas dans ses développements la défection luthérienne. Au printemps de l’année 1521, Luther, jetant son défi à toutes les puissances, venait à peine de quitter Worms et de gagner la Wartbourg , qu’Ignace, à Pampelune, était frappé du coup qui devait le retirer du monde et bientôt le conduire à Manrèse. Valeureux comme ses nobles ancêtres, il s’était senti pénétrer dès ses premiers ans de l’ardeur belliqueuse qu’on les vit montrer sur les champs de bataille de la terre des Espagnes ; mais la campagne contre le Maure a pris fin dans les jours mêmes de sa naissance  ; se pourrait-il qu’il n’eût, pour satisfaire ses chevaleresques instincts, que les querelles mesquines où la politique des rois va toujours plus s’abaisser ? Le seul vrai Roi resté digne de sa grande âme, se révèle à lui dans l’épreuve qui vient d’arrêter ses projets mondains ; une milice nouvelle s’offre, à son ambition ; une autre croisade commence ; et l’an 1522 voit, des monts de Catalogne à ceux de Thuringe, se développer la divine stratégie dont les Anges seuls ont encore le secret.
Admirable campagne, où l’on dirait que le ciel se contente d’observer l’enfer, lui laissant prendre les devants, ne se gardant que le droit de faire surabonder la grâce là où l’iniquité prétend abonder . De même que, l’année d’auparavant, le premier appel d’Ignace avait suivi de trois semaines la rébellion consommée de Luther : à trois semaines également de distance, voici qu’en celle-ci l’enfer et le ciel produisent leurs élus sous l’armure différente qui convient aux deux camps dont ils seront chefs. Dix mois de manifestations étranges et d’ascèse diabolique ont préparé le lieutenant de Satan dans la retraite forcée qu’il nomme sa Pathmos ; et le 5 mars, en rupture de ban, le transfuge du sacerdoce et du cloître quitte la Wartbourg transformé sous la cuirasse et le casque en chevalier de fausse marque. Le 25 du même mois, dans la glorieuse nuit où le Verbe prit chair, le brillant soldat des armées du royaume catholique, le descendant des Ognès et des Loyola, vêtu d’un sac comme de l’insigne de pauvreté qui révèle ses projets nouveaux, passe en prières au Mont-Serrat sa veille des armes ; il suspend à l’autel de Marie sa vaillante épée, et de là s’en va préludant aux combats inconnus qui l’attendent dans une lutte sans merci contre lui-même.
Au drapeau du libre examen, qui partout déjà fait flotter ses plis orgueilleux, il oppose sur le sien pour unique devise : À la plus grande gloire de Dieu ! Bientôt Paris, où Calvin recrute dans le secret les futurs huguenots, le voit enrôler, pour le compte du Dieu des armées, la compagnie d’avant-poste qui doit dans sa pensée couvrir l’armée chrétienne en éclairant sa marche, porter et recevoir les premiers coups. L’Angleterre vient-elle, aux premiers mois de 1534, d’imiter dans leur défection l’Allemagne et les pays du Nord, que, le 15 août de cette année, les premiers soldats d’Ignace scellent à Montmartre avec lui l’engagement définitif qu’ils doivent renouveler solennellement plus tard à Saint-Paul-hors-les-Murs. Car c’est à Rome qu’est fixé le point de ralliement de la petite troupe, qui s’accroîtra bientôt merveilleusement, mais dont la profession spéciale sera d’être toujours prête à se porter, au moindre signe, sur tous les points où le Chef suprême de l’Église militante jugera bon d’utiliser son zèle pour la défense de la foi ou sa propagation, pour le progrès des âmes dans la doctrine et la vie chrétienne .
Une bouche illustre a dit en nos temps  que « ce qui frappe de prime abord dans l’histoire de la société de Jésus, c’est que pour elle l’âge mûr est contemporain de la première formation. Qui connaît les premiers auteurs de la compagnie, connaît la compagnie entière dans son esprit, dans son but, dans ses entreprises, dans ses procédés, dans ses méthodes. Quelle génération que celle qui préside à ses origines ! Quelle union de science et d’activité, de vie intérieure et de vie militante ! On peut dire que ce sont des hommes universels, des hommes de race gigantesque, en comparaison desquels nous ne sommes que des insectes : de genere giganteo, quibus comparati quasi locustae videbamur  ».
Combien plus touchante n’en apparaît pas la simplicité si pleine de charmes de ces premiers Pères de la compagnie, faisant la route qui les sépare de Rome à pied et jeûnant, épuisés, mais le cœur débordant d’allégresse et chantant à demi-voix les psaumes de David  ! Quand il fallut, pour répondre aux nécessités de l’heure présente, abandonner dans le nouvel institut les grandes traditions de la prière publique, il en coûta à plusieurs de ces âmes ; ce ne fut pas sans lutte que Marie, sur ce point, dut céder à Marthe : tant de siècles durant, la solennelle célébration des divins Offices avait paru l’indispensable tâche de toute famille religieuse, dont elle formait la dette sociale première, comme elle était l’aliment premier de la sainteté individuelle de ses membres !
Mais l’arrivée de temps nouveaux promenant partout la déchéance et la ruine, appelait une exception aussi insolite alors que douloureuse pour la vaillante compagnie qui dévouait son existence à l’instabilité d’alertes sans fin et de sorties perpétuelles sur les terres ennemies. Ignace le comprit ; et il sacrifia au but particulier qui s’imposait à lui l’attrait personnel qu’il ressentit jusqu’à la fin pour le chant sacré, dont les moindres notes parvenant à son oreille faisaient couler de ses yeux des larmes d’extase . Après sa mort, l’Église, qui jusque-là n’avait point connu d’intérêt primant la splendeur à donner au culte de l’Époux, voulut revenir sur une dérogation qui portait une atteinte si profonde aux instincts les plus chers de son cœur d’Épouse ; on vit Paul IV la révoquer absolument ; mais saint Pie V eut beau lui-même longtemps lutter contre elle, il dut enfin la subir.
Avec les derniers siècles et leurs embûches, l’heure des milices spéciales organisées en camps volants avait sonné pour l’Église. Mais autant il devenait plus difficile chaque jour d’exiger de ces troupes méritantes, absorbées dans de continuels combats au dehors, les habitudes de ceux que protégeaient la Cité sainte et ses anciennes tours de défense : autant Ignace répudiait le contre-sens étrange qui eût voulu réformer les mœurs du peuple chrétien d’après la manière de vivre entraînée par le service de reconnaissances et de grand’garde, auquel il se sacrifiait pour tous. La troisième des dix-huit règles qu’il pose, comme couronnement des EXERCICES SPIRITUELS, pour avoir en nous les vrais sentiments de l’Église orthodoxe, est de recommander aux fidèles les chants de l’Église, les psaumes, et les différentes Heures canoniales au temps marqué pour chacune. Et, en tête de ce livre qui est bien le trésor de la Compagnie de Jésus, établissant les conditions qui permettront de retirer le plus grand fruit possible des mêmes Exercices, il détermine, dans son annotation vingtième, que celui qui le peut devra choisir, pour le temps de leur durée, une habitation d’où il lui soit facile de se rendre aux Offices de Matines  et des Vêpres ainsi qu’au divin Sacrifice. Que fait du reste en cela notre Saint, sinon conseiller pour la pratique des Exercices le même esprit dans lequel ils furent composés, en cette retraite bénie de Manrèse où l’assistance quotidienne à la Messe solennelle et aux Offices du soir fut pour lui la source de délices du ciel  ?
La victoire qui triomphe du monde est notre foi . Une fois de plus vous l’avez montré, ô vous qui fûtes le grand triomphateur du siècle où le Fils de Dieu vous choisit pour relever son drapeau humilié devant l’étendard de Babel. Contre les bataillons sans cesse grossissant des révoltés, vous fûtes longtemps presque seul, laissant au Dieu des armées le soin de choisir son heure pour vous mettre aux prises avec les cohortes de Satan, comme il l’avait choisie pour vous retirer de la milice des hommes. Le monde, instruit alors de vos desseins, n’y eût vu qu’un objet de risée ; et toutefois nul certes aujourd’hui ne saurait le nier : ce fut un moment solennel pour l’histoire du monde, que celui où, pareil dans votre confiance aux plus illustres capitaines concentrant leurs armées, vous donniez ordre à vos neuf compagnons de gagner trois par trois la Ville sainte. Quels résultats durant les quinze années où cette troupe d’élite, que recrutait l’Esprit-Saint, vous eut à sa tête comme premier Général ! L’hérésie refoulée d’Italie, confondue à Trente, enrayée partout, immobilisée jusqu’en son foyer même ; d’immenses conquêtes sur des terres nouvelles, réparant les pertes subies dans notre Occident ; Sion elle-même rajeunissant sa beauté, relevée dans son peuple et ses pasteurs, assurée pour ses fils d’une éducation répondant à leurs célestes destinées : sur toute la ligne enfin où il avait imprudemment crié victoire, Satan rugissant, dompté à nouveau par ce nom de Jésus qui fait fléchir tout genou dans le ciel, sur la terre et dans les enfers  ! Quelle gloire pour vous, ô Ignace, eût jamais égalé celle-là dans les armées des rois de la terre ?
Du trône que vous avez conquis par tant de hauts faits, veillez sur ces fruits de vos œuvres, et montrez-vous toujours le soldat de Dieu. Au travers des contradictions qui ne leur manquèrent jamais, soutenez vos fils au poste d’honneur et de vaillance qui fait d’eux les sentinelles avancées de l’Église. Qu’ils soient fidèles à l’esprit de leur glorieux Père, « ayant sans cesse devant les yeux : premièrement Dieu ; ensuite, comme une voie qui conduit à lui, la forme de leur institut, consacrant tout ce qu’ils ont de forces à atteindre ce but que Dieu leur marque ; chacun pourtant suivant la mesure de la grâce qu’il a reçue de l’Esprit-Saint et le degré propre de sa vocation  ». Enfin, ô chef d’une si noble descendance, étendez votre amour à toutes les familles religieuses, dont le sort en face de .la persécution est devenu si étroitement solidaire aujourd’hui de celui de la vôtre ; bénissez spécialement l’Ordre monastique qui protégea de ses antiques rameaux vos premiers pas dans la vie parfaite, et la naissance de l’illustre Compagnie qui sera votre couronne immortelle dans les cieux. Ayez pitié de la France, de ce Paris dont l’université vous fournit les assises de l’inébranlable édifice élevé par vous à la gloire du Très-Haut. Que tout chrétien apprenne de vous à militer pour le Seigneur, à ne jamais renier son drapeau ; que tout homme, sous votre conduite, revienne à Dieu son principe et sa fin.
 Isai. XIV, 13.
 Apoc. XII, 4.
 Prov. VIII, 30, 31.
 La diète de Worms, où eut lieu la rupture officielle de l’hérésiarque en présence des divers ordres de l’empire, vit cette rupture se consommer dans les derniers jours d’avril, et ce fut le 20 mai qu’Ignace reçut la blessure dont sa conversion fut la suite.
 Rom. V, 20.
 Litt. Pauli III, Regimini militantis Ecclesiae ; JULII III Exposcit debitum ; etc.
 Cardinal Pie, Homélie prononcée dans les fêtes de la béatification du B. Pierre Le Fèvre.
 Num. XIII, 34 : De la race des géants, auprès desquels nous paraissions que comme des sauterelles.
 P. Ribadeneira, Vita Ignatii Loiolae Lib. II, cap. VII.
 J. Rhous, in Variis virtutum historiis, Lib. III, cap. II.
 Nous suivons ici l’édition latine authentique publiée sous les yeux de saint Ignace après l’approbation de Paul III, et réimprimée depuis par l’autorité des Congrégations générales. Une traduction nouvelle, faite en ce siècle sur le texte espagnol, ne parle pas ici des Matines ; mais elle insiste sur l’assistance de tous les jours, autant que faire se peut, à la Messe et aux Vêpres.
 Acta a L. Consalvo S. J. ex ore Sancti excepta.
 I Johan. V, 4.
 Philip. II, 10.
 Litt. apost. Primae Instituti approbationis, Pauli III, Regimini militantis.
Bhx cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum
Parler rapidement des mérites d’Ignace envers le catholicisme est impossible. Son nom en effet résume à lui seul tout l’immense travail entrepris par l’Église au XVIe siècle, pour opposer à la réforme luthérienne une véritable réforme catholique, si bien que la liturgie elle-même affirme, à la louange d’Ignace, que la Providence l’envoya pour l’opposer à Luther.
Maintenant encore, le nom de Loyola et de la Compagnie fondée par lui sont synonymes de vie et d’action catholique au sens le plus élevé du mot ; en sorte que les adversaires, tout en affectant de la tolérance envers d’autres congrégations religieuses, nourrissent une haine irréductible contre l’institut d’Ignace, où ils reconnaissent à bon droit l’armée la plus aguerrie et la plus invulnérable que la Providence ait placée sous le commandement immédiat du Vicaire de Jésus-Christ. On peut dire de la Compagnie de Jésus ce que l’Évangile dit du Divin Sauveur ; persécutée dès sa naissance, supprimée puis rétablie, objet d’une haine infinie pour les uns et de confiance illimitée pour les autres, pertransiit benefaciendo et sanando . Ainsi en était-il il y a trois siècles, ainsi en est-il aujourd’hui, ainsi en sera-t-il toujours dans l’avenir .
Le corps de saint Ignace est conservé à Rome dans le magnifique temple farnésien de la première maison professe, près du titulus Marci. Toutefois dans la Ville éternelle beaucoup d’autres sanctuaires rappellent le zèle du Saint, à commencer par la Basilique de Saint-Paul, où lui et ses premiers compagnons émirent la solennelle profession religieuse. Le souvenir de saint Ignace est aussi gardé dans l’église de Saint-Apollinaire, près de laquelle il fonda le Collège germanique ; dans celle de Sainte-Marthe, où il recueillit les pauvres femmes coupables qui voulaient faire pénitence ; dans celle de Sainte-Catherine des funari, où il institua un pensionnat pour les jeunes filles pauvres ; et enfin au Collège romain, séminaire de toutes les nations, comme l’appela Grégoire XIII.
L’antienne d’introït pour le Fondateur de la Compagnie de Jésus ne peut être que celle du Ier janvier, où l’Apôtre exalte la puissance du Nom très saint du Sauveur. Puis viennent — contrairement aux règles classiques de l’antiphonie romaine — non point le premier, mais les douzième et treizième versets du psaume 5 : « Qu’ils se glorifient en Vous, tous ceux qui aiment votre Nom, parce que vous bénissez le juste ».
Pour rémunérer Jésus des ignominies de la Passion, le Père éternel a conféré au glorieux Rédempteur un Nom qui est au-dessus de tout autre nom. Ceux qui ont part aux peines et à l’obéissance de Jésus participent aussi à la gloire de ce Nom dans lequel ils sont largement récompensés des pertes temporelles de leur fortune, de leur réputation et de leur vie elle-même, pertes que parfois ils subissent pour la cause de Dieu.
Prière. — « Dieu qui, pour propager la plus grande gloire de votre Nom, avez voulu fortifier par un nouveau soutien l’Église militante grâce au bienheureux Ignace, faites que, en l’imitant maintenant dans le combat, nous puissions avoir part un jour à sa couronne dans le ciel ». Le programme de saint Ignace, évoqué dans cette collecte : Ad majorem Dei gloriam, se rattache, dans la tradition de l’ascèse catholique, à celui qui fut donné jadis par le Patriarche du monachisme occidental à ses fils : Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus . Nous connaissons les relations de saint Ignace avec les Bénédictins du Mont-Serrat, où il se retira immédiatement après sa conversion ; avec les moines du Mont Cassin, où il demeura quelque temps dans la solitude, et avec les cénobites de Saint-Paul à Rome où il émit ses vœux et où il fut canoniquement élu premier préposé général de la nouvelle Compagnie. Il n’est pourtant pas possible de démontrer que la devise de saint Ignace découle de celles des moines bénédictins. Un même esprit, celui des saints, a employé, pour s’exprimer, des mots analogues ; et il en va de même au sujet des rapports existant entre le petit Livre des Exercices spirituels et l’Exercitatorium de l’abbé Garcia de Cisneros dont le Saint aurait eu connaissance, dit-on, au Mont-Serrat.
Dans la première lecture, l’Apôtre y rappelle sa prédication orthodoxe, les nombreuses persécutions dont il fut l’objet, et, en dernier lieu, ses chaînes. Aux yeux de ses adversaires, il passe quasi male operans, et on a même voulu l’enchaîner. C’est bien, observe saint Paul : le corps sera retenu par les menottes et par les chaînes, mais rien ne pourra lier la parole de Dieu qui, semblable à l’air et à la lumière, est destinée à se répandre dans le monde et à triompher.
La lecture évangélique pour la fête du père d’un si grand nombre d’apôtres et de missionnaires, auquel saint François Xavier n’écrivait, du Japon, qu’à genoux, ne peut être autre que celle du 3 décembre.
Sur les oblations. — « Qu’à nos oblations soient jointes les bienveillantes prières de saint Ignace ; afin que les Divins Mystères dans lesquels vous avez ouvert pour nous la source de toute sainteté, nous sanctifient nous aussi dans la Vérité qui est le Christ ». Cette prière semble se rapporter à l’un des aspects les plus importants de l’œuvre réformatrice de saint Ignace. Au XVIe siècle, en beaucoup d’endroits, le culte catholique languissait misérablement. En Italie, il ne s’agissait pas seulement de prêtres grossiers et ignorants qui parfois ne comprenaient pas même le canon de la messe, mais le peuple lui-même avait presque perdu l’habitude des sacrements, si bien que beaucoup d’églises étaient laissées dans la malpropreté et l’abandon. Ignace et ses compagnons commencèrent donc leur réforme liturgique surtout par la prédication et l’enseignement du catéchisme. Tandis qu’au moyen des Exercices spirituels ils cherchaient à élever le clergé à une conscience plus haute de sa dignité et de sa mission, ils ramenaient dans les églises la propreté, la dignité et la richesse. Attirés par ces formes extérieures, les fidèles se portèrent plus facilement à fréquenter la Table eucharistique et les cérémonies.
L’antienne pour la Communion est bien tirée de saint Luc (XII, 49), mais d’un autre chapitre que la péricope évangélique de ce jour. « Je suis venu apporter le feu sur la terre, et que désire-je davantage sinon qu’il s’allume ? » Le feu vit en se consumant ; ainsi la charité et le zèle pour Dieu s’éteignent si le sacrifice ne les alimente.
Après la Communion. — « Que l’Hostie de louange que nous venons d’offrir en vous rendant grâces, Seigneur, pour la fête de saint Ignace, nous vaille par son intercession l’heureux sort d’arriver à Vous louer dans l’éternité ». La divine Eucharistie s’appelle aussi sacrificium laudis, parce que Jésus voulut qu’elle fût un hymne perpétuel de louange et d’action de grâces à la bonté du Père. C’est pourquoi, à la dernière Cène, il l’institua durant le chant d’un hymne pascal d’action de grâces, — le grand hallel, — raison pour laquelle les Apôtres l’appelèrent Eucharistia, c’est-à-dire chant d’action de grâces.
 Act. 10, 38 : Il passa, faisant le bien et guérissant.
 No more comment.
 pour que Dieu soit glorifié en toute chose.
Dom Pius Parsch, Le guide dans l’année liturgique
Tout pour la plus grande gloire de Dieu.
La Compagnie de Jésus (ou Ordre des Jésuites) fut destinée par la Providence à être le rempart de la chrétienté contre les hérésies du XVIe siècle. Elle s’est illustrée dans tous les domaines qui intéressent la vie de l’Église, éducation de la jeunesse, ministère apostolique... La flamme ardente de son fondateur s’est propagée par le zèle de ses fils (Ignace signifie « homme plein de feu »). Le livre des Exercices de saint Ignace a été l’instrument d’innombrables conversions ; ce petit ouvrage que tous les siècles ne cesseront de relire a déjà suscité plus de saints, a-t-on pu dire, qu’il ne contient de lettres.
1. Saint Ignace. — Jour de mort : 31 juillet 1556. Tombeau : son corps repose à Rome dans l’église du Gesù, près de la première maison professe des Jésuites. Sa vie : Ignace naquit en 1491. Après avoir été page à la cour d’Espagne, il embrassa la carrière des armes. C’est pendant sa convalescence, à la suite d’une blessure reçue au siège de Pampelune, que se dessina la nouvelle orientation de sa vie. Guéri, il se rendit en pèlerinage à Montserrat, puis à Manrèze où il se soumit à de rudes pénitences et composa son livre des Exercices. Il entreprit ensuite ses études tardives (1528-35), réunit ses premiers compagnons, et, en 1534, dans la chapelle de Montmartre, à Paris, posa enfin les assises de son institut. C’est alors qu’il commença son œuvre de réforme dans toutes les branches de l’activité chrétienne. On l’entendait dire que, si le choix lui en était donné, il préférerait vivre incertain de la béatitude, tout en se dévouant au service de Dieu et au salut d’autrui, plutôt que de mourir avec l’assurance immédiate de la gloire éternelle. Saint Philippe Néri et d’autres le virent, souvent, le visage rayonnant d’un éclat céleste. Enfin, dans sa soixante-cinquième année, après avoir toujours eu sur les lèvres la plus grande gloire de Dieu et constamment agi pour elle, il alla rejoindre son Maître.
2. La messe (In nomine Jesu). — Les différents textes de cette messe rappellent très clairement la vie et les maximes du saint. L’Introït reproduit la grande devise de son institut : « Omnia ad majorem Dei gloriam. — Tout pour la plus grande gloire de Dieu ». A l’Épître, saint Ignace raconte ses labeurs évangéliques et nous exhorte à l’imiter. L’Évangile, récit de la mission des soixante-douze disciples, le range parmi les grands missionnaires qui parcoururent l’univers au nom du Sauveur. Le texte de la Communion est remarquablement frappant : « Je suis venu apporter le feu sur la terre, et que désiré-je, sinon qu’il s’allume ? » Ignem — Ignace ; il fut un vrai Prométhée qui transmit le feu divin à la terre. Et ce feu, où le recevons-nous de nouveau, lorsque notre cœur est froid ? Dans l’Eucharistie. La Secrète nous dit que Dieu « a placé la source de toute sainteté dans les mystères sacro-saints ».
3. Les manifestations de la dévotion dans le cours des siècles se ramènent à deux types que l’on peut appeler l’un, dévotion objective, et l’autre, subjective. La religion et la dévotion établissent un lien entre Dieu et sa créature. Selon que l’on insiste sur le côté humain ou le côté divin, la dévotion est subjective ou objective. On peut dire, d’une façon générale, que l’Orient aime plutôt la piété objective et plus passive, c’est-à-dire, qu’il se laisse conduire et porter par Dieu, le rôle de l’homme restant à l’arrière-plan. L’Occident est à la fois actif et subjectif. Il veut travailler avec sa volonté, il veut laisser la parole à l’homme, au service du Seigneur. Il faut que l’individu intervienne avec ses émotions. L’Église d’autrefois, pouvons-nous dire encore, aimait la piété objective, tandis qu’actuellement nos tendances vont de plus en plus au subjectivisme. Ignace de Loyola est un des porte-parole de cette piété mettant l’homme en valeur qui prévaut dans la vie intérieure de la plupart des chrétiens aujourd’hui. Assurément nous devons être reconnaissants à saint Ignace de nous montrer les énergies puissantes qui sommeillent en nous, de nous révéler des voies qui épurent et approfondissent notre vie intérieure. Reconnaissons pourtant que la piété liturgique suit d’autres sentiers ; elle insiste davantage sur l’élément divin, social, cultuel, créant ainsi un salutaire équilibre. L’objectif et le subjectif, la société et l’individu, l’activité et la passivité, la grâce et la volonté, tout cela réparti, équilibré et dosé comme il convient, constitue l’idéal vers lequel nous devons tendre. Saint Ignace le résume lui-même fort bien ainsi : « Dans toutes vos entreprises appuyez-vous sur Dieu, comme s’il devait, seul, tout accomplir sans vous ; et travaillez, néanmoins, avec autant de zèle que si tout le résultat dépendait uniquement de vous ».
SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/31-07-St-Ignace-de-Loyola
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE FATHERS AND BROTHERS OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS
TO THE FATHERS AND BROTHERS OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS
Saturday, 22 April 2006
Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Jesus,
I meet you with great joy in this historical Basilica of St Peter's after the Holy Mass celebrated for you by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, my Secretary of State, on the occasion of combined jubilees of the Ignatian Family. I address my cordial greeting to you all.
I greet in the first place the Superior General, Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, and thank him for his courteous words expressing your common sentiments to me. I greet the Cardinals with the Bishops and priests and all those who have desired to participate in this event.
Together with the Fathers and Brothers, I also greet the friends of the Society of Jesus present here, and among them, the many men and women religious, members of the Communities of Christian Life and of the Apostolate of Prayer, the students and alumnae with their families from Rome, from Italy and from Stonyhurst in England, the teachers and students of the academic institutions and the many collaborators.
Your visit today gives me the opportunity to thank the Lord with you for having granted your Society the gift of men of extraordinary holiness and exceptional apostolic zeal, such as St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier and Bl. Peter Faber. For you they are the Fathers and Founders: it is therefore appropriate that in this centenary year you commemorate them with gratitude and look to them as enlightened and reliable guides on your spiritual journey and in your apostolic activities.
St Ignatius of Loyola was first and foremost a man of God who in his life put God, his greatest glory and his greatest service, first. He was a profoundly prayerful man for whom the daily celebration of the Eucharist was the heart and crowning point of his day.
Thus, he left his followers a precious spiritual legacy that must not be lost or forgotten. Precisely because he was a man of God, St Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church, in which he saw and venerated the Bride of the Lord and the Mother of Christians. And the special vow of obedience to the Pope, which he himself describes as "our first and principal foundation" (MI, Series III, I., p. 162), was born from his desire to serve the Church in the most beneficial way possible.
This ecclesial characteristic, so specific to the Society of Jesus, lives on in you and in your apostolic activities, dear Jesuits, so that you may faithfully meet the urgent needs of the Church today.
Among these, it is important in my opinion to point out your cultural commitment in the areas of theology and philosophy in which the Society of Jesus has traditionally been present, as well as the dialogue with modern culture, which, if it boasts on the one hand of the marvellous progress in the scientific field, remains heavily marked by positivist and materialist scientism.
Naturally, the effort to promote a culture inspired by Gospel values in cordial collaboration with the other ecclesial realities demands an intense spiritual and cultural training. For this very reason, St Ignatius wanted young Jesuits to be formed for many years in spiritual life and in study. It is good that this tradition be maintained and reinforced, also given the growing complexity and vastness of modern culture.
Another of his great concerns was the Christian education and cultural formation of young people: hence, the impetus he gave to the foundation of "colleges", which after his death spread in Europe and throughout the world. Continue, dear Jesuits, this important apostolate, keeping the spirit of your Founder unchanged.
In speaking of St Ignatius, I cannot overlook the fact that the fifth centenary of St Francis Xavier's birth was celebrated last 7 April. Not only is their history interwoven through long years in Paris and Rome, but a single aspiration - one might say, a single passion - stirred and sustained them, even in their different human situations: the passion for working for the ever greater glory of God-the-Trinity and for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who did not know him.
St Francis Xavier, whom my Predecessor Pius XI, of venerable memory, proclaimed the "Patron of Catholic Missions", saw as his own mission "opening new ways of access" to the Gospel "in the immense Continent of Asia". His apostolate in the Orient lasted barely 10 years, but in the four and half centuries that the Society of Jesus has existed it has proven wonderfully fruitful, for his example inspired a multitude of missionary vocations among young Jesuits and he remains a reference point for the continuation of missionary activity in the great countries of the Asian Continent.
If St Francis Xavier worked in the countries of the Orient, his confrere and friend since the years in Paris, Bl. Peter Faber, a Savoiard who was born on 13 April 1506, worked in the European countries where the Christian faithful aspired to a true reform of the Church.
He was a modest, sensitive man with a profound inner life. He was endowed with the gift of making friends with people from every walk of life and consequently attracted many young men to the Society.
Bl. Faber spent his short life in various European countries, especially Germany, where, at the order of Paul III, he took part in the Diets of Worms, Ratisbon and Speyer and in conversations with the leaders of the Reformation. He consequently had an exceptional opportunity to practise the special vow of obedience to the Pope "regarding the missions" and became a model to follow for all future Jesuits.
Dear Fathers and Brothers of the Society, today you look with special devotion at the Blessed Virgin Mary, remembering that on 22 April 1541, St Ignatius and his first companions made their solemn vows before the image of Mary in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls.
May Mary continue to watch over the Society of Jesus so that every member may carry in his person the "image" of the Crucified Christ, in order to share in his Resurrection. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for this, as I willingly impart my Blessing to each of you present here and to your entire spiritual family, which I also extend to all the other Religious and consecrated persons who are present at this Audience.
© Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2006/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060422_gesuiti.html
St. Ignatius of Loyola, Confessor
His life was written by F. Lewis Gonzales or Gonzalvo, who was a long time the saint’s confessor, and died at Lisbon in 1575; and again by Ribadeneira, who had intimately conversed with the saint, and died at Madrid in 1611. It is elegantly compiled in Latin by Maffei, who died at Tivoli in 1603, in Italian by Bartoli, at Rome, about 1650; and in French by Bouhours, one of the ablest and most judicious of the modern French critics in polite literature, who died at Paris in 1704. Pinius the Bollandist gives the original lives, Julij, t. 7, p. 409, and adds the history of many miracles wrought by the intercession of this saint; also, Baillet
[Founder of the Society of Jesus.] THE CONVERSION of many barbarous nations, several heretofore unknown to us, both in the most remote eastern and western hemisphere; the education of youth in learning and piety, the instruction of the ignorant, the improvement of all the sciences, and the reformation of the manners of a great part of Christendom, is the wonderful fruit of the zeal with which this glorious saint devoted himself to labour in exalting the glory of God, and in spreading over the whole world that fire which Christ himself came to kindle on earth. St. Ignatius was born in 1491, in the castle of Loyola, in Guipuscoa, a part of Biscay, that reaches to the Pyrenean mountains. His father, Don Bertram, was lord of Ognez and Loyola, head of one of the most ancient and noble families of that country. His mother, Mary Saez de Balde, was not less illustrious by her extraction. They had three daughters and eight sons. The youngest of all these was Inigo or Ignatius; he was well shaped, and in his childhood gave proofs of a pregnant wit and discretion above his years; was affable and obliging, but of a warm or choleric disposition, and had an ardent passion for glory. He was bred in the court of Ferdinand V., in quality of page to the king, under the care and protection of Antony Manriquez, duke of Najara, grandee of Spain, who was his kinsman and patron; and who, perceiving his inclinations, led him to the army, took care to have him taught all the exercises proper to make him an accomplished officer. The love of glory and the example of his elder brothers who had signalized themselves in the wars of Naples, made him impatient till he entered the service. He behaved with great valour and conduct in the army, especially at the taking of Najara, a small town on the frontiers of Biscay; yet he generously declined taking any part of the booty in which he might have challenged the greater share. He hated gaming as an offspring of avarice, and a source of quarrels and other evils; was dexterous in the management of affairs, and had an excellent talent in making up differences among the soldiers. He was generous, even towards enemies, but addicted to gallantry, and full of the maxims of worldly honour, vanity, and pleasures. Though he had no tincture of learning, he made tolerable good verses in Spanish, having a natural genius for poetry. A poem which he composed in praise of St. Peter was much commended.
Charles V., who had succeeded King Ferdinand, was chosen emperor, and obliged to go into Germany. Francis I., king of France, a martial prince, having been his competitor for the empire, resented his disappointment, and became an implacable enemy to the emperor and the house of Austria. He declared war against Charles, with a view to recover Navarre, of which Ferdinand had lately dispossessed John of Albert, and which Charles still held, contrary to the treaty of Noyon, by which he was obliged to restore it in six months. Francis, therefore, in 1521, sent a great army into Spain, under the command of Andrew de Foix, younger brother of the famous Lautrec, who, passing the Pyreneans, laid siege to Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre. Ignatius had been left there by the viceroy, not to command, but to encourage the garrison. He did all that lay in his power to persuade them to defend the city, but in vain. However, when he saw them open the gates to the enemy, to save his own honour, he retired into the citadel with one only soldier who had the heart to follow him. The garrison of this fortress deliberated likewise whether they should surrender; but Ignatius encouraged them to stand their ground. The French attacked the place with great fury, and with their artillery made a wide breach in the wall, and attempted to take it by assault. Ignatius appeared upon the breach, at the head of the bravest part of the garrison, and, with his sword in his hand, endeavoured to drive back the enemy; but, in the heat of the combat, a shot from a cannon broke from the wall a bit of stone, which struck and bruised his left leg; and the ball itself in the rebound broke and shivered his right leg. The garrison seeing him fall, surrendered at discretion.
The French used their victory with moderation, and treated the prisoners well, especially Ignatius, in consideration of his quality and valour. They carried him to the general’s quarters, and soon after sent him, in a litter carried by two men, to the castle of Loyola, which was not far from Pampeluna. Being arrived there he felt great pain; for the bones had been ill set, as is often the case in the hurry after a battle. The surgeons therefore judged it necessary to break his leg again, which he suffered without any concern. But a violent fever followed the second setting, which was attended with dangerous symptoms, and reduced him to an extreme degree of weakness, so that the physicians declared that he could not live many days. He received the sacrament on the eve of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, and it was believed he could not hold out till the next morning. Nevertheless, God, who had great designs of mercy upon him, was pleased to restore him to his health in the following manner: Ignatius always had a singular devotion to St. Peter, and implored his intercession in his present distress with great confidence. In the night, he thought he saw in a dream that apostle touch him, and cure him. When he awoke he found himself out of danger; his pains left him, and his strength began to return, so that he ever after looked upon this recovery as miraculous; yet he still retained the spirit of the world. After the second setting of his leg, the end of a bone stuck out under his knee, which was a visible deformity. Though the surgeons told him the operation would be very painful, this protuberance he caused to be cut off, merely that his boot and stockings might sit handsomely; and he would neither be bound nor held, and scarcely ever changed countenance whilst the bone was partly sawed and partly cut off, though the pain must have been excessive. Because his right leg remained shorter than the left, he would be for many days together put upon a kind of rack, and with an iron engine he violently stretched and drew out that leg; but all to little purpose, for he remained lame his whole life after.
During the cure of his knee he was confined to his bed, though otherwise in perfect health, and finding the time tedious, he called for some book of romances, for he had been always much delighted with fabulous histories of knight-errantry. None such being then found in the castle of Loyola, a book of of the lives of our Saviour, and of the saints, was brought him. He read them first only to pass away the time, but afterwards began to relish them, and to spend whole days in reading them. He chiefly admired in the saints their love of solitude and of the cross. He considered among the anchorets many persons of quality who buried themselves alive in caves and dens, pale with fasting, and covered with haircloth; and he said to himself: “These men were of the same frame I am of; why then should not I do what they have done?” In the fervour of his good resolutions he thought of visiting the Holy Land, and becoming a hermit; but these pious motions soon vanished; and his passion for glory, and a secret inclination for a rich lady in Castile, with a view to marriage, again filled his mind with thoughts of the world; till returning to the lives of the saints he perceived in his own heart the emptiness of all worldly glory, and that only God could content the soul. This vicissitude and fluctuation of mind continued some time; but he observed this difference, that the thoughts which were from God filled his soul with consolation, peace, and tranquillity; whereas the others brought indeed some sensible delight, but left a certain bitterness and heaviness in the heart. This mark he lays down in his book of Spiritual Exercises, as the ground of the rules for the discernment of the Spirit of God, and the world in all the motions of the soul; as does Cardinal Bona, and all other writers who treat of the discernment of spirits in the interior life. Taking at last a firm resolution to imitate the saints in their heroic practice of virtue, he began to treat his body with all the rigour it was able to bear; he rose at midnight, and spent his retired hours in weeping for his sins.
One night, being prostrate before an image of the Blessed Virgin, in extraordinary sentiments of fervour, he consecrated himself to the service of his Redeemer, under her patronage, and vowed an inviolable fidelity. When he had ended his prayer he heard a great noise; the house shook, the windows of his chamber were broken, and a rent was made in the wall which remains to this day, says the latest writer of his life. God might by this sign testify his acceptance of his sacrifice; as a like sign happened in the place where the faithful were assembled after Christ’s ascension, 1 and in the prison of Paul and Silas; 2 or this might be an effect of the rage of the devil. Another night Ignatius saw the Mother of God environed with light, holding the infant Jesus in her arms; this vision replenished his soul with spiritual delight, and made all sensual pleasure and worldly objects insipid to him ever after. The saint’s eldest brother, who was then, by the death of their father, lord of Loyola, endeavoured to detain him in the world, and to persuade him not to throw away the great advantages of the honour and reputation which his valour had gained him. But Ignatius, being cured of his wounds, under pretence of paying a visit to the Duke of Najara, who had often come to see him during his illness, and who lived at Navarret, turned another way, and sending his two servants back from Navarret to Loyola, went to Montserrat. This was a great abbey of near three hundred Benedictin monks, of a reformed austere institute, situate on a mountain of difficult access, about four leagues in circumference and two leagues high, in the diocess of Barcelona. The monastery was first founded for nuns by the sovereign counts of Barcelona about the year 880, but was given to monks in 990. It has been much augmented by several kings of Spain, and is very famous for a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin, and a great resort of pilgrims.
There lived at that time in this monastery a monk of great sanctity, named John Chanones, a Frenchman, who being formerly vicar-general to the bishop of Mirepoix, in the thirty-first year of his age, resigned his ecclesiastical preferments, and took the monastic habit in this place. He lived to the age of eighty-eight years, never eating any flesh, watching great part of the night in prayer, dividing his whole time between heavenly contemplation and the service of his neighbour; and giving to all Spain an example of the most perfect obedience, humility, charity, devotion, and all other virtues. To this experienced director Ignatius addressed himself, and after his preparation was three days in making to him a general confession, which he often interrupted by the abundance of his tears. He made a vow of perpetual chastity, and dedicated himself with great fervour to the divine service. At his first coming to this place he had bought, at the village of Montserrat, a long coat of coarse cloth, a girdle, a pair of sandals, a wallet, and a pilgrim’s staff, intending, after he had finished his devotions there, to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Disguised in this habit, he remained at the abbey. He communicated to his director a plan of the austerities he proposed to practise, and was confirmed by him in his good resolutions. He received the blessed eucharist early in the morning on the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady in 1522; and, on the same day, left Montserrat for fear of being discovered, having given his horse to the monastery, and hung up his sword on a pillar near the altar, in testimony of his renouncing the secular warfare, and entering himself in that of Christ. He travelled with his staff in his hand, a scrip by his side, bare-headed, and with one foot bare, the other being covered, because it was yet tender and swelled. He went away infinitely pleased that he had cast off the livery of the world, and put on that of Jesus Christ. He had bestowed his rich clothes on a beggar at his coming out of Montserrat; but the poor man was thrown into prison on suspicion of theft. Ignatius being sent after by the magistrates and brought back, told the truth to release him, but would not discover his own name.
Three leagues from Montserrat is a large village called Manresa, with a convent of Dominicans, and an hospital without the walls for pilgrims and sick persons. Ignatius went to this hospital, and rejoicing to see himself received in it unknown and among the poor, began to fast on water and the bread which he begged, the whole week, except Sundays, when he ate a few boiled herbs, but sprinkled over with ashes. He wore an iron girdle and a hair shirt; disciplined himself thrice a day, slept little, and lay on the ground. He was every day present at the whole divine office, spent seven hours on his knees at prayer, and received the sacraments every Sunday. To add humiliation to his bodily austerities, he affected a clownishness in his behaviour, and went begging about the streets with his face covered with dirt, his hair rough, and his beard and nails grown out to a frightful length. The children threw stones at him, and followed him with scornful shouts in the streets. Ignatius suffered these insults without saying one word, rejoicing secretly in his heart to share in the reproaches of the cross. The more mortifying the noisomeness of the hospital and the company of beggars were, the more violence he offered to himself that he might bear them cheerfully. The story of the fine suit of clothes given to the beggar at Montserrat, and the patience and devotion of the holy man, made him soon to be reverenced as some fervent penitent in disguise. To shun this danger, he privately hid himself in a dark deep cave in a solitary valley, called The Vale of Paradise, covered with briers, half a mile from the town. Here he much increased his mortifications, till he was accidentally found half dead, and carried back to Manresa and lodged in the hospital.
After enjoying peace of mind and heavenly consolations from the time of his conversion, he was here visited with the most terrible trial of fears and scruples. He found no comfort in prayer, no relief in fasting, no remedy in disciplines, no consolation from the sacraments, and his soul was overwhelmed with bitter sadness. The Dominicans, out of compassion, took him out of the hospital into their convent; but his melancholy only increased upon him. He apprehended some sin in every step he took, and seemed often on the very brink of despair; but he was in the hands of Him whose trials are favours. He most earnestly implored the divine assistance, and took no sustenance for seven days, till his confessor obliged him to eat. Soon after this, his tranquillity of mind was perfectly restored, and his soul overflowed with spiritual joy. From this experience he acquired a particular talent for curing scrupulous consciences, and a singular light to discern them. His prayer was accompanied with many heavenly raptures, and he received from God a supernatural knowledge and sense of sublime divine mysteries: yet he concealed all from the eyes of men, only disclosing himself to his two confessors, the pious monk of Montserrat, and the Dominican of Manresa; however, the people began to reverence him as a living saint, which they particularly testified during a violent fever into which his austerities cast him three times.
Too nice a worldly prudence may condemn the voluntary humiliations which this saint sometimes made choice of; but the wisdom of God is above that of the world, and the Holy Ghost sometimes inspires certain heroic souls to seek perfectly to die to themselves by certain practices which are extraordinary, and which would not be advisable to others; and if affected or undertaken with obstinacy and against advice, would be pernicious and criminal. Ignatius, by perfect compunction, humility, self-denial, contempt of the world, severe interior trials, and assiduous meditation, was prepared, by the divine grace, to be raised to an extraordinary gift of supernatural prayer. He afterwards assured F. Lainez that he had learned more of divine mysteries by prayer in one hour at Manresa, than all the doctors of the schools could ever have taught him. He was there favoured with many raptures, and divine illustrations concerning the Trinity, of which he afterwards spoke with so much light and unction, that the most learned admired him, and the ignorant were instructed. In like manner, in various wonderful ecstacies, he was enlightened concerning the beauty and order of the creation, the excess of divine love which shines forth to man in the sacrament of the altar, and many other mysteries. So imperfect was his knowledge of his duties when he first renounced the world, that hearing a certain Moresco or Mahometan speak injuriously of the holy mother of God, when he set out from Loyola for Montserrat, he deliberated whether, being an officer, he ought not to kill him, though the divine protection preserved him from so criminal an action. But at Manresa he made so good a progress in the school of virtue as to become qualified already to be a guide to others. He staid there almost a year, during which time he governed himself by the advice of the holy monk of Montserrat, whom he visited every week, and that of his Dominican director.
Spain, in that and the foregoing age, abounded with many learned and experienced persons in that way, endowed with an eminent spirit, and a perfect experimental knowledge of Christian piety; witness the works of St. Peter of Alcantara, John of Avila, St. Teresa, Bartholomew de Martyribus, Lewis of Granada, and others. Our saint had the happiness to fall into the hands of prudent and able guides, and giving his heart to God without reserve, became himself in a short time an accomplished master; and whereas he at first only proposed to himself his own perfection, he afterwards burned with an ardent desire of contributing to the salvation of others; and commiserating the blindness of sinners, and considering how much the glory of God shines in the sanctification of souls purchased with the blood of his Son, he said to himself: “It is not enough that I serve the Lord; all hearts ought to love him, and all tongues ought to praise him.” With this view, in order to be admitted more freely to converse with persons in the world, he chose a dress which, being more decent than the penitential garments which he at first wore, might not be disagreeable to others; and he moderated his excessive austerities.
He began then to exhort many to the love of virtue, and he there wrote his Spiritual Exercises, which he afterwards revised, and published at Rome in 1548. 3 Though the saint was at that time unacquainted with learning any further than barely to read and write, yet this book is so full of excellent maxims and instructions in the highest points of a spiritual life, that it is most clear that the Holy Ghost supplied abundantly what was yet wanting in him of human learning and study. The spirit which reigns in this book was that of all the saints. Frequent religious retirement had been practised by pious persons, in imitation of Christ and all the saints from the beginning; likewise the use and method of holy meditation were always known; but the excellent order of these meditations, prescribed by Ignatius, was new: and, though the principal rules and maxims are found in the lessons and lives of the ancient fathers of the desert, they are here judiciously chosen, methodically digested, and clearly explained. One of these is, that a person must not abridge the time, or desist from meditating, on account of spiritual dryness; another, that no one make any vow in sudden sentiments of fervour, but wait some time, and first ask advice. St. Ignatius establishes in this book the practice of a daily particular examination against a person’s predominant passion, or on the best means and endeavours to acquire some particular virtue, besides the daily general examination of conscience. He lays down this excellent maxim; 4 “When God hath pointed out a way, we must faithfully follow it, and never think of another, under pretence that it is more easy and safe. It is one of the devil’s artifices to set before a soul some state, holy indeed, but impossible to her, or at least different from hers; that by this love of novelty, she may dislike or be slack in her present state, in which God hath placed her, and which is best for her. In like manner he represents to her other actions as more holy and profitable to make her conceive a disgust of her present employment.” When some pretended to find fault with this book of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, Pope Paul III. at the request of St. Francis Borgia, by a brief in 1548, approved it, as full of the Spirit of God, and very useful for the edification and spiritual profit of the faithful.
The pestilence which raged in Italy having ceased, Ignatius, after a stay of ten months at Manresa, left that place for Barcelona, neither regarding the tears of those who sought to detain him, nor admitting any to bear him company, nor consenting to accept any money for the expenses of his journey. He took shipping at Barcelona, and in five days landed at Gæta, whence he travelled on foot to Rome, Padua, and Venice, through villages, the towns being shut for fear of the plague. He spent the Easter at Rome, and sailed from Venice on board the admiral’s vessel, which was carrying the governor to Cyprus. The sailors were a profligate crew, and seemed entirely to neglect prayer and all duties of religion, and their discourse was often lewd and profane. Ignatius having reproved them for their licentiousness, his zeal made them conspire to leave him ashore in a desert island; but a gust of wind from the land hindered the ship from touching upon it. He arrived at Cyprus, and found in the port a vessel full of pilgrims, just ready to hoist sail. Going immediately on board, he made a good voyage, and landed at Jaffa, the ancient Joppe, on the last day of August, 1523, forty days after he had left Venice. He went on foot from thence to Jerusalem in four days. The sight of the holy places filled his soul with joy and the most ardent sentiments of devotion and compunction, and he desired to stay there to labour in the conversion of the Mahometans. The provincial of the Franciscans, by virtue of his authority from the holy see over the pilgrims, commanded him to leave Palestine. Ignatius obeyed, but slipt privately back to satisfy his devotion again in visiting twice more the print of our Saviour’s feet on mount Olivet.
He returned to Europe in winter in extreme cold weather, poorly clad, and came to Venice at the end of January in 1524; from whence he continued his journey by Genoa to Barcelona. Desiring to qualify himself for the functions of the altar, and for assisting spiritually his neighbour, he began at Barcelona to study grammar, and addressed himself to a famous master named Jerom Ardebal, being assisted in the mean time in his maintenance by the charities of a pious lady of that city, called Isabel Rosella. He was then thirty-three years old; and it is not hard to conceive what difficulties he must go through in learning the rudiments of grammar at that age. Moreover, he seemed, by his military employments, and after his retreat by his contemplative life, very unfit for such an undertaking. At first, his mind was so fixed only on God, that he forgot every thing he read, and conjugating amo, for example, could only repeat to himself, “I love God; I am loved by God,” and the like; but resisting this as a temptation, he began to make some progress, still joining contemplation and extraordinary austerities with his studies. He bore the jeers and taunts of the little boys, his schoolfellows, with joy. Hearing that a poor man called Lasano had hanged himself on a beam in his chamber, he ran to him, cut the rope, and prayed by him till the man returned to himself, though he had before seemed perfectly dead to all the bystanders. Lasano made his confession, received the sacraments, and soon after expired. This fact was regarded in the city as miraculous.
Some persons persuaded Ignatius to read Erasmus’s Christian Soldier, an elegant book wrote by that master of style, at the request of an officer’s pious lady, for the use of her husband, a man of loose morals. The saint always found his heart dry after reading this or any other of that author’s works; which made him afterwards caution those of his society against reading them, at least very much. Though in that writer’s paraphrase on the Lord’s prayer and other such treatises of piety, we find very pious sentiments collected from great authors, and elegantly and concisely expressed, yet a devout reader finds the language of the heart wanting. On the other side, it is well known how much St. Ignatius read daily, and recommended to all others the incomparable book, Of the Imitation of Christ, which he made frequent use to nourish and increase the fervour of his soul. He lodged at the house of one Agnes Pascal, a devout woman. Her son John Pascal, a pious youth, would sometimes rise in the night to observe what Ignatius did in his chamber, and saw him sometimes on his knees, sometimes prostrate on the ground, his countenance on fire, and often in tears, repeating such words as these: “O God, my love, and the delight of my soul, if men knew thee they could never offend thee! My God, how good art thou to bear with such a sinner as I am!”
The saint, after studying two years at Barcelona, went to the university of Alcala, which had been lately founded by Cardinal Ximenes, where he attended at the same time at lectures in logic, physics, and divinity; by which multiplicity he only confounded his ideas, and learned nothing at all, though he studied night and day. He lodged in a chamber of an hospital, lived by begging a small subsistence, and wore a coarse grey habit, in which he was imitated by four companions. He catechised children, held assemblies of devotion in the hospital, and by his mild reprehensions converted many loose livers, and among others one of the richest prelates in Spain. Some accused him of sorcery, and of the heresy of certain visionaries lately condemned in Spain under the name of the Illuminati, or Men of New Light: but, upon examination, he was justified by the inquisitors. After this, for teaching the catechism, being a man without learning or authority, he was accused to the bishop’s grand vicar, who confined him to close prison two-and-forty days, but declared him innocent of any fault by a public sentence on the 1st day of June, 1527; yet forbidding him and his companions to wear any singular habit, or to give any instructions in religious matters, being illiterate persons. Ignatius rejoiced in his jail that he suffered though innocent, but spoke with such piety that many called him another St. Paul in prison. Being enlarged, he went about the streets with a public officer to beg money to buy a scholar’s dress, in which action he rejoiced at the insults and affronts which he met with. However, he went himself to the archbishop of Toledo, Alphonsus de Fonseca, who was much pleased with him, but advised him to leave Alcala, and go to Salamanca, promising him his protection. Ignatius, in this latter place, began to draw many to virtue, and was followed by great numbers, which exposed him again to suspicions of introducing dangerous practices, and the grand-vicar of Salamanca imprisoned him; but after two-and-twenty days declared him innocent, and a person of sincere virtue. Ignatius looked upon prisons, sufferings, and ignominy as the height of his ambition; and God was pleased to purge and sanctify his soul by these trials. Recovering his liberty again, he resolved to leave Spain.
He from that time began to wear shoes, and received money sent him by his friends, but in the middle of winter travelled on foot to Paris, where he arrived in the beginning of February, 1528. He spent two years in perfecting himself in the Latin tongue; then went through a course of philosophy. He lived first in Montaigue college; but being robbed of his money was obliged to lodge in the hospital of St. James, to beg his bread from day to day, and in the vacation time to go into Flanders, and once into England, to procure charities from the Spanish merchants settled there, from whom and from some friends at Barcelona he received abundant supplies. He studied his philosophy three years and a half in the college of St. Barbara. He had induced many of his schoolfellows to spend the Sundays and holydays in prayer, and to apply themselves more fervently to the practice of good works. Pegna his master thought he hindered their studies, and finding him not corrected by his admonitions, prepossessed Govea, principal of the college of St. Barbara, against him, so that he was ordered by him to undergo the greatest punishment then in use in that university, called The Hall, which was a public whipping; that this infamy might deter others from following him. The regents came all into the hall with rods in their hands, ready to lash the seditious student. Ignatius offered himself joyfully to suffer all things; yet, apprehending lest the scandal of this disgrace should make those whom he had reclaimed fall back, when they saw him condemned as a corrupter of youth, went to the principal in his chamber, and modestly laid open to him the sentiments of his soul, and the reasons of his conduct; and offered himself as much as concerned his own person, that any sacrifice should be made of his body and fame, but begged of him to consider the scandal some might receive, who were yet young and tender in virtue. Govea made him no answer, but taking him by the hand led him into the hall, where, at the ringing of the bell, the whole college stood ready assembled. When all saw the principal enter, and expected the sign for the punishment, he threw himself at the feet of Ignatius, begging his pardon for having too lightly believed such false reports; then rising, he publicly declared that Ignatius was a living saint, and had no other aim or desire than the salvation of souls, and was ready to suffer joyfully any infamous punishment. Such a reparation of honour gave the saint the highest reputation, and even the ancient and experienced doctors asked his advice in spiritual matters. Pegna himself was ever after his great admirer and friend, and appointed another scholar, who was more advanced in his studies, and a young man of great virtue and quick parts, to assist him in his exercises. This was Peter Faber, a Savoyard, a native of the diocess of Geneva, by whose help he finished his philosophy, and took the degree of master of arts with great applause, after a course of three years and a half, according to the custom of the times. After this, Ignatius began his divinity at the Dominicans.
Peter Faber had from his childhood made a vow of chastity, which he had always most faithfully kept, yet was troubled with violent temptations, from which the most rigorous fasts did not deliver him. He was also tempted to vain-glory, and laboured under great anxiety and scruples about these temptations, which he at length disclosed to Ignatius his holy pupil, whose skilful and heavenly advice was a healing balsam to his soul. The saint at last prescribed him a course of his spiritual exercises, and taught him the practices of meditation, of the particular examination, and other means of perfection, conducting him through all the paths of an interior life. St. Francis Xavier, a young master of philosophy, full of the vanity of the schools, was his next conquest. St. Ignatius made him sensible that all mortal glory is emptiness; only that which is eternal deserving our regard. He converted many abandoned sinners. When a young man, engaged in a criminal commerce with a woman of the city, was proof against his exhortations, Ignatius stood in a frozen pond by the way side up to the neck, and as he passed by in the night, cried out to him, “Whither are you going? Do not you hear the thunder of divine justice over your head, ready to break upon you? Go then; satisfy your brutish passion; here I will suffer for you, to appease heaven.” The lewd young man, at first affrighted, then confounded, returned back, and changed his life. By the like pious stratagems the saint recovered many other souls from the abysses into which they were fallen. He often served the sick in the hospitals; and one day finding a repugnance to touch the ulcers of one sick of a contagious distemper, to overcome himself he not only dressed his sores, but put his hand from them to his mouth, saying, “Since thou art afraid for one part, thy whole body shall take its share.” From that time he felt no natural repugnance in such actions
James Laynez, of Almazan, twenty-one years of age; Alphonsus Salmeron, only eighteen; and Nicholas Alphonso, surnamed Bobadilla, from the place of his birth, near Valencia, all Spaniards of great parts, at that time students in divinity at Paris, associated themselves to the saint in his pious exercises. Simon Rodriguez, a Portuguese, joined them. These fervent students, moved by the pressing instances and exhortations of Ignatius, made altogether a vow to renounce the world, to go to preach the gospel in Palestine, or if they could not go thither within a year after they had finished their studies, to offer themselves to his holiness to be employed in the service of God in what manner he should judge best. They fixed for the end of all their studies the 25th day of January in 1537, and pronounced this vow aloud, in the holy subterraneous chapel at Montmartre, after they had all received the holy communion from Peter Faber, who had been lately ordained priest. This was done on the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, in 1534. Ignatius continued frequent conferences, and joint exercises, to animate his companions in their good purposes; but soon after was ordered by the physicians to try his native air, for the cure of a lingering indisposition. He left Paris in the beginning of the year 1535, and was most honourably and joyfully received in Guipuscoa by his eldest brother Garcias, and his nephews, and by all the clergy in processions. He refused to go to the castle of Loyola, taking up his quarters in the hospital of Azpetia. The sight of the places where he had led a worldly life excited in him the deepest sentiments of compunction, and he chastised his body with a rough hair shirt, iron chains, disciplines, watching, and prayer. He recovered his health in a short time, and catechised and instructed the poor with incredible fruit. Ignatius, in his childhood, had with some companions robbed an orchard, for which another man had been condemned to pay the damages. In the first discourse he made he accused himself publicly of this fact, and calling the poor man, who was present, declared that he had been falsely accused, and for reparation gave him two farms which belonged to him, begging his pardon before all the people, adding that this was one of the reasons of his journey thither.
In the mean time, three others, all doctors in divinity, by the exhortations of Faber, joined the saint’s companions in Paris. Claudius le Jay, a Savoyard, John Codure, a native of Dauphiné, and Pasquier Brouet, of Picardy; so that with Ignatius they were now ten in number. The holy founder, after a tedious and dangerous journey both by sea and land arrived at Venice about the end of the year 1536, and his nine companions from Paris met him there on the 8th of January, 1537, they employed themselves in the hospitals, but all except Ignatius went to Rome, where Pope Paul III. received them graciously, and granted them an indult, that those who were not priests might receive holy orders from what bishop they pleased. They were accordingly ordained at Venice by the bishop of Arbe. Ignatius was one of this number. After their ordination they retired into a cottage near Vicenza, to prepare themselves in solitude by fasting and prayer for the holy ministry of the altar. The rest said their first masses in September and October, but Ignatius deferred his from month to month till Christmas day, overflowing in his retirement with heavenly consolations, and in danger of losing his sight through the abundance of his tears. Thus he employed a whole year in preparing himself to offer that adorable sacrifice. After this they dispersed themselves into several places about Verona and Vicenza, preaching penance to the people, and living on a little bread which they begged. The emperor and the Venetians having declared war against the Turks, their pilgrimage into Palestine was rendered impracticable. The year therefore being elapsed, Ignatius, Faber, and Laynez went to Rome, threw themselves at his holiness’s feet and offered themselves to whatever work he should judge best to employ them in. St. Ignatius told his companions at Vicenza, that if any one asked what their institute was, they might answer: “the Society of Jesus;” because they were united to fight against heresies and vice under the standard of Christ. In his road from Vicenza to Rome, praying in a little chapel between Sienna and Rome, he, in an ecstacy, seemed to see the Eternal Father, who affectionately commended him to his Son. Jesus Christ appeared at the same time also shining with an unspeakable light, but loaded with a heavy cross, and sweetly said to Ignatius: “I will be favourable to you at Rome.” 5 This St. Ignatius disclosed to F. Laynez, in a transport when he came out of the chapel; and F. Laynez, when he was general, related it to all the fathers in Rome in a domestic conference, at which F. Ribadeneira, who records it, was present. The same was attested by others to whom the saint had discovered this signal favour. Pope Paul III. accordingly received them graciously; and appointed Faber, called in French Le Fevre, to teach in the Sapienza at Rome scholastic divinity, and Laynez to explain the holy scripture; whilst Ignatius laboured, by means of his spiritual exercises and instructions, to reform the manners of the people.
The holy founder, with a view to perpetuate the work of God, called to Rome all his companions, and proposed to them his design and motives of forming themselves into a religious Order. After recommending the matter to God by fasting and prayer, all agreed in the proposal, and resolved, first, besides the vows of poverty and chastity already made by them, to add a third of perpetual obedience, the more perfectly to conform themselves to the Son of God who was obedient even to death; and to establish a general whom all, by their vow, should be bound to obey, who should be perpetual, and his authority absolute, subject entirely to the pope, but not liable to be restrained by chapters. He likewise determined to prescribe a fourth vow of going wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls, and even without money, if it should so please him: also that the professed Jesuits should possess no real estates or revenues, either in particular, or in common; but that colleges might enjoy revenues and rents for the maintenance of students of the Order. In the meanwhile Govea, principal of the college of St. Barbara at Paris had recommended the Jesuits to the king of Portugal as proper missionaries for the conversion of the Indies, and that prince asked of Ignatius six labourers for that purpose. The founder having only ten, could send him no more than two, Simon Rodriguez, who remained in Portugal, and Xavier, afterwards the apostle of the Indies. The three cardinals appointed by the pope to examine the affair of this new Order, at first opposed it, thinking religious Orders already too much multiplied, but changed their opinions on a sudden, and Pope Paul III. approved it under the title of “The Society of Jesus,” by a bull dated the 27th of September, 1540. Ignatius was chosen the first general, but only acquiesced in obedience to his confessor. He entered upon his office on Easter day, 1541, and the members all made their religious vows, according to the bull of their institution.
Ignatius then set himself to write constitutions or rules for his society, in which he lays down its end to be, in the first place, the sanctification of their own souls by joining together the active and the contemplative life; for nothing so much qualifies a minister of God to save others as the sanctification of his own soul in the first place; secondly, to labour for the salvation and perfection of their neighbour, and this, first, by catechising the ignorant; (which work is the basis and ground of religion and virtue, and though mean and humble, is the most necessary and indispensable duty of every pastor,) secondly, by the instruction of youth 6 in piety and learning; upon which the reformation of the world principally depends;) and thirdly, by the direction of consciences, missions, and the like. 7
St. Ignatius would have the office of general to be perpetual or for life, being persuaded this would better command the respect of inferiors, and more easily enable him to undertake and carry on great enterprises for the glory of God, which require a considerable time to have them well executed. Nevertheless, he often strenuously endeavoured to resign that dignity, but was never able to compass it; and at length the pope forbade him any more to attempt it. He had no sooner taken that charge upon him than he went into the kitchen, and served as a scullion under the cook, and he continued for forty-six days to catechise poor children in the church of the Society. By preaching he gained such an ascendant over the hearts of the people as produced many wonderful conversions. Among the pious establishments which he made at Rome, he founded a house for the reception of Jews who should be converted, during the time of their instruction, and another for the reception and maintenance of lewd women who should be desirous to enter upon virtuous courses, yet were not called to a religious state among the Magdalens or penitents. When one told him that the conversion of such sinners is seldom sincere, he answered: “To prevent only one sin would be a great happiness, though it cost me ever so great pains.” He procured two houses to be erected at Rome for the relief of poor orphans of both sexes, and another for the maintenance of young women whose poverty might expose their virtue to danger. The heart of this blessed man so burned with charity, that he was continually thinking and speaking of what might most contribute to promote the divine honour and the sanctification of souls; and he did wonders by the zealous fathers of his Society in all parts of the globe. He was entreated by many princes and cities of Italy, Spain, Germany, and the Low-Countries to afford them some of his labourers. Under the auspicious protection of John III. king of Portugal, he sent St. Francis Xavier into the East Indies, where he gained a new world to the faith of Christ. He sent John Nugnez and Lewis Gonzales into the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco to instruct and assist the Christian slaves; in 1547, four others to Congo in Africa; in 1555, thirteen into Abyssinia, among whom John Nugnez was nominated by Pope Julius III. patriarch of Ethiopia, and two others, bishops; lastly, others into the Portuguese settlements in South America.
Pope Paul III. commissioned the fathers James Laynez and Alphonsus Salmeron to assist, in quality of his theologians, at the Council of Trent. Before their departure St. Ignatius, among other instructions, gave them a charge in all disputations to be careful above all things to preserve modesty and humility, and to shun all confidence, contentiousness, or empty display of learning. F. Claudius Le Jay appeared in the same council as theologian of Cardinal Otho, bishop of Ausberg. Many of the first disciples of St. Ignatius distinguished themselves in divers kingdoms of Europe, but none with greater reputation, both for learning and piety, than Peter Canisius, who was a native of Nimeguen, in the Low Countries, and having with wonderful success employed his zealous labours at Ingolstadt and in several other parts of Germany, and in Bohemia, died in the odour of sanctity, at Fribourg, in 1597, seventy-seven years old. 8 Whilst F. Claudius Le Jay was at Trent, Ferdinand, king of the Romans, nominated him bishop of Trieste. The good father seemed ready to die of grief at this news, and wrote to St. Ignatius, humbly requesting him to put some bar to this promotion. The holy founder was himself alarmed, and by a pressing letter to the king, prevailed upon him not to do what would be an irreparable prejudice to his young Society. He urged to the pope and sacred college many reasons why he desired that all the fathers of his Society should be excluded from all ecclesiastical dignities, alleging that this would be a means more easily to preserve among them a spirit of humility and poverty, which is the very soul and perfection of their state; and that, being missionaries, it was more advantageous to the church that they should remain such, always ready to fly from pole to pole, as the public necessities should require. The pope being satisfied with his reasons, the saint obliged all professed Jesuits to bind themselves by a simple vow never to seek prelatures, and to refuse them when offered, unless compelled by a precept of the pope to accept them.
In 1546 the Jesuits first opened their schools in Europe, in the college which St. Francis Borgia had erected for them at Gandia, with the privileges of a university. 9 The seminary of Goa in Asia, which had been erected some years before for the Indian missions, was committed to the Jesuits, under the direction of St. Francis Xavier, the preceding year. King John also founded for them, in 1546, a noble college at Coïmbra, the second which they had in Europe. F. Simon Rodriguez directed this establishment, and many others in Portugal, Spain, and Brasil, and died at Lisbon in the highest reputation for sanctity and learning in 1579. Among the rules which St. Ignatius gave to the masters, he principally inculcated the lessons of humility, modesty, and devotion; he prescribed that all their scholars should hear mass every day, go to confession every month, and always begin their studies by prayer; that their masters should take every fit occasion to inspire them with the love of heavenly things; and that by daily meditation, self-examinations, pious reading, retreat, and the constant exercise of the divine presence, they should nourish in their own souls a fervent spirit of prayer, which without the utmost care is extinguished by a dry course of studies and school disputations; and with it is destroyed the very soul of a religious or spiritual life. He recommended nothing more earnestly, both to professors and scholars, than that they should dedicate all their labours, with the greatest fervour, to the greater glory of God, which intention will make studies equal to prayer. He treated very harshly all those whom learning rendered self-conceited, or less devout; and removed all those masters who discovered any fondness for singular opinions. It is incredible with what attention and industry he promoted emulation and every means that could be a spur to scholars. He required that copies of some of the principal literary performances should be sent from all the colleges to Rome, where he had them examined before him, that he might better judge of the progress both of masters and scholars.
He encouraged every branch of the sciences, and would have the fathers in his society applied to those functions, whether in teaching, preaching, or the missions, for which God seemed chiefly to qualify and destine them by their genius, talents, and particular graces; yet so that no one should neglect the duties either of assiduous prayer and an interior life, or of instructing and catechising others. He recommended to them all, especially to the masters of novices, &c., to read diligently the conferences, lives, and writings of the fathers of the desert, and other pious ascetics, in order to learn their spirit. With what success many among them did this, appears from the Practice of Christian Perfection, compiled by F. Alphonsus Rodriguez, one of the most eminent persons whom our saint had admitted into his society. In this excellent work he gathered and digested, in a clear and easy method, the most admirable maxims and lessons of the ancient monks; and having many years trained up, according to them, the novices of his Order in Spain, died holily in the year 1616, the ninetieth of his age. 10 We have other eminent instances of this holy spirit and science among the primitive disciples of St. Ignatius, in the works of F. Lewis de Ponte or Puente, who died in 1624, and whose canonization has been often desired by the kings of Spain; in those of F. Alvarez de Paz, who died in Peru in 1620; and in the writings and life of F. Baltassar Alvarez, who died in Spain in 1580, in the odour of sanctity.
St. Francis Borgia, in 1551, gave a considerable sum towards building the Roman college for the Jesuits. Pope Julius III. contributed largely to it; Paul IV. in 1555, founded it for perpetuity with great munificence; afterwards Gregory XIII. much augmented its buildings and revenues. St. Ignatius, intending to make this the model of all his other colleges, neglected nothing to render it complete, and took care that it should be supplied with the ablest masters in all the sciences, and with all possible helps for the advancement of literature. He made it a strict rule in the society, that every one should study to speak correctly the language of the country where he lives; 11 for, without being perfect in the vulgar tongue, no one can be qualified to preach or perform many other functions with profit. On this account he established in the Roman college daily lessons in the Italian tongue, and he carefully studied that language, and appointed others to put him in mind of all the faults which he should commit in speaking. St. Ignatius also directed the foundation of the German college in Rome made by Julius III. but afterwards finished by Gregory XIII. He often met with violent persecutions, but overcame them by meekness and patience. When the French king, Henry II., gave the society letters patent to settle in France, the parliament of Paris made the most outrageous remonstrances, and the faculty of Sorbon, though not without opposition, passed a virulent decree against it. The other fathers at Rome thought it necessary to answer these censures; but St. Ignatius would have nothing printed or written in their defence, saying, that it was better to commit their cause to God, and that the slanders raised against them would fall of themselves; and so it happened. Indeed the storm was too violent to last. Upon other occasions the saint modestly defended his institute against slanderers.
The prudence and charity of the saint in his conduct towards his religious, won him all their hearts. His commands seemed rather entreaties. The address with which he accommodated himself to every one’s particular genius, and the mildness with which he tempered his reproofs, gave to his reprehensions a sweetness which gained the affections whilst it corrected a fault. Thus chiding one for his too little guard over his eyes, he said to him with tenderness: “I have often admired the modesty of your deportment, yet observe that unguarded glances often escape you.” When another had fixed his eyes steadfastly upon him a long time, the saint enjoined him to make the government of his eye the subject of his particular examination, and to say every day a short prayer for fifteen months. He extremely recommended a strict modesty in the whole exterior as the index of the interior, and a means absolutely necessary for the regulating of it, and the government of the senses and passions. He always showed the affection of the most tender parent towards all his brethren, especially towards the sick, for whom he was solicitous to procure every spiritual and even temporal succour and comfort, which it was his great delight to give them himself. The most perfect obedience and self-denial were the two first lessons which he inculcated to his novices, whom he told at the door as they entered, that they must leave behind them all self-will and private judgment. In his famous letter to the Portuguese Jesuits, on The Virtue of Obedience, he says, this alone bringeth forth and nourisheth all other virtues; and calls it the peculiar virtue, and distinguishing mark and characteristic of his society, in which, if any member suffer himself to be outdone by those of other Orders in fasting or watching, that he must yield to none in obedience. He adds, true obedience must reach the understanding as well as the will, and never suffer a person even secretly to complain of, or censure the precept of a superior, whom he must always consider as vested with the authority of Jesus Christ over him. He says, it is not a less fault to break the laws of obedience in watching than in sleeping, in labouring than in doing nothing.
When F. Araos, whose spiritual labours were very successful in the court of Spain, seemed to seek the conversation of the great ones of the world, upon pretence of conciliating their favour to his ministry, St. Ignatius sent him a sharp reprimand, telling him, that the necessary authority for the ministers of the word of God, is to be gained only by a spirit of recollection, and the exercises of Christian humility; for the loss of everything is to be feared in an intercourse with the great ones of the world. He used to say, that prosperity caused in him more fear than joy, that when persecution ceased he should be in apprehension lest the society should somewhat relax in the observance of its regular discipline; that good fortune is never to be trusted, and that we have most to fear when things go according to our desires. He made a most severe regulation, that in the society no one should even visit women, even of the highest quality, alone; and that when they discoursed with them, or heard their confessions, this should be so ordered, that the companion might see all that passed, without hearing what ought to be secret, this being a means to prevent the possibility of evil suspicions or slanders. In the assigning the employments of those under his charge, he had usually a regard to their inclinations, though he always required that, on their parts, they should be wholly indifferent and disposed cheerfully to accept and discharge any.
Notwithstanding the fatigue and constant application which the establishment of his Order in all parts of the world, and so many other great enterprises undertaken to promote the glory of God required, he was all on fire with an excess of charity, and a restless desire of gaining souls to God, and wearied himself out in the service of his neighbour, always labouring to extirpate vice, and to promote virtue in all, and set on foot several practices which might conduce to the divine service and the salvation of men. It is not to be believed how many and how great affairs this blessed man was able to go through, and with what courage and spirit he bore so continual a burden, and this with so weak health and infirm body. But he was assisted by the powerful hand of our Lord, that furnished him with strength for all his labours; so that he then appeared strongest and most courageous, when he was weary, sickly, and unprovided of human and natural helps; for, in his infirmity, the power of God manifested itself, and the saint seemed to support the weakness of his body with the vigour of his soul. This interior strength he chiefly maintained by an eminent spirit of prayer, and the constant and closest union of his soul with God; for he was favoured with an extraordinary grace of devotion, which he, out of humility, thought God had given him out of compassion for his weakness and misery, which he said was greater than that of any other. In saying the holy mass, and reciting the divine office, the abundance of heavenly delights which God poured into his soul, was often so great, and made such showers of tears stream from his eyes, that he was obliged to stop in a manner at every word, sometimes to make a considerable interruption whilst he gave vent to his tears. It was once feared, lest his continual effusion of tears should hurt his eye-sight. At other times, though his eyes were dry at his devotion, and the sluices of his tears were shut up, yet their influence and effect was not wanting; for his spirit was still watered with heavenly dew, and the divine illustrations ceased not to flow copiously into his soul
In matters of concern, though reasons were ever so convincing and evident, he never took any resolution before he had consulted God by prayer. He let not an hour pass in the day without recollecting himself interiorly, and examining his conscience, for this purpose banishing for a while all other thoughts. He never applied his mind so much to exterior affairs as to lose the sweet relish of interior devotion. He had God always and in all things present to his mind. Every object served him for a book, wherein he read the divine perfections, and by that means raised his heart to his Creator. He recommended this manner of prayer to every one, especially to those who are employed in spiritual functions for the help of their neighbour. Before he betook himself to public or private prayer, he prepared his soul with great fervour, and entering into the oratory of his heart, enkindled his affections, so that this appeared in his countenance, and he seemed to be all on fire, as we ourselves frequently observed, says Ribadeneira. The saint being once asked by F. Lainez what manner of prayer he used, gave this answer, that in matters concerning Almighty God he behaved himself rather passively than actively. He prayed sometimes standing, and profoundly adored the majesty of God present to his soul; he often bowed his body low, and most frequently prayed on his knees. No sooner had he recollected his mind in God, but his countenance put on an air which appeared altogether heavenly, and often streams of tears fell sweetly from his eyes.
He prescribed to the priests of his Order to be about half an hour at the altar in saying mass, to avoid on one side the least appearance of indecent hurry and precipitation in that tremendous sacrifice; and on the other, not to be tedious to the people by unseasonably indulging their private devotion. Nevertheless, he was himself about an hour in saying mass, to excuse which he alleged the plea of necessity, being often obliged to make pauses through an irresistible tenderness of devotion. After mass he spent two hours in private prayer, during which time no one was admitted to speak to him except on some pressing necessity. F. Lewis Gonzales, who for some time governed the college under him, says: “As often as I went to him at that time, which necessity frequently obliged me to do, I always saw his face shining with an air so bright and heavenly, that, quite forgetting myself, I stood astonished in contemplating him. Nor was his countenance like that of many devout men in whom I have admired a wonderful serenity at their prayers, but it breathed something quite unusual, and, as it were, divine.” On other occasions the like was remarked in him; on which account F. Lainez compared him to Moses when he came from conversing with God. Nicholas Lanoy testified, that he one day saw a fire flame on his head whilst he was saying mass. St. Philip Neri, who often visited St. Ignatius, used to assure his friends that he had seen his face shining with bright rays of light, as F. Antony Galloni, his disciple and confident in all his concerns, and Marcellus Vitelleschi declared they had often heard from his own mouth; of which Cardinal Taurusius, archbishop of Sienna, published an authentic certificate. 12 John Petronius, a famous physician in Rome, declared publicly that, when sick, he once saw his own chamber, which was then very dark, by reason of the windows being shut, filled with a dazzling light from such rays upon the blessed man’s coming into it. Isabel Rosella, John Pascal, and several other persons testified, that they had sometimes beheld his countenance at prayer sparkling with radiant beams of light, the abundant consolations which replenished his soul redounding on his body. John Pascal added, that he had seen him in prayer raised more than a foot above the ground, and heard him say at the same time: “O my God! O my Lord! O that men knew thee!” The saint was often favoured, amidst the tears and fervour of his devotion, with wonderful raptures, visions, and revelations; and some of these visions and other supernatural favours St. Ignatius mentioned himself in short notes which he wrote, and which were found in his own hand after his death, some of which notes are published by F. Bartoli. 13 Others are mentioned by Ribadeneira, who inserted in the saint’s life, as he declares, only what himself had seen, or had heard from his mouth, or from persons of unquestionable authority, and whose life of his holy founder, by the order of St. Francis Borgia, was carefully examined and approved by the principal persons then living who had frequently conversed with the saint, as Salmeron, Bobadilla, Polancus, who had been the saint’s secretary, Natalis, &c.
If the spirit of prayer was that virtue by which our saint was admitted to the familiar intercourse with God, was the key which unlocked to him the treasure of all other virtues and graces, and was the continual comfort, support, and light of his soul, and the constant advancement of its supernatural life in his mortal pilgrimage, this spirit was itself founded in the most perfect self-denial. The Holy Ghost never communicates himself, by the infusion of this grace, but to a heart that is entirely dead to itself and its passions, and crucified to the world. This St. Ignatius understood so well, that hearing another once say, that a certain person was endowed with a great gift of contemplation, and was eminently a man of prayer, he corrected the expression, saying: “call him rather a man of the most perfect self-denial;” because the spirit of grace and prayer requires a perfect purity and disengagement from all inordinate affections, and a heart empty of itself. This victory over himself the saint obtained by an habitual practice of the exterior mortification of his senses; and by that perfect patience, resignation, and confidence in God, and constancy with which he bore the most severe interior and exterior trials. To complete the most essential interior mortification of his will and passions, he added the practice of an unlimited obedience to his directors and superiors, and of the most profound and sincere humility. Even when broken with age and infirmities, he said, that should his holiness command it, he would with joy go on board the first ship he could find; and if he were so ordered, though it had neither sails nor rudder, and without any warning, would immediately set out for any part of the globe. It was his perpetual lesson to his novices: “Sacrifice your will and judgment by obedience. Whatever you do without the consent of your spiritual guide will be imputed to wilfulness, not to virtue, though you were to exhaust your bodies by labours or austerities.”
Humility is the sister virtue of obedience, the foundation of a spiritual life, and the distinguishing mark or characteristic of all the saints. This virtue, St. Ignatius embraced with the utmost ardour, from his first entering upon a spiritual course of life. He went a long time in old tattered rags, and lived in hospitals, despised, affronted, and persecuted; this he desired, and in it he found his great joy and satisfaction. He ever retained this affection for humiliations, out of a sincere contempt of himself; for acknowledging himself a sinner, he was thoroughly persuaded that contempt and injuries from all creatures, as instruments of the divine justice, were his due, and that he was most unworthy of all comforts, favour, or regard. Nothing but charity and zeal to procure his neighbour’s good restrained him from doing ridiculous things on purpose to be laughed at by all; and he always practised such humiliations as were consistent with prudence and his other duties. All his actions and whatever belonged to him, breathed an air of sincere humility. His apparel was poor, though clean; his bed was very mean, and his diet coarse, and so temperate, that it was a perpetual abstinence. He employed himself often most cheerfully in the meanest offices about the house, as in making beds, and in cleansing the chambers of the sick. It was his great study to conceal his virtues, and nothing was more admirable in his life than the address with which he covered his most heroic actions under the veil of humility. Though he was superior, he frequently submitted to inferiors with wonderful meekness and humility, when he could do it without prejudice to his authority. In things of which he was not certain, he readily acquiesced in the judgment of others; and was a great enemy to all positiveness, and to the use of superlatives in discourse. He received rebukes from any one with cheerfulness and thanks. If in his presence anything was said that redounded to his praise, he showed an extreme confusion, which was usually accompanied with many tears. He was seldom heard to speak of himself, and never but on very pressing occasions. Though visions, revelations, and the like favours were frequently vouchsafed him, he scarcely ever mentioned such things; but all his discourse was of humility, charity, patience, divine zeal, prayer, mortification, and other such virtues, of which we are to make the greatest account, and by which alone men become saints and friends of God. Ribadeneira heard him say, that every one in the house was to him an example of virtue, and that he was not scandalized at anyone besides himself. It was his usual saying, that he did not think there was a man in the world, that on one side received from God so great and continual favours, and yet on the other side was so ungrateful, and so slothful in his service as himself. It was his desire that, after his death, his body might be thrown upon some dunghill, in punishment of the sins he had committed by pampering it. The chief reasons why he would have his Order called The Society of Jesus were, lest his name should be given it, and that his followers might be known by their love and zeal for their Redeemer. As often as he spoke of his Order, he called it, This least Society; for he would have his children to look upon themselves as the last and least of all persons in the church.
From the perfect mortification of all his passions and inordinate affections resulted an admirable peace and evenness of mind which nothing seemed able ever to disturb or ruffle. His contempt of the world appeared by the disinterestedness with which he rejected legacies and presents whenever they might give occasion to complaints. When he looked up towards the heavens, he used feelingly to repeat: “How contemptible doth earth appear when I behold the heavens!” Charity, or the most ardent and pure love of God, was the most conspicuous, and the crown of all his other virtues. He had often in his mouth these words, which he took for his motto or device—“To the greater glory of God,” referring to this end, with all his strength, himself, his Society, and all his actions, in which he always chose that which appeared to him the most perfect. He often said to God: “Lord, what do I desire, or what can I desire besides thee!” True love is never idle; and always to labour, to promote God’s honour, or to suffer for his sake was this saint’s greatest pleasure. He said, that no created thing can bring to a soul such solid joy and comfort as to suffer for Christ. Being asked what was the most certain and the shortest way to perfection, he answered: “To endure for the love of Christ many and grievous afflictions. Ask this grace of our Lord: on whomsoever he bestoweth it, he does him many other signal favours, that always attend this grace.” Out of this burning love of God, he most ardently desired the separation of his soul from his mortal body, when it should be God’s will; and, when he thought of death, he could not refrain from tears of joy, because he should then see his loving Redeemer; and, beholding God face to face, should love and praise him eternally, without let, abatement, or intermission.
From this same love of God sprang his ardent thirst for the salvation of men, for which he undertook so many and so great things, and to which he devoted his watchings, prayers, tears, and labours. When he dismissed any missionaries to preach the word of God, he usually said to them: “Go, brethren, inflame the world, spread about that fire which Jesus Christ came to kindle on earth.” To gain others to Christ he, with admirable address, made himself all to all, going in at their door, and coming out at his own. He received sincere penitents with the greatest sweetness and condescension, so as often to take upon himself part of their penance. When a brother, growing weary of the yoke of Christ, had determined to leave the Society, St. Ignatius by his remonstrances made such an impression upon his heart, that falling at the feet of the general, he offered to undergo whatever punishment he would impose upon him. To which the saint replied: “One part of your penance shall be, that you never repent more of having served God. For the other part, I take it upon myself, and will discharge it for you.” He endeavoured to bring all his penitents to make, without reserve, the perfect sacrifice of themselves to God, telling them, that it is not to be expressed what precious treasures God reserves for, and with what effusion he communicates himself to those who give themselves to him with their whole heart. He proposed to them for their model this prayer, which he used often to recite: “Receive, O Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I possess, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love and your grace; with this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.”
St. Ignatius was general of the Society fifteen years, three months, and nine days; but was in the end so worn out with infirmities, that he procured that the Society should choose him an assistant in that office. This was F. Jerom Nadal. After which, the saint reserved to himself only the care of the sick, and spent his time in continual prayer, and in preparing himself for death. By way of his last will and testament, he dictated certain holy maxims concerning the obligation and conditions of religious obedience, which he bequeathed to his brethren of the Society. The saint, on the day before he died, charged F. Polancus to beg his holiness’s blessing for him at the article of death, though others at that time did not think it so near. The next morning, having lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven, and pronouncing, both with his tongue and heart, the sweet name of Jesus, with a serene countenance, he calmly gave up his happy soul into the hands of his Creator on the last day of July, in the year 1556, the sixty-fifth of his age, the thirty-fifth after his conversion, and the sixteenth after the confirmation of the Society. The people esteemed him a saint both living and after his death; and the opinion of his sanctity was confirmed by many miracles. 14 He saw his Society in very few years divided into twelve provinces, with above one hundred colleges, and spread over almost the whole world. In 1626, it contained thirty-six provinces, and in them eight hundred houses, and fifteen thousand Jesuits, since which time it is much increased. St. Ignatius’s body was buried first in the little church of the Jesuits, dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin in Rome. When Cardinal Alexander Farnesius had built the stately church of the professed house called Il Giesu, it was translated thither in 1587; and, in 1637, was laid under the altar of the chapel, which bears his name. This church is one of the most magnificent piles of building in the world next to the Vatican, and is not less admired for the elegance of the architecture than for its riches, consisting in costly beautiful ornaments of gold, silver, jewels, exquisite paintings, statues, and carving, and a great profusion of fine marble. Among the many chapels which it contains, those of the Blessed Virgin, of the Angels, of SS. Abundius and Abundantius, martyrs, of St. Francis Borgia, of St. Ignatius, are the admiration of travellers, especially the last; in which the remains of the holy founder lie, in a rich silver shrine under the altar, exposed to view. The other glittering rich ornaments of this place seem almost to lose their lustre when the statue of the saint is uncovered. It is somewhat bigger than the life, because raised high. Its bright shining gold, silver, and sparkling diamonds, especially in the crown of glory over the head, dazzle the eye. In the professed house are shown the pictures of St. Ignatius and St. Philip Neri, taken from the life. St. Ignatius’s chamber is now a chapel, his study is another, in which prelates and sometimes popes, come to say mass on the saint’s festival. He was beatified by Paul V. in 1609, and canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622, though the bull was only published the year following by Urban VIII.
The example of the saints evinces that to disengage our affections from earthly things, and to converse much in heaven by the constant union of our hearts to God, is the short road to Christian perfection. Those who are employed in the active life, ought to learn the art of accompanying all their actions with a lively attention to the divine presence, as our guardian angels are faithful in discharging every duty of that external ministry which God hath committed to them, yet so as never to intermit their contemplation of the Godhead, and their incessant homages of praise and love, which are the uninterrupted employment of their happy state. Without this precaution, by the hurry of dry studies, and even the discharge of the sacred ministry itself, the spirit of piety and devotion is extinguished in the heart, and the more sacred functions are easily profaned.
Note 3. Constantine Cajetan, a Benedictin of the Congregation of Mount Cassino, pretends this book to have been first written by Garcias Cisneros or Swan, a Benedictin abbot of Montserrat. But the work of that pious and learned abbot is a very different piece, as is evident to every one that will compare the two books, and as Pinius demonstrates. That of Cisneros is indeed full of unction and spiritual knowledge; but compiled in a scholastic method, and runs into superfluous subdivisions. The meditations of St. Ignatius are altogether new, and written upon a different plan. He appoints, for the foundation of these exercises, a moving meditation on the end for which we are created, that we fully convince ourselves that nothing is otherwise to be valued, sought, or enjoyed, than as it conduces to the honour and service of God. The meditations on the fall of the angels and of man, on the future punishments of sin, and on the last things, show us the general effects of sin. To point out the particular disorders of our passions, and to purge our hearts of them, he represents to us the two standards of Christ and the devil, and all men ranging themselves under the one or the other, that we may be moved ardently to make our choice with the generous souls that follow Christ. Then he proposes what this resolution requires, and how we are to express in ourselves the perfect image of our Saviour, by the three degrees of humility, by meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life, and by choosing a state of life, and regulating our employments in it. By meditating on Christ’s sufferings, he will have us learn the heroic virtues of meekness and charity, &c.; he taught us by them to fortify our souls against contradictions; and by those on his glorious mysteries, and on the happiness of divine love, he teaches us to unite our hearts closely to God. See Bartoli, l. 1, &c. [back]
Note 4. Exerc. Spir. Max. 2, 3. [back]
Note 5. Ego vobis Romæ propitius ero. See F. Bouhours, b. 3. [back]
Note 6. There is another religious Order, very famous in Italy, established for the education of youth, called the Regular Clergy of the Schola Pia. The founder was F. Joseph Cazalana, a nobleman of Arragon. He took priestly orders in 1582, and, going to Rome, devoted himself with great fervour to the heroic practice of all good works, especially to the catechising and teaching of children. To propagate this design, he instituted a congregation of priests, approved by Paul V. in 1617, and declared a religious Order, with ample privileges, by Gregory XV. in 1621. These religions men bind themselves by a fourth vow, to labour in instructing children, especially the poor. The holy founder died in 1648, on the 25th of August. [back]
Note 7. He appointed no other habit than that used by the clergy in his time, the more decently and courteously to converse with all ranks of people, and because he instituted an Order only of regular clerks. He would not have his religious to keep choir, because he destined their time to evangelical functions. He ordered all, before they are admitted, to employ a month for a general confession and a spiritual exercise. After this, two years in a novitiate; then to take the simple vows of scholars, binding themselves to poverty, chastity, and obedience, which vows make them strictly religious men; for by them a person in this Order irrevocably consecrates himself to God on his side, though the Order does not bind itself absolutely to him, and the general has power to dismiss him; by which discharge he is freed from all obligation to the Society, his first vows being made under this condition. These simple vows are only made in the presence of domestics. The professed Jesuits make these same vows again (commonly after all their studies) but publicly, and without the former condition; so that these second are solemn vows, absolutely binding on both sides; wherefore, a professed Jesuit can be no more dismissed by his Order, so as to be discharged from his obligations by which he is tied to it. In these last is added a fourth vow of undertaking any missions, whether among the faithful or infidels, if enjoined them by the pope. There is a class of Jesuits who take the other vows, without this last relating to the missions; and these are called spiritual coadjutors. So this Order consists of four sorts of persons; scholars or Jesuits of the first vows; professed Jesuits or of the last or four vows; spiritual coadjutors, and temporal coadjutors.
No particular bodily mortifications are prescribed by the rule of the Society; but two most perfect practices of interior mortification are rigorously enjoined, on account of which Suarez, (t. 3, de Relig.) who treats at length of the obligations of their Order, calls it the most rigorous of religious Orders; the first is, the rule of Manifestation, by which every one is bound to discover his interior inclinations to his superior; the second is, that every Jesuit renounces his right to his own reputation with his superior, giving leave to every brother to inform immediately his superior of all his faults he knows, without observing the law of private correction first, which is a precept of fraternal charity, unless where a person has given up his right.
The general nominates the provincial and rectors; but he has five assistants nominated by the general congregation, who prepare all matters to his hands, each for the province of his assistency; and these have authority to call a general congregation to depose the general if he should evidently transgress the rules of the Society. Every provincial is obliged to write to the general once every month, and once in three years transmit to him an account of all the Jesuits in his province. The perfect form of government which is established, the wisdom, the unction, the zeal, and the consummate knowledge of men, which appear throughout all these constitutions, will be a perpetual manifest monument of the saint’s admirable penetration, judgment, and piety. He wrote his constitutions in Spanish, but they were translated into Latin by his secretary, Father John Polaneus. It is peculiar to the Society, that the religious, after their first vows, retain some time the dominion or property of their patrimony, without the administration (for this latter condition is now essential to a religious vow of poverty) till they make their renunciation.
St. Ignatius forbade the fathers of his society to undertake the direction of nunneries on the following occasion. In 1545, Isabel Rozella, a noble Spanish widow, and two others, with the approbation of Pope Paul III. put themselves under St. Ignatius’s direction, to live according to his rule; but he soon repented and procured from his Holiness, in 1547, the aforesaid prohibition, saying, that such a task took up all that time which he desired to dedicate to a more general good in serving many. When certain women in Flanders and Piedmont afterwards assembled in houses under vows and this rule, and called themselves Jesuitesses, their institute was abolished by Urban VIII. in 1631, the end and exercises of this Society not suiting that sex. [back]
Note 8. See his edifying life by Raderus and Sacchini. [back]
Note 9. Bouhours, l. 4. Orlandin. Hist. Soc. l. 7, c. 25. [back]
Note 10. The value of this treasure is enhanced by the elegant dress by which it is set off in the French translation of the Abbé Regnier des Marais, three volumes in 4to., four in 8vo., and six in 12mo. The devout Abbé Tricalet gave a good abridgment of this excellent work, printed in 1760. The translation of Rodriguez made by the gentlemen of Port-Royal is faulty in several places, particularly Tr. 1, c. 10. [back]
Note 11. Orland. Hist. Soc. l. 16. [back]
Note 12. Extant in Bartoli, l. 4, p. 372. [back]
Note 13. L. 4, n. 29, p. 335. [back]
Note 14. Bayle makes exceptions to the miracles of St. Ignatius because Ribadeneira, in the first life of this saint, which he wrote in 1572, inquires why his sanctity was not equally attested by wonderful miracles as that of the founders of some other Orders. “Quamobrem illius sanctitas minus est testata miraculis,” &c. But in this very edition, in the last chapter, p. 209, he writes: “Mihi tantum abest ut ad vitam Ignatii illustrandam miracula deesse videantur, ut multa eaque præstantissima judicem in mediâ luce versari.” He then recapitulates some facts which he had before related, and which he esteems miraculous, as a rapture in which the saint continued for eight days; so many wonderful, heavenly illuminations and revelations; the restoration of F. Simon, who lay dangerously sick, to his health, pursuant to his prediction; the wonderful deliverance of a demoniac; the cures of several sick persons; the foretelling many particular things to private persons, &c. The author republished this life in 1587, with some additions. He afterwards wrote a Latin abstract of this first life, in which he inserted many miracles. This he calls “Alteram breviorem vitam, sed multis ac novis miraculis auctam.” In this he tells us that he had before been more cautious in relating miracles, because they had not yet been examined and approved; but that he chose some which were esteemed miraculous, not in the opinion of the common people, but in the judgment of prudent persons. See this remark also in the Spanish abstract of this life, published in 1604; and in the Latin abstract, reprinted at Ipres in 1612. In his Spanish life of St. Ignatius, among his lives of saints, printed in 1604, he writes thus: “Though, when I first printed his life in 1572, I knew of some miracles of the holy father, I did not look upon them to be so verified (averiguados) as to think that I ought to publish them, which afterwards, by the authentical informations taken for his canonization, were proved true by credible witnesses; and the Lord, who is pleased to exalt him, and make him glorious on earth, works daily such miracles on his account as oblige me to relate part of them here, taken from the original juridical informations which several bishops have made, and from the depositions made upon oath by the persons on whom the miracles were wrought.” &c. (Ribad. Spanish Lives, p. 1124.) Moreover, Ribadeneira mentions in his first and second edition of this life, prophecies, revelations, visions, and the like miraculous favours, and he expressly distinguishes these from the gift of miracles, by which he means miraculous cures and the like, though the former may be justly placed in the general class of miracles. If the works of Ribadeneira on this subject be all carefully perused, it will be easy to discern the scrupulous accuracy of the author in this point; and the candid reader will be convinced how much some have misrepresented his testimony. Nor was he allowed to publish miracles before they had been approved, as the Council of Trent severely ordained. (Sess. 23, de Inv. Sanct.) See on it Julius Nigronius (Disp. Hist. de SS. Ignatio et Cajetano, n. 57,) and Pinius the Bollandist, in his confutation of this slander.
In the relation made in the secret consistory before Gregory XV. of miracles which had been examined and approved by the Cardinal à Monte and other commissaries, are mentioned the supernatural light shining on his face at prayer, upon the testimony of St. Philip Neri and F. Oliver Manerius. That St. Ignatius, by his blessing and prayer, cured one Bastida of the falling sickness, and the hand of a cook miserably burnt; delivered Pontanus from most violent temptations with which he had been grievously molested for two years, &c.; but the miracles which are chiefly attended to in a canonization, are those which have been performed after the person’s death. Of such, many manifest ones were approved, first by the Auditors of the Rota, and afterwards by the Congregation of Rites. Among these are mentioned the following: Isabel Rebelles, a nun of Barcelona, sixty-seven years old, in 1601, had broken her thigh-bone; and being attended by a physician and surgeon during forty days, and under grievous pains and a violent fever, was expected to die that night, and given over as to all natural remedies, when, by applying a relic of St. Ignatius, and saying the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary, with an invocation of this saint, the swelling of the thigh and leg went down, she found herself able to stir both, and without any pain; and calling for her clothes she got up, walked perfectly, and with ease, and felt no more of her complaint, not even at new moons or in the dampest seasons. Anne Barozellona, at Valadolid, almost sixty years old, was cured of a desperate palsy by invoking St. Ignatius, with a vow to perform a novena. A widow who had lost her sight in both her eyes, recovered it by recommending herself to the prayers of St. Ignatius, and touching her eyes with a relic, &c. P. Jos. Juvency (Hist. Soc. Jesu, l. 15, part 5, § 9,) has selected and related many like miracles of St. Ignatius. F. Daniel Bartoli, in his life of this saint, has given a history of a hundred such miracles. (l. 5.) See also the great collection made by F. Pinius, the continuator of Bollandus.
Though Cardinal Pole thought circumstances did not allow him to make any settlement for Jesuits in England, as the author of the Monastic History of Ireland and others take notice, that great and holy man highly esteemed St. Ignatius and his institute. See a letter of St. Ignatius to Cardinal Pole, dated at Rome, 24th of January, 1555, and that cardinal’s answer to him from Richmond, 8th of May; and another from London, 15th of December the same year; also his letter of condolence to F. Lainez upon the death of St. Ignatius, dated at London, 15th of November, 1556, published among the letters of Cardinal Pole, collected by Cardinal Querini at Brescia, t. 5, pp. 117, 118, 119, 120, 121. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Ignatius Loyola
Youngest son of Don Beltrán Yañez de Oñez y Loyola and Marina Saenz de Lieona y Balda (the name López de Recalde, though accepted by the Bollandist Father Pien, is a copyist's blunder).
Born in 1491 at the castle of Loyola above Azpeitia in Guipuscoa; died at Rome, 31 July, 1556. The family arms are: per pale, or, seven bends gules (?vert) for Oñez; argent, pot and chain sable between two grey wolves rampant, for Loyola. The saint was baptized Iñigo, after St. Enecus (Innicus), Abbot of Oña: the name Ignatius was assumed in later years, while he was residing in Rome. For the saint's genealogy, see Pérez (op. cit. below, 131); Michel (op. cit. below, II, 383); Polanco (Chronicon, I, 51646). For the date of birth cfr. Astráin, I, 3 S.
At an early age he was made a cleric. We do not know when, or why he was released from clerical obligations. He was brought up in the household of Juan Velásquez de Cuellar, contador mayor to Ferdinand and Isabella, and in his suite probably attended the court from time to time, though not in the royal service. This was perhaps the time of his greatest dissipation and laxity. He was affected and extravagant about his hair and dress, consumed with the desire of winning glory, and would seem to have been sometimes involved in those darker intrigues, for which handsome young courtiers too often think themselves licensed. How far he went on the downward course is still unproved. The balance of evidence tends to show that his own subsequent humble confessions of having been a great sinner should not be treated as pious exaggerations. But we have no details, not even definite charges. In 1517 a change for the better seems to have taken place; Velásquez died and Ignatius took service in the army. The turning-point of his life came in 1521. While the French were besieging the citadel of Pampeluna, a cannon ball, passing between Ignatius' legs, tore open the left calf and broke the right shin (Whit-Tuesday, 20 May, 1521). With his fall the garrison lost heart and surrendered, but he was well treated by the French and carried on a litter to Loyola, where his leg had to be rebroken and reset, and afterwards a protruding end of the bone was sawn off, and the limb, having been shortened by clumsy setting, was stretched out by weights. All these pains were undergone voluntarily, without uttering a cry or submitting to be bound. But the pain and weakness which followed were so great that the patient began to fail and sink. On the eve of Sts. Peter and Paul, however, a turn for the better took place, and he threw off his fever.
So far Ignatius had shown none but the ordinary virtues of the Spanish officer. His dangers and sufferings has doubtless done much to purge his soul, but there was no idea yet of remodelling his life on any higher ideals. Then, in order to divert the weary hours of convalescence, he asked for the romances of chivalry, his favourite reading, but there were none in the castle, and instead they brought him the lives of Christ and of the saints, and he read them in the same quasi-competitive spirit with which he read the achievements of knights and warriors. "Suppose I were to rival this saint in fasting, that one in endurance, that other in pilgrimages." He would then wander off into thoughts of chivalry, and service to fair ladies, especially to one of high rank, whose name is unknown. Then all of a sudden, he became conscious that the after-effect of these dreams was to make him dry and dissatisfied, while the ideas of falling into rank among the saints braced and strengthened him, and left him full of joy and peace. Next it dawned on him that the former ideas were of the world, the latter God-sent; finally, worldly thoughts began to lose their hold, while heavenly ones grew clearer and dearer. One night as he lay awake, pondering these new lights, "he saw clearly", so says his autobiography, "the image of Our Lady with the Holy Child Jesus", at whose sight for a notable time he felt a reassuring sweetness, which eventually left him with such a loathing of his past sins, and especially for those of the flesh, that every unclean imagination seemed blotted out from his soul, and never again was there the least consent to any carnal thought. His conversion was now complete. Everyone noticed that he would speak of nothing but spiritual things, and his elder brother begged him not to take any rash or extreme resolution, which might compromise the honour of their family.
Spiritual formation (1522-24)
When Ignatius left Loyola he had no definite plans for the future, except that he wished to rival all the saints had done in the way of penance. His first care was to make a general confession at the famous sanctuary of Montserrat, where, after three days of self-examination, and carefully noting his sins, he confessed, gave to the poor the rich clothes in which he had come, and put on garment of sack-cloth reaching to his feet. His sword and dagger he suspended at Our Lady's altar, and passed the night watching before them. Next morning, the feast of the Annunciation, 1522, after Communion, he left the sanctuary, not knowing whither he went. But he soon fell in with a kind woman, Iñes Pascual, who showed him a cavern near the neighbouring town of Manresa, where he might retire for prayer, austerities, and contemplation, while he lived on alms. But here, instead of obtaining greater peace, he was consumed with the most troublesome scruples. Had he confessed this sin? Had he omitted that circumstance? At one time he was violently tempted to end his miseries by suicide, on which he resolved neither to eat nor to drink (unless his life was in danger), until God granted him the peace which he desired, and so he continued until his confessor stopped him at the end of the week. At last, however, he triumphed over all obstacles, and then abounded in wonderful graces and visions.
It was at this time, too, that he began to make notes of his spiritual experiences, notes which grew into the little book of "The Spiritual Exercises". God also afflicted him with severe sicknesses, when he was looked after by friends in the public hospital; for many felt drawn towards him, and he requited their many kind offices by teaching them how to pray and instructing them in spiritual matters. Having recovered health, and acquired sufficient experience to guide him in his new life, he commenced his long-meditated migration to the Holy Land. From the first he had looked forward to it as leading to a life of heroic penance; now he also regarded it as a school in which he might learn how to realize clearly and to conform himself perfectly to Christ's life. The voyage was fully as painful as he had conceived. Poverty, sickness, exposure, fatigue, starvation, dangers of shipwreck and capture, prisons, blows, contradictions, these were his daily lot; and on his arrival the Franciscans, who had charge of the holy places, commanded him to return under pain of sin. Ignatius demanded what right they had thus to interfere with a pilgrim like himself, and the friars explained that, to prevent many troubles which had occurred in finding ransoms for Christian prisoners, the pope had given them the power and they offered to show him their Bulls. Ignatius at once submitted, though it meant altering his whole plan of life, refused to look at the proferred Bulls, and was back at Barcelona about March, 1524.
Studies and companions (1521-39)
Ignatius left Jerusalem in the dark as to his future and "asking himself as he went, quid agendum" (Autobiography, 50). Eventually he resolved to study, in order to be of greater help to others. To studies he therefore gave eleven years, more than a third of his remaining life. Later he studied among school-boys at Barcelona, and early in 1526 he knew enough to proceed to his philosophy at the University of Alcalá. But here he met with many troubles to be described later, and at the end of 1527 he entered the University of Salamanca, whence, his trials continuing, he betook himself to Paris (June, 1528), and there with great method repeated his course of arts, taking his M.A. on 14 March, 1535. Meanwhile theology had been begun, and he had taken the licentiate in 1534; the doctorate he never took, as his health compelled him to leave Paris in March, 1535. Though Ignatius, despite his pains, acquired no great erudition, he gained many practical advantages from his course of education. To say nothing of knowledge sufficient to find such information as he needed afterwards to hold his own in the company of the learned, and to control others more erudite than himself, he also became thoroughly versed in the science of education, and learned by experience how the life of prayer and penance might be combined with that of teaching and study, an invaluable acquirement to the future founder of the Society of Jesus. The labours of Ignatius for others involved him in trials without number. At Barcelona, he was beaten senseless, and his companion killed, at the instigation of some worldlings vexed at being refused entrance into a convent which he had reformed. At Alcalá, a meddlesome inquisitor, Figueroa, harassed him constantly, and once automatically imprisoned him for two months. This drove him to Salamanca, where, worse still, he was thrown into the common prison, fettered by the foot to his companion Calisto, which indignity only drew from Ignatius the characteristic words, "There are not so many handcuffs and chains in Salamanca, but that I desire even more for the love of God."
In Paris his trials were very varied — from poverty, plague, works of charity, and college discipline, on which account he was once sentenced to a public flogging by Dr. Govea, the rector of Collège Ste-Barbe, but on his explaining his conduct, the rector as publicly begged his pardon. There was but one delation to the inquisitors, and, on Ignatius requesting a prompt settlement, the Inquisitor Ori told him proceedings were therewith quashed.
We notice a certain progression in Ignatius' dealing with accusations against him. The first time he allowed them to cease without any pronouncement being given in his favour. The second time he demurred at Figueroa wanting to end in this fashion. The third time, after sentence had been passed, he appealed to the Archbishop of Toledo against some of its clauses. Finally he does not await sentence, but goes at once to the judge to urge an inquiry, and eventually he made it his practice to demand sentence, whenever reflection was cast upon his orthodoxy. (Records of Ignatius' legal proceedings at Azpeitia, in 1515; at Alcal´ in 1526, 1527; at Venice, 1537; at Rome in 1538, will be found in "Scripta de S. Ignatio", pp. 580-620.) Ignatius had now for the third time gathered companions around him. His first followers in Spain had persevered for a time, even amid the severe trials of imprisonment, but instead of following Ignatius to Paris, as they had agreed to do, they gave him up. In Paris too the first to follow did not persevere long, but of the third band not one deserted him. They were (St.) Peter Faber, a Genevan Savoyard; (St.) Francis Xavier, of Navarre; James Laynez, Alonso Salmerón, and Nicolás Bobadilla, Spaniards; Simón Rodríguez, a Portuguese. Three others joined soon after — Claude Le Jay, a Genevan Savoyard; Jean Codure and Paschase Broët, French. Progress is to be noted in the way Ignatius trained his companions. The first were exercised in the same severe exterior mortifications, begging, fasting, going barefoot, etc., which the saint was himself practising. But though this discipline had prospered in a quiet country place like Manresa, it had attracted an objectionable amount of criticism at the University of Alcalá. At Paris dress and habits were adapted to the life in great towns; fasting, etc., was reduced; studies and spiritual exercises were multiplied, and alms funded.
The only bond between Ignatius' followers so far was devotion to himself, and his great ideal of leading in the Holy Land a life as like as possible to Christ's. On 15 August, 1534, they took the vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre (probably near the modern Chapelle de St-Denys, Rue Antoinette), and a third vow to go to the Holy Land after two years, when their studies were finished. Six months later Ignatius was compelled by bad health to return to his native country, and on recovery made his way slowly to Bologna, where, unable through ill health to study, he devoted himself to active works of charity till his companions came from Paris to Venice (6 January, 1537) on the way to the Holy Land. Finding further progress barred by the war with the Turks, they now agreed to await for a year the opportunity of fulfilling their vow, after which they would put themselves at the pope's disposal. Faber and some others, going to Rome in Lent, got leave for all to be ordained. They were eventually made priests on St. John Baptist's day. But Ignatius took eighteen months to prepare for his first Mass.
Foundation of the society
By the winter of 1537, the year of waiting being over, it was time to offer their services to the pope. The others being sent in pairs to neighboring university towns, Ignatius with Faber and Laynez started for Rome. At La Storta, a few miles before reaching the city, Ignatius had a noteworthy vision. He seemed to see the Eternal Father associating him with His Son, who spoke the words: Ego vobis Romae propitius ero. Many have thought this promise simply referred to the subsequent success of the order there. Ignatius' own interpretation was characteristic: "I do not know whether we shall be crucified in Rome; but Jesus will be propitious." Just before or just after this, Ignatius had suggested for the title of their brotherhood "The Company of Jesus". Company was taken in its military sense, and in those days a company was generally known by its captain's name. In the Latin Bull of foundation, however, they were called "Societas Jesu". We first hear of the term Jesuit in 1544, applied as a term of reproach by adversaries. It had been used in the fifteenth century to describe in scorn someone who cantingly interlarded his speech with repetitions of the Holy Name. In 1522 it was still regarded as a mark of scorn, but before very long the friends of the society saw that they could take it in a good sense, and, though never used by Ignatius, it was readily adopted (Pollen, "The Month", June, 1909). Paul III having received the fathers favourably, all were summoned to Rome to work under the pope's eyes. At this critical moment an active campaign of slander was opened by one Fra Matteo Mainardi (who eventually died in open heresy), and a certain Michael who had been refused admission to the order. It was not till 18 November, 1538, that Ignatius obtained from the governor of Rome an honourable sentence, still extent, in his favour. The thoughts of the fathers were naturally occupied with a formula of their intended mode of life to submit to the pope; and in March, 1539, they began to meet in the evenings to settle the matter.
Hitherto without superior, rule or tradition, they had prospered most remarkably. Why not continue as they had begun? The obvious answer was that without some sort of union, some houses for training postulants, they were practically doomed to die out with the existing members, for the pope already desired to send them about as missioners from place to place. This point was soon agreed to, but when the question arose whether they should, by adding a vow of obedience to their existing vows, form themselves into a compact religious order, or remain, as they were, a congregation of secular priests, opinions differed much and seriously. Not only had they done so well without strict rules, but (to mention only one obstacle, which was in fact not overcome afterwards without great difficulty), there was the danger, if they decided for an order, that the pope might force them to adopt some ancient rule, which would mean the end of all their new ideas. The debate on this point continued for several weeks, but the conclusion in favour of a life under obedience was eventually reached unanimously. After this, progress was faster, and by 24 June some sixteen resolutions had been decided on, covering the main points of the proposed institute. Thence Ignatius drew up in five sections the first "Formula Instituti", which was submitted to the pope, who gave a viva voce approbation 3 September, 1539, but Cardinal Guidiccioni, the head of the commission appointed to report on the "Formula", was of the view that a new order should not be admitted, and with that the chances of approbation seemed to be at an end. Ignatius and his companions, undismayed, agreed to offer up 4000 Masses to obtain the object desired, and after some time the cardinal unexpectedly changed his mind, approved the "Formula" and the Bull "Regimini militantis Ecclesiae" (27 September, 1540), which embodies and sanctions it, was issued, but the members were not to exceed sixty (this clause was abrogated after two years). In April, 1541, Ignatius was, in spite of his reluctance, elected the first general, and on 22 April he and his companions made their profession in St. Paul Outside the Walls. The society was now fully constituted.
The book of the spiritual exercises
This work originated in Ignatius' experiences, while he was at Loyola in 1521, and the chief meditations were probably reduced to their present shapes during his life at Manresa in 1522, at the end of which period he had begun to teach them to others. In the process of 1527 at Salamanca, they are spoken of for the first time as the "Book of Exercises". The earliest extant text is of the year 1541. At the request of St. Francis Borgia. The book was examined by papal censors and a solemn approbation given by Paul III in the Brief "Pastoralis Officii" of 1548. "The Spiritual Exercises" are written very concisely, in the form of a handbook for the priest who is to explain them, and it is practically impossible to describe them without making them, just as it might be impossible to explain Nelson's "Sailing Orders" to a man who knew nothing of ships or the sea. The idea of the work is to help the exercitant to find out what the will of God is in regard to his future, and to give him energy and courage to follow that will. The exercitant (under ideal circumstances) is guided through four weeks of meditations: the first week on sin and its consequences, the second on Christ's life on earth, the third on his passion, the fourth on His risen life; and a certain number of instructions (called "rules", "additions", "notes") are added to teach him how to pray, how to avoid scruples, how to elect a vocation in life without being swayed by the love of self or of the world. In their fullness they should, according to Ignatius' idea, ordinarily be made once or twice only; but in part (from three to four days) they may be most profitably made annually, and are now commonly called "retreats", from the seclusion or retreat from the world in which the exercitant lives. More popular selections are preached to the people in church and are called "missions". The stores of spiritual wisdom contained in the "Book of Exercises" are truly astonishing, and their author is believed to have been inspired while drawing them up. (See also next section.) Sommervogel enumerates 292 writers among the Jesuits alone, who have commented on the whole book, to say nothing of commentators on parts (e.g. the meditations), who are far more numerous still. But the best testimony to the work is the frequency with which the exercises are made. In England (for which alone statistics are before the writer) the educated people who make retreats number annually about 22,000, while the number who attend popular expositions of the Exercises in "missions" is approximately 27,000, out of a total Catholic population of 2,000,000.
The constitutions of the society
Ignatius was commissioned in 1541 to draw them up, but he did not begin to do so until 1547, having occupied the mean space with introducing customs tentatively, which were destined in time to become laws. In 1547 Father Polanco became his secretary, and with his intelligent aid the first draft of the constitutions was made between 1547 and 1550, and simultaneously pontifical approbation was asked for a new edition of the "Formula". Julius III conceded this by the Bull "Exposcit debitum", 21 July, 1550. At the same time a large number of the older fathers assembled to peruse the first draft of the constitutions, and though none of them made any serious objections, Ignatius' next recension (1552) shows a fair amount of changes. This revised version was then published and put into force throughout the society, a few explanations being added here and there to meet difficulties as they arose. These final touches were being added by the saint up till the time of his death, after which the first general congregation of the society ordered them to be printed, and they have never been touched since. The true way of appreciating the constitutions of the society is to study them as they are carried into practice by the Jesuits themselves, and for this, reference may be made to the articles on the SOCIETY OF JESUS. A few points, however, in which Ignatius' institute differed from the older orders may be mentioned here. They are:
- the vow not to accept ecclesiastical dignities;
- increased probations. The novitiate is prolonged from one year to two, with a third year, which usually falls after the priesthood. Candidates are moreover at first admitted to simple vows only, solemn vows coming much later on;
- the Society does not keep choir;
- it does not have a distinctive religious habit;
- it does not accept the direction of convents;
- it is not governed by a regular triennial chapter;
- it is also said to have been the first order to undertake officially and by virtue of its constitutions active works such as the following:
- foreign missions, at the pope's bidding;
- the education of youth of all classes;
- the instruction of the ignorant and the poor;
- ministering to the sick, to prisoners, etc.
The above points give no conception of the originality with which Ignatius has handled all parts of his subject, even those common to all orders. It is obvious that he must have acquired some knowledge of other religious constitutions, especially during the years of inquiry (1541-1547), when he was on terms of intimacy with religious of every class. But witnesses, who attended him, tell us that he wrote without any books before him except the Missal. Though his constitutions of course embody technical terms to be found in other rules, and also a few stock phrases like "the old man's staff", and "the corpse carried to any place", the thought is entirely original, and would seem to have been God-guided throughout. By a happy accident we still possess his journal of prayers for forty days, during which he was deliberating the single point of poverty in churches. It shows that in making up his mind he was marvelously aided by heavenly lights, intelligence, and visions. If, as we may surely infer, the whole work was equally assisted by grace, its heavenly inspiration will not be doubtful. The same conclusion is probable true of "The Spiritual".
Later life and death
The later years of Ignatius were spent in partial retirement, the correspondence inevitable in governing the Society leaving no time for those works of active ministry which in themselves he much preferred. His health too began to fail. In 1551, when he had gathered the elder fathers to revise the constitutions, he laid his resignation of the generalate in their hands, but they refused to accept it then or later, when the saint renewed his prayer. In 1554 Father Nadal was given the powers of vicar-general, but it was often necessary to send him abroad as commissary, and in the end Ignatius continued, with Polanco's aid, to direct everything. With most of his first companions he had to part soon. Rodríguez started on 5 March, 1540, for Lisbon, where he eventually founded the Portuguese province, of which he was made provincial on 10 October, 1546. St. Francis Xavier followed Rodríguez immediately, and became provincial of India in 1549. In September, 1541, Salmeron and Broet started for their perilous mission to Ireland, which they reached (via Scotland) next Lent. But Ireland, the prey to Henry VIII's barbarous violence, could not give the zealous missionaries a free field for the exercise of the ministries proper to their institute. All Lent they passed in Ulster, flying from persecutors, and doing in secret such good as they might. With difficulty they reached Scotland, and regained Rome, Dec., 1542. The beginnings of the Society in Germany are connected with St. Peter Faber, Blessed Peter Canisius, Le Jay, and Bobadilla in 1542. In 1546 Laynez and Salmeron were nominated papal theologians for the Council of Trent, where Canisius, Le Jay, and Covillon also found places. In 1553 came the picturesque, but not very successful mission of Nuñez Barretto as Patriarch of Abyssinia. For all these missions Ignatius wrote minute instructions, many of which are still extant. He encouraged and exhorted his envoys in their work by his letters, while the reports they wrote back to him form our chief source of information on the missionary triumphs achieved. Though living alone in Rome, it was he who in effect led, directed, and animated his subjects all the world over.
The two most painful crosses of this period were probably the suits with Isabel Roser and Simón Rodríguez. The former lady had been one of Ignatius' first and most esteemed patronesses during his beginnings in Spain. She came to Rome later on and persuaded Ignatius to receive a vow of obedience to him, and she was afterwards joined by two or three other ladies. But the saint found that the demands they made on his time were more than he could possibly allow them. "They caused me more trouble", he is reported to have said, "than the whole of the Society", and he obtained from the pope a relaxation of the vow he had accepted. A suit with Roser followed, which she lost, and Ignatius forbade his sons hereafter to become ex officio directors to convents of nuns (Scripta de S. Ignatio, pp. 652-5). Painful though this must have been to a man so loyal as Ignatius, the difference with Rodríguez, one of his first companions, must have been more bitter still. Rodríguez had founded the Province of Portugal, and brought it in a short time to a high state of efficiency. But his methods were not precisely those of Ignatius, and, when new men of Ignatius' own training came under him, differences soon made themselves felt. A struggle ensued in which Rodríguez unfortunately took sides against Ignatius' envoys. The results for the newly formed province were disastrous. Well-nigh half of its members had to be expelled before peace was established; but Ignatius did not hesitate. Rodriguez having been recalled to Rome, the new provincial being empowered to dismiss him if he refused, he demanded a formal trial, which Ignatius, foreseeing the results, endeavoured to ward off. But on Simón's insistence a full court of inquiry was granted, whose proceedings are now printed and it unanimously condemned Rodriguez to penance and banishment from the province (Scripta etc., pp. 666-707). Of all his external works, those nearest his heart, to judge by his correspondence, were the building and foundation of the Roman College (1551), and of the German College (1552). For their sake he begged, worked, and borrowed with splendid insistence until his death. The success of the first was ensured by the generosity of St. Francis Borgia, before he entered the Society. The latter was still in a struggling condition when Ignatius died, but his great ideas have proved the true and best foundation of both.
In the summer of 1556 the saint was attacked by Roman fever. His doctors did not foresee any serious consequences, but the saint did. On 30 July, 1556, he asked for the last sacraments and the papal blessing, but he was told that no immediate danger threatened. Next morning at daybreak, the infirmarian found him lying in peaceful prayer, so peaceful that he did not at once perceive that the saint was actually dying. When his condition was realized, the last blessing was given, but the end came before the holy oils could be fetched. Perhaps he had prayed that his death, like his life, might pass without any demonstration. He was beatified by Paul V on 27 July, 1609, and canonized by Gregory XV on 22 May, 1622. His body lies under the altar designed by Pozzi in the Gesù. Though he died in the sixteenth year from the foundation of the Society, that body already numbered about 1000 religious (of whom, however, only 35 were yet professed) with 100 religious houses, arranged in 10 provinces. (Sacchini, op. cit. infra., lib. 1, cc. i, nn. 1-20.) For his place in history see COUNTER-REFORMATION. It is impossible to sketch in brief Ignatius' grand and complex character: ardent yet restrained, fearless, resolute, simple, prudent, strong, and loving. The Protestant and Jansenistic conception of him as a restless, bustling pragmatist bears no correspondence at all with the peacefulness and perseverance which characterized the real man. That he was a strong disciplinarian is true. In a young and rapidly growing body that was inevitable; and the age loved strong virtues. But if he believed in discipline as an educative force, he despised any other motives for action except the love of God and man. It was by studying Ignatius as a ruler that Xavier learnt the principle, "the company of Jesus ought to be called the company of love and conformity of souls". (Ep., 12 Jan., 1519).
Pollen, J.H. (1910). St. Ignatius Loyola. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved August 1, 2016 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07639c.htm
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Marie Jutras.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Founder of the Society of Jesus, Confessor—1491-1556
Feast: July 31
St. Ignatius of Loyola, with his new and dynamic conception of the religious life, has left an impress on the Church unparalleled in modern times. The founder of the Society of Jesus was a pragmatic idealist who devoted his mature years to revitalizing Catholicism and meeting the challenge of the Protestant Reformation. He was born on December 24, 1491, the year before Columbus discovered a New World and claimed it for Ferdinand and Isabella. His birthplace was the great castle of Loyola in Guipuzcoa, in the Basque country of northwest Spain. Both his father, Don Beltran, lord of Onaz and Loyola, and his mother were of ancient and illustrious lineage. There were three daughters and eight sons in the family, and Inigo, as Ignatius was christened, was the youngest. He was a slight, handsome, high-spirited boy, with the Spaniard's pride, physical courage, and ardent passion for glory. As a youth, Inigo was sent by his father to go and live in the household of Juan Velasquez de Cuellar, one of King Ferdinand's provincial governors, at Arevalo, a town of Castile. Here he remained for many years, but like most young men of his class, he was taught little more than how to be a good soldier, an accomplished horseman and courtier. This long period of training, inculcating the soldierly virtues of discipline, obedience, and prudence, probably exerted some influence on the form and general tone of the society he founded. When he was twenty-five, he enlisted under a kinsman, the Duke of Najera, saw service in border warfare against the French in northern Castile and Navarre, and won a captaincy. The event that utterly changed the course of his life was the defense of the fortress of Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre. During this hotly contested battle, which Inigo led, he showed great bravery against heavy odds, but when he was hit by a cannon ball that broke his right shin, the Spanish capitulated. The French looked after the young captain's wounds and then sent him in a litter to his father's castle, some fifty miles away. The shattered bone, badly set, was now rebroken and set again, a crude operation which left the end of a bone protruding. Anaesthesia was still in the distant future, and Inigo endured this, as well as having the bone sawed off, without being bound or held. Afterwards his right leg was always shorter than the left.
One day, while he was confined to his bed, he asked his sister-in-law for a popular romantic book, <Amadis of Gaul>, to while away the hours. This book about knights and their valorous deeds could not be found, and instead he was given <The Golden Legend>, a collection of stories of the saints, and a <Life of Christ>. He began to read with faint interest, but gradually became so immersed and so moved that he spent entire days reading and rereading these books. He had fallen in love with a certain lady of the court; he also at this time retained his strong feeling for knightly deeds. Now he gradually came to realize the vanity of these worldly passions and his dependence on things of the spirit. He observed that the thoughts which came from God filled him with peace and tranquillity, while the others, though they might delight him briefly, left his heart heavy. This cleavage, as he was to write in his book< Spiritual Exercises>, helps one to distinguish the spirit of God from that of the world. Towards the end of his convalescence he reached the point of dedication; henceforth he would fight for victory on the battlefield of the spirit, and achieve glory as the saints had done.
He began to discipline his body, rising at midnight to spend hours mourning for his sins. How grave these sins may have been we do not know, but as a young soldier he may well have shared in the loose and careless life around him. His eldest brother, Don Martin, who on the death of their father had become lord of Loyola, now returned from the wars. He tried his best to keep Inigo in the world, for he needed the strength and intelligence of this young brother in the management of their great estate. Inigo, however, was now set on his course. As soon as his condition permitted, he mounted a mule and went on pilgrimage, always the great resource of persons in trouble or in a state of indecision, to Our Lady of Montserrat, a shrine in the mountains above Barcelona. One episode of this journey shows us that his understanding of Catholicism was still far from perfect. He fell in with a Moorish horseman, and as they jogged along they talked of their respective faiths. When the Moslem spoke slightingly of the Virgin Mary, Inigo was aroused to fury. After the two had angrily separated at a certain crossroad, Inigo let the mule follow its own bent: if it took the road towards Montserrat, he would forget the Moor; if it followed after him, he would fight and, if possible, kill the man. The mule, we are told, providentially took the road that led to the pilgrimage place. On arriving, Inigo took off his rich attire, left his sword at the altar, donned the pilgrim's sackcloth, provided himself with a staff and gourd. After full Confession, he took a vow to lead henceforth a life of penance and devotion to God. He soon met a holy man, Inez Pascual, who became his lifelong friend. A few miles away was the small town of Manresa, where Inigo retired to a cave for prayer and penance. He lived in the cave, on alms, through most of the year 1522.
As frequently happens, exaltation was followed by trials of doubt and fear. Depressed and sad, Inigo was at times tempted to suicide. He began noting down his inner experiences and insights, and these notes slowly developed into his famous book, Spiritual Exercises. At length his peace of mind was fully restored and his soul again overflowed with joy. From this experience came the wisdom that helped him to understand and cure other men's troubled consciences. Years later he told his successor in the Society of Jesus, Father Laynez, that he learned more of divine mysteries in one hour of prayer at Manresa than all the doctors of the schools could ever have taught him. In February, 1523, Ignatius, as he was henceforth known, started on a long-anticipated journey to the Holy Land, where he proposed to labor and preach. He took ship from Barcelona and spent Easter at Rome, sailed from Venice to Cyprus and thence to Jaffa. His zeal was so conspicuous as he visited the scenes of Christ's life that the Franciscan Guardian of the Holy Places ordered him to depart, lest he antagonize the fanatical Turks and be kidnapped and held for ransom. He returned to Barcelona by way of Venice. Feeling the need of more education, he entered a class in elementary Latin grammar, since all serious works were then written in Latin. A pious lady of the city, Isabel Roser, helped to support him. At thirty-three, he found the study of Latin difficult. His life as a soldier as well as his more recent period of retirement had prepared him poorly for such an undertaking. Only by viewing his concentration on religion as a temptation was he able to make progress. He bore with good humor the taunts of his school fellows. After two years of study at Barcelona Ignatius went to the University of Alcala, near Madrid, newly founded by the Grand Inquisitor, Ximenes de Cisneros. He attended lectures in logic, physics, and theology, and though he worked hard he learned little. Living at a hospice for poor students, he wore a coarse gray habit and begged his food. A part of his time was spent in holding services in the hospice and in teaching children the Catechism. Sinof. he had no training or authority for this, the vicar-general accused him of presumption and had him imprisoned for six weeks. At the end of that time the vicar declared Ignatius innocent and released him, but still forbade him to give instruction in religion for three years or to wear any distinguishing dress. On the advice of the archbishop of Toledo, Ignatius went to the ancient University of Salamanca. Here too, mainly because he could not temper his zeal for reform, he was suspected of harboring dangerous ideas. The vicar-general of Salamanca imprisoned him for a time, and afterward pronounced him innocent, orthodox, and a person of sincere goodness. Ignatius looked upon these sufferings as trials by which God was sanctifying his soul, and spoke no word against his persecutors. However, on recovering his liberty, he resolved to leave Spain, and in the middle of winter traveled on foot to Paris, where he arrived in February, 1528. He studied at the College of Montaigu and later at the College of St. Barbara, where he perfected himself in Latin, and then took the undergraduate course in philosophy. In his vacations he went to Flanders, and once or twice over to England, to ask help of Spanish merchants who had settled there. For three and a half years he studied philosophy; but such was his desire to make the Catholic religion a vital force in men's lives that he was never content to be merely a student. He persuaded a few of his fellows, most of them much younger than himself, to spend their Sundays and holy days with him in prayer, and also to engage in good works on behalf of others. Several of these men were to form the inner core of the Society of Jesus. The highly conservative authorities were not slow in asserting themselves. Pegna, a master, thought these activities interfered with studying and complained of Ignatius to Govea, principal of the college. As a result, Ignatius was to be punished by a public flogging, that his disgrace might deter anyone from following his example. He was ready to suffer all things, but he feared that this scandal and his condemnation as a corrupter of youth would make the young souls he had reclaimed lose faith in him. He therefore went to the principal and modestly explained what he was trying to do. Govea listened intently, and, when Ignatius had finished, took him by the hand and led him into the hall where the whole college was assembled. There he turned and asked Ignatius' pardon, and said he now knew that Ignatius had no other aim than the salvation of souls. After this dramatic vindication, Pegna appointed another student, Peter Faber, to assist him in his studies, and with his help Ignatius finished the course in philosophy, took the degree of Master of Arts in 1535, and began work in theology. Ill health prevented him from going on to his doctorate. By this time six other students of theology at Paris were associating themselves regularly with him in what he called his Spiritual Exercises. They were Peter Faber, Francis Xavier, a young Spaniard of noble family, Nicholas Bobadilla, Diego Laynez and Alfonso Salmeron, also Spaniards and fine scholars, and Simon Rodriguez, a Portuguese. They now agreed to take a vow of perpetual poverty and chastity and, as soon as their studies were completed, preach in Palestine, or, if that proved impossible, to offer themselves to the Pope to be used as he saw fit. This vow they solemnly took in a chapel on Montmartre on the feast of the Assumption in August, 1534, after having received Communion from Peter Faber, who had recently been ordained priest. Not long after, Ignatius went back to his native land for the sake of his health. He left Paris in the beginning of the year 1535, and was joyfully welcomed in Guipuzcoa. Instead of staying in his family's castle, however, he took up quarters in a hospital nearby, where he went on with his work of teaching Christian doctrine. The seven men did not lose touch with one another and two years later they all met in Venice. Because of the war then raging between the Venetians and the Turks, they could find no ship sailing for Palestine. Ignatius' companions now went to Rome, where Pope Paul III received them graciously, and gave those who were not yet priests permission to receive Holy Orders from any bishop they pleased. All having been ordained, they retired together to a cottage near Vicenza to prepare themselves by fasting and prayer for taking up the ministry of the altar. Soon all had said Mass save Ignatius, who deferred the step until he had spent over a year in preparation. He said Mass for the first time in Rome, in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, December, 1538, more than fifteen years after his "conversion." Still unable to go to the Holy Land, they resolved to place their services at the disposal of the Pope. If anyone asked what their association was, they would reply, "the Company of Jesus," for their purpose was to fight against heresy and vice, apathy and decadence, under the standard of Christ. While praying in a little chapel at La Storta, on the road to Rome, Ignatius had a vision. God appeared, commending him to His Son, who shone radiantly beside Him, though burdened with a heavy cross, and a voice said, "I will be helpful to you at Rome." On this second visit, the Pope did in fact receive them cordially and accepted their services: Faber was appointed to teach the Scriptures and Laynez to expound theology in the Sapienza, and Ignatius to continue to develop his Spiritual Expercises and to teach among the people. The four remaining members were assigned to other employment. With a view to perpetuating and defining their ideas, it was now proposed that the seven form themselves into a religious order with a rule and organization of their own. After prayer and deliberation, they all agreed to this, and resolved to add to the vows of poverty and chastity a third vow, that of perpetual soldierly obedience. At their head should be a general who should hold office for life, with absolute authority over every member, himself subject only to the Pope. A fourth vow should require them to go wherever the Pope might send them for the salvation of souls. Professed Jesuits could own no real estate or revenues, either as individuals or in common; but their colleges might use incomes and rent for the maintenance of students. The teaching of the Catechism was to be one of their special duties. The cardinals appointed by the Pope to examine the new organization were at first inclined to disapprove it, on the ground that there were already too many orders in the Church. Eventually they changed their minds, and Pope Paul approved it by a bull, dated September 27, 1540. Ignatius, unanimously chosen general on April 7, 1541, reluctantly accepted the office in obedience to his confessor. A few days later his brothers all took the full vows, in the basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls. Ignatius set himself to write out the constitutions of the Society. Its aims were to be, first, the sanctification of their own souls by a union of the active and the contemplative life; and, secondly, instructing youth in piety and learning, acting as confessors of uneasy consciences, undertaking missions abroad, and in general propagating the faith. They should wear the dress of the secular clergy. They should not be compelled to keep choir, because their special business was evangelical work, not the services of the cloister. Before anyone could be admitted he must make a general Confession, spend a month going through the Spiritual Exercises, then serve a novitiate of two years, after which he might take the simple vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. By these vows he consecrated himself irrevocably to God, but the general still had power to dismiss him. Dismissal, if it came, would free him from all obligation to the Society. The higher rank of Jesuits, called the "professed," after more years of study, took the same vows again, but this time publicly and with no reservations; they were forever binding on both sides. To them was added a vow to undertake any mission, whether to Christians or to infidels, at the Pope's command. Ignatius was now fifty years old. The remainder of his life was passed in Rome, where he directed the activities of the Society of Jesus and interested himself in other foundations. He established a house for the reception of converted Jews during their period of instruction, and another for loose women who were anxious to reform but felt no call to the religious life. When told that the conversion of such women was seldom sincere or permanent, he answered, "To prevent only one sin would be a great happiness, though it cost ever so much pain." He set up two houses for poor orphans' and another as a home for young women whose poverty exposed them to danger. Many princes and cities in Italy, Spain, Germany, and the Low Countries begged Ignatius for workers. He made it a rule that anyone sent abroad should be fluent in the language of the country, so that he could preach and serve effectively. As early as 1540, Fathers Rodriguez and Xavier had been sent to Portugal, and the latter had gone on to the Indies, where he won a new world for Christ. Father Gonzales went to Morocco to teach and help the enslaved Christians there. Four missionaries made their way into the Congo, and, in 1555, eleven reached Abyssinia; others embarked on the long voyage to the Spanish and Portuguese settlements of South America. Doctor Peter Canisius, famed for learning and piety, founded Jesuit schools in Germany, Austria, and Bohemia. Fathers Laynez and Salmeron assisted at the momentous Council of Trent. Before their departure, Ignatius admonished them to be humble in all their disputations, to shun contentiousness and empty displays of learning. Jesuits landed in Ireland in 1542, while others bravely undertook the hazardous mission to England. In Elizabethan England and Scotland Protestantism was now firmly established and adherents of the Roman Church suffered persecution. Ignatius prayed much for the conversion of England, and his sons still repeat in their prayers the phrase, "for all Northern nations." Many were the brothers who risked death to keep Mass said in places where it had been forbidden. Of the English and Welsh Catholic martyrs of the period, subsequently beatified, twenty six were Jesuits. The activity of the Society in England was, however, but a small part of the work of Ignatius and his followers in the movement which came to be known as the Counter-Reformation. The Jesuits carried encouragement to Catholics of other European countries where a militant Protestantism was in control. "It was," says Cardinal Manning, "exactly what was wanted at the time to counteract the revolt of the sixteenth century. The revolt was disobedience and disorder in the most aggressive form. The Society was obedience and order in its most solid compactness." In 1551 Francis Borgia, a minister of Emperor Charles V, joined the Society and donated a large sum to start the building of the Roman College of the Jesuits; later Pope Gregory XIII contributed to it lavishly. Ignatius planned to make it a model for all Jesuit institutions, taking great pains to secure able teachers and excellent equipment. The German College in Rome he designed for students from countries where Protestantism was making headway. Other colleges, seminaries, and universities were soon established. The type of academic, psychological, and spiritual education for which the Jesuits became so famous was well worked out before the founder's death. The tone remained religious; students must hear Mass every day, go to Confession every month, and begin their studies with prayer. Their master should take every fit occasion to inspire them with love of heavenly things, and encourage a fervent habit of prayer, which otherwise might easily be crowded out by the school routine. Ignatius' chief work, <Spiritual Exercises>, begun at Manresa in 1522, was finally published in Rome in 1548, with papal approval. In essence, it is an application of Gospel precepts to the individual soul, written in such a way as to arouse conviction of sin, of justice, and judgment. The value of systematic retirement and religious meditation, which the book sets forth, had always been known, but the order and method of meditation prescribed by Ignatius were new, and, though many of the maxims he repeats had been laid down before by the Fathers, they were here singularly well arranged, explained, and applied. To perform the Exercises as directed requires a month. The first week is given to consideration of sin and its consequences; the second, to our Lord's earthly life; the third, to His Passion, and the fourth, to His Resurrection. The object is to induce in the practitioner such a state of inner calm that he can thereafter make a choice "either as to some particular crisis or as to the general course of his life," unbiased "by any excessive like or dislike; and guided solely by the consideration of what will best forward the one end for which he was created—the glory of God and the perfection of his own soul." A warning contained in the book runs as follows: "When God has appointed a way, we must faithfully follow it and never think of another under pretense that it is more easy and safe. It is one of the Devil's artifices to set before a soul some state, holy indeed, but impossible to her, or at least different from hers, so that by a love of novelty, she may dislike, or be slack in her present state in which God has placed her and which is best for her. In like manner, he represents to her other acts as more holy and profitable to make her conceive a disgust of her present employment." Ignatius' tender regard for his brothers won the heart of each one of them. He was fatherly and understanding, especially with the sick. Obedience and self-denial were the two first lessons he taught novices. In his famous letter to the Portuguese Jesuits on the virtue of obedience, he says that it brings forth and nourishes all the other virtues; he calls it the distinguishing virtue of the Jesuits. True obedience reaches to the understanding as well as to the will, and does not suffer a person even secretly to complain of or to criticize any command of his superior, whom he must look upon as vested with the authority of Jesus Christ. Even when broken with age and infirmities, Ignatius said that, if the Pope commanded it, he would with joy go on board the first ship he could find, though it had neither sails nor rudder, and immediately set out for any part of the globe. When someone asked what his feelings would be if the Pope should decide to suppress the Company of Jesus, "A quarter of an hour of prayer," he answered, "and I should think no more about it." His perpetual lesson was: "Sacrifice your own will and judgment to obedience. Whatever you do without the consent of your spiritual guide will be imputed to willfulness, not to virtue, though you were to exhaust your bodies by labors and austerities."
Humility, the characteristic trait of all the saints, was to Ignatius the sister virtue of obedience. For a long time he had gone about in threadbare garments, and lived in hostels for the poor, despised and ignored, but finding joy in his humiliation. When he lived in a house with his brothers, he always shared in the humble daily tasks in an unobtrusive fashion. In matters where he did not feel competent, Ignatius always readily accepted the judgment of others. As he received rebuke with cheerfulness and thanks, he allowed no false delicacy to restrain him from rebuking those who stood in need of it. Although he encouraged learning, he was quick to reprimand anyone whose learning made him conceited, tedious, or lukewarm in religion. He would have each member of the Society take up whatever work, whether teaching, preaching, or missions abroad, that he could do best. Notwithstanding the fatigue which the government of the Society imposed on him, Ignatius was always on fire to help others. The motto, "<Ad majorem Dei gloriam>" (To the greater glory of God), was the end for which he and the Society existed. When asked the most certain way to perfection, he answered: "To endure many and grievous afflictions for the love of Christ. Ask this grace of our Lord; to whomever He grants it, He does many other signal favors that always attend this grace." The French historian Guizot, in his <History of Civilization>, wrote of the members of the order, "Greatness of thought as well as greatness of will has been theirs."
Ignatius directed the Society of Jesus for fifteen years. At the time of his death there were 13,000 members, dispersed in thirty-two provinces all over Europe, and soon they were to be established in the New World. The Society of Jesus served as the chief instrument of the Catholic Reformation. Its pursuits as a trading firm, followed for some years, reaped high returns but were disapproved by the papacy. Exclusive of the period of its suppression by papal brief, 1776-1814, and its suppression by various countries at different periods, largely by reason of these commercial activities, it has flourished in virtually all parts of the globe; its educational institutions are famous, and many individual Jesuits have achieved distinction as teachers and writers. Towards the end of his life Ignatius became so worn and feeble that he was assisted by three fathers. He died, after a brief illness, on July 31, 1556. The brilliant Father Laynez succeeded him; he and Father Francis Borgia gave the Society its direction for years to come. In 1622 Ignatius was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and in our own time Pope Pius XI declared him the patron of all spiritual exercises. His emblems are a chasuble, communion, a book, and the apparition of the Lord. <Excerpts from> Spiritual Exercises
Principle And Foundation
<Man was created to praise, do reverence to and serve God> our Lord, and thereby to save his soul; and the other things on the face of the earth were created for man's sake and to help him in the following out of the end for which he was created. Hence it follows that man should make use of creatures so far as they do help him towards his end, and should withdraw from them so far as they are a hindrance to him with respect to that end. Wherefore it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent toward all created things, in whatever is left to the liberty of our free choice and is not forbidden, so that we on our part should not wish for health rather than sickness, for riches rather than poverty, for honor rather than ignominy, for a long life rather than a short life, and in all other matters should desire and choose solely those things which may better lead us to the end for which we were created.
First Week. Second Exercise
. . . The first point is the indictment of sins, that is to say, to bring to mind all the sins of my life, looking through it year by year or period by period. For this purpose three things are helpful; the first to look at the place and house where I have lived; the second at the dealings I have had with others; the third at the calling in which I have lived. The second point is to weigh the sins, looking at the foulness and malice that any mortal sin committed has in itself, even though it was not forbidden. The third, is to see who I am, belittling myself by examples; first, what am I in comparison with all mankind; secondly, what are all mankind in comparison with all the Angels and Saints in paradise; thirdly, to see what all creation is in comparison with God,---therefore in myself alone, what can I be? fourthly, to see all my corruption and foulness of body; fifthly, to look at myself as a sort of ulcer and abscess, from which have sprung so many sins and so many wickednesses and most hideous venom. The fourth is to consider who God is against whom I have sinned, according to His attributes, comparing them with their contraries in me-His wisdom with my ignorance, His omnipotence with my weakness, His justice with my iniquity, His goodness with my malice. The fifth, is a cry of wonder with a flood of emotion, ranging in thought through all creatures, how they have suffered me to live and have preserved me in life-how the Angels, being the sword of divine justice, have borne with me and guarded and prayed for me, how the Saints have interceded and prayed for me, and the heavens, sun, moon, stars and elements, fruits, birds, fishes and animals . . . and the earth, how it has not opened to swallow me up, creating new hells for my eternal torment therein. To conclude with a colloquy on mercy, casting a reckoning and giving thanks to God that He has granted me life hitherto, proposing amendment for the time to come with His grace. Our Father.
Second Week, First Day. First Contemplation
The usual preparatory prayer. The first prelude is to recall the history of what I have to contemplate, which is here how the three Divine Persons were looking down upon the whole flat or round of the world full of men; and how, seeing that all were going down to hell, it was decreed in their eternity that the Second Person should become man to save the human race. And so it was done, when the fullness of time came, by sending the angel Saint Gabriel to our Lady. The second, the composition (act of imagination), seeing the place. Here it will be to see the great room and round of the world, where dwell so many and such diverse nations. In like manner afterwards in particular, the house and apartments of our Lady, in the city of Nazareth, in the province of Galilee. The third, to ask for what I want. It will be here to ask for an intimate knowledge of the Lord who was made man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him.... The first point is to see the persons, each and all of them; and, first, those on the face of the earth, in such variety both in dress and in mien, some white and others black, some in peace and others at war, some weeping and others laughing, some healthy, others sick, some just born and others dying, etc. Secondly, to see and consider the three Divine Persons as on the royal seat or throne of the Divine Majesty, how they regard the whole face and circuit of the earth and all nations in such blindness, and how they are dying and going down to hell. Thirdly, to see our Lady and the angel who salutes her, and to reflect how I may gather fruit from such a sight. The second point, to hear what the persons on earth are saying to wit, how they talk to one another, how they swear and blaspheme, etc. In like manner what the Divine Persons are saying, to wit: "Let us work the redemption of mankind"; and afterwards what our Lady and the angels are saying; and then to reflect so as to gather fruit from their words. The third then, to study what the persons on the face of the earth are doing, to wit, smiting, slaying, going to hell, etc.; likewise what the Divine Persons are doing, namely, working the most holy Incarnation, etc.; and in like manner what the angel and our Lady are doing, to wit, the angel performing his office of Ambassador, and our Lady humbling herself and returning thanks to the Divine Majesty; and afterwards to reflect so as to gather some fruit from each of these things. At the end a colloquy is to be made, thinking what I ought to say to the three Divine Persons, or to the Eternal Word Incarnate, or to the Mother and our Lady, asking according as one feels in oneself how better to follow and imitate our Lord, so newly Incarnate, saying Our Father.
Second Week. Exercise
Let the preparatory prayer be as usual. The first prelude is the composition, seeing the place. It will be here to see with the eye of the imagination the synagogues, towns, and country places through which Christ our Lord preached. The second, to ask the grace which I want. It will be here to ask grace of our Lord that I be not deaf to His call, but prompt and diligent to fulfill His most holy will. The first point is to put before my eyes a human king, chosen by God the Lord Himself, to whom all Christian princes and all Christian men pay reverence and obedience. The second, to mark how this king addressed all his people, saying: "My will is to conquer the whole land of the unbelievers; therefore whoever shall wish to come with me must be content to eat as I do, and to drink and dress, etc. as I do. In like manner he must labor as I do by day, and watch at night, etc., so that in like manner afterwards he may share with me in the victory as he shall have shared in the labours." The third, to consider what should be the answer of good subjects to a king so generous, such a man indeed; and how consequently, if anyone would not answer the request of such a king, how worthy he would be of being despised by the whole world, and reckoned a recreant knight, no gentleman, but a "skulker." The second part of the Exercise consists of applying the aforesaid example of a temporal king to Christ our Lord according to the said three points. And touching the first point, if we pay regard to such a call of a temporal king on his subjects, how much more it is worth our consideration to see Christ our Lord, the eternal King, and before Him the whole world, to which and to every man in particular He cries and says: "My will is to overcome the whole world and all mine enemies and so to enter into the glory of my Father; therefore he who shall wish to come with me must labour with me, that following me in hardship he may likewise follow me in glory." The second, to consider that all who have judgment and reason will offer their whole persons to labor.... For the Second Week and thereafter it is very profitable to read at times from the books of the Imitation of Christ, and of the Gospels and the Lives of the Saints.
Fourth Week. A Contemplation To Obtain Love
. . . The usual prayer. First prelude is a composition, which is here to see how I stand before God our Lord, the Angels, and the Saints interceding for me. The second, to ask for what I want; it will be here to ask for an inward knowledge of the great good received, in order that I, being fully grateful for the same, may in all things love and serve His Divine Majesty. The first point is to recall to memory the benefits received of creation, redemption, and particular gifts, pondering with deep affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He has, and further, how the same Lord desires to give Himself to me so far as He can, according to His divine ordinance; and therewithal to reflect within myself, considering with much reason and justice what I on my part ought to offer for them, as one who offers with deep affection:-Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will, all I have and possess; you have given it me; to you, Lord, I return it; all is yours, dispose of it entirely according to your will. Give me your love and grace, because that is enough for me.... (<Spiritual Exercises>, translated by Father Rickaby, S. J.)
1 St. Antony of Egypt, twelve hundred years before, had told his disciples to use a similar test.
2 Both Manresa and Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey, have locations of great natural beauty in the mountains of Catalonia and both have become pilgrim shrines of prime importance. A church dedicated to St. Ignatius was built above his cave at Manresa.
3 This early military form of their title is still used in France, Spain, and Italy. "Company" was altered to "Society" in the bull of foundation. "Jesuit" was at first a rather hostile nickname, never used by Ignatius himself.
4 The Sapienza (literally, the Wisdom) was the name given in the sixteenth century to the University of Rome, founded by Pope Boniface in 1303. It is now a secular institution.
5 That is. to say the Divine Office daily in choir.
6 The Council of Trent, held in the Austrian Tyrol (1545-1563), was one of the longest and most important of all oecumenical councils. Summoned for the purpose of combating Protestantism (Luther died the year before it was called), clarifying doctrine, and reforming the discipline of the Church, it adopted far-reaching decrees of reformation in discipline and morals.
7 St. Francis Borgia, a Spaniard of famous lineage, became in time the third general of the Jesuit Order; so effective was he in spreading its influence in Western Europe that he is sometimes called its "second founder."
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus, Confessor. Celebration of Feast Day is July 31. Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.
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- Inigo Lopez de Loyola
Born to the Spanish nobility. Youngest of twelve children. Page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Military education. Soldier, entering the army in 1517, and serving in several campaigns. Wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna on 20 May 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life. During his recuperation the only books he had access to were The Golden Legend, a collection of biographies of the saints, and the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him.
On his recovery he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned a pilgrim‘s robes. He lived in a cave from 1522 to 1523, contemplating the way to live a Christian life. Pilgrim to Rome and the Holy Land in 1523, where he worked to convert Muslims. In 1528 he began studying theology in Barcelona and Alcala in Spain, and Paris, France receiving his degree on 14 March 1534. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus on 15 August 1534; it received papal approval in 1541. Friend of James Lainez, Alonso Salmerón, Nicholas Bobadilla, Simón Rodriguez, Blessed Peter Faber, and Saint Francis Xavier, the group that formed the core of the new Society. He never used the term Jesuit, which was coined as an insult by his opponents; the Society today uses the term with pride. He travelled Europe and the Holy Lands, then settled in Rome to direct the Jesuits. His health suffered in later years, and he was nearly blind at death.
The Jesuits today have over 500 universities and colleges, 30,000 members, and teach over 200,000 students each year.
- Álava, Spain
- Basque country
- Bilbao, Spain, diocese of
- Bizkaia, Spain
- Gipuzkoa, Spain
- Guipuscoa, Spain
- Guipúzcoa, Spain
- Jesuit Order
- military ordinariate of the Philippines
- retreats (proclaimed on 25 July 1922 by Pope Pius XI)
- Society of Jesus
- Spiritual Exercises (by Pope Pius XI)
- Vizcaya, Spain
- World Youth Day 2011
St. Ignatius Loyola 1491-1556
Founder of the Society of Jesus
It was in early June 1521 that soldiers carried the wounded Iñigo de Loyola to his ancestral home to recuperate from wounds received in battle. Since 1517 he had been in the service of the Duke of Nájera, Viceroy of Navarre, and under the Duke's leadership he had successfully participated in many battles without injury to himself. But when the French stormed the fortress at Pamplona on May 20, 1521, a stray cannon shot wounded one of his legs and broke the other. When the party arrived at Loyola Castle, Iñigo was feverish -- the wound in his leg refused to heal-- and to add to his discomfort he learned that the broken leg had to be reset, a procedure to be performed without anesthesia. Instead of getting better Inigo began to get worse and by the end of June his physician advised him to prepare for death. Then, unexpectedly, on the morning of June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, he felt better and within days he was out of danger. The wound healed and the bones in the broken leg mended; but, unfortunately, one leg was shorter than the other and an unsightly bone protruded below the knee. Realizing that as long as this condition remained he would be unable to wear the hose and the close-fitting boots that were then in fashion, and thinking more of his appearance than of the pain he would have to endure, Iñigo ordered the surgeon to saw off the offending bone and to lengthen his leg by systematic stretching.
For days Iñigo remained in bed and quietly endured the stretching so that he could once again be a handsome courtier. It was not pain that brought him suffering, it was the boredom. During his days of recovery he asked for books on chivalry, his favorite reading, but there were no such romances in the Loyola castle. So instead he was given the only books in the house -- one was a Life of Christ by Ludolph, a Carthusian monk, and the other was Flos sanctorum, a collection of lives of the saints. Iñigo set about reading them, and as it happened, this was the most important reading he would ever do.
Iñigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in the family castle in Azpeitia, in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa, Spain. He was the youngest of the thirteen children of Beltrán de Loyola and Marina Saénz de Licona, and was given the name Iñigo after the saintly Benedictine Abbot of Oña. By 1507, when both of his parents were dead, he went to serve as page to Juan Velázquez, Alcalde de Arévalo and treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. As a member of the Velázquez household he was frequently at court where he always sought to please the ladies. After ten years in the Alcalde's service he took up arms for the Duke of Nájera, and his injury at Pamplona was God's way of telling him that He wanted him in the service of His Son, the eternal King.
During his convalescence Iñigo reflected on the books he read and went on to question his former life, asking: "Why can I not walk these same glorious paths as did the saints?" The more he reflected, the more he was convinced that he needed to do penance, and so he resolved to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. One evening, perhaps it was mid-August, 1521, Our Lady with the Infant Jesus visited him in his room, a visit that brought him much consolation. This was his night of conversion and transformation; he now detested his former way of life and was determined to follow the paths of the saints. As he continued to read his books, he continued to reflect; and the more he reflected, the more did God become the center of his life.
By March 1522, Iñigo's right leg was sufficiently healed for him to put his plan into action. Without notifying his family that he was on his way to Jerusalem to live a new life for Christ alone, he set out for the port of Barcelona. At one of his stops, before arriving at Our Lady's shrine at Montserrat, he bought himself a pilgrim's staff and a pair of sandals, and he had a long tunic made from rough cloth, the type that was used to make sacks. Iñigo arrived at the famous shrine on March 21, found a confessor, and made a general confession in writing that took three days to compose. On the twenty-fourth, the eve before the feast of Our Lady's Annunciation, he gave the fine clothes he was wearing to a beggar and clothed himself in his sackcloth tunic. He was doing everything according to plan. That night he went to Our Lady's altar, and, following the rites of chivalry, he spent the evening in a vigil of arms, kneeling and standing the whole night through. At dawn he offered his sword and dagger to Our Lady, hanging them on the chapel wall. Iñigo de Loyola was now Our Lady's knight. Early on the twenty-fifth he left the monastery to make his way to Barcelona. Along the way he stopped at Manresa, a town on the banks of the Cardoner, where he intended to spend a few days. The few days, however, turned into ten months, for it was at Manresa that God began to train him in the spiritual life. He spent seven hours a day in prayer in a cave he had discovered and several hours a day helping the sick in the hospice of St. Lucy. He begged his daily bread and slept wherever lodging was offered him. At Manresa he also became familiar with other spiritual books, among them the Imitation of Christ, a book which he always esteemed. Whenever a passage from his reading particularly struck him, he jotted it down in the notebook he carried, the same one in which he recorded his meditations and the illuminations he received in prayer. It was from this little book that the Spiritual Exercises would later emerge.
After being at Manresa for almost a year, it was time for Iñigo to go to Barcelona and secure passage for Italy and Jerusalem. He left Manresa at the end of February 1523, sailed from Barcelona on March 20, and reached Gaeta, Italy, five days later. Iñigo immediately set out for Rome and arrived there on Palm Sunday, March 29. During his stay in the Eternal City he met Pope Adrian VI and requested permission to make his pilgrimage. By mid-April he was on his way to Venice and finally set sail for the Holy Land on July 15.
Iñigo, a pilgrim among pilgrims, first saw Jerusalem on September 4. He visited the Holy Places in that ancient city, prayed frequently at the Holy Sepulcher, as well as in the Garden of Olives and at the Mount of the Ascension, and visited Bethlehem. The life of Christ which he had read at Loyola now became vibrantly alive, and the pilgrim earnestly desired to remain in the Holy Land; but the Franciscan superior, who was custodian of the Holy Places, strongly dissuaded him. He sadly rejoined his companions, left the Holy Land on September 23, and, after three months of harsh weather and several vessel changes, he landed at Venice on January 12,1524.
Since he was unable to remain in the Holy Land, Iñigo, now thirty-three years old, had to chart his future anew. His only desire was to help souls, so he determined to study for the priesthood. He returned to Barcelona in March 1524 and began to study Latin grammar under Jerome Ardevoll, sitting in class with young boys. When not studying, he spent his time in prayer, penance, and begging. During his two years in Barcelona God inundated his soul with extraordinary supernatural favors. His obvious virtue attracted many of Barcelona's best people to him and these kind friends gave him a place to sleep.
When he had finally mastered the elements of Latin, he moved in May 1526 to the renowned university at Alcalá de Henares. In that great university city Iñigo gathered students and grownups about him, speaking about prayer and explaining to them the meaning of the Gospels, St. Paul, the commandments, and so forth. The good work he was accomplishing was not, however, acceptable to all; some people began to remark: "How can this Iñigo, who is uneducated and not a priest, teach others about God?" His success was brought to the attention of the Inquisition and in May 1527 he was arrested; after forty-two days of detention, however, he was released. Although no one had any difficulty with his doctrine he was, nevertheless, ordered to exchange his pilgrim's garb for that of a cleric or a layman and to stop teaching in public.
Being unable to teach others about God in Alcalá, Iñigo went to Salamanca to continue his studies at its famous university. He arrived, perhaps in July 1527, and immediately went into the streets to preach. Within two weeks of his arrival, the Dominicans at the university suspected him of heresy and placed him in prison. Iñigo was forced to explain to his examiners how he discoursed about the Trinity and the Eucharist, and in the end they found no fault with his teaching. After twenty-two days of confinement he was released and told that he could teach children but he had to refrain from speaking on more complicated theological matters. Feeling himself unwelcome in Salamanca, Iñigo decided to go to Paris, where he arrived on February 2, 1528.
During Iñigo's seven years in the French capital, he studied Latin grammar at the Collège de Montaigu (1528-1529), philosophy at Sainte- Barbe (1529-1533), and theology with the Dominicans (l534-l535). To support himself during these years he spent two months each summer begging alms from the rich Spanish merchants in Flanders. He also made a trip to London in 1531 where he collected enough money to last him through the year.
In September 1529, when he began his studies at Sainte-Barbe, Iñigo shared a room with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier. In time he explained to his roommates how he intended to spend his life for the salvation of souls, and Faber, having the same aspirations, became Iñigo first recruit. Xavier, however, still had dreams of worldly success, and it took time before Iñigo won him over. Among their friends at the university there were other Spaniards who also desired to consecrate themselves to God in the priesthood and in the service of souls. From these men Iñigo recruited James Laynez, Alphonsus Salmeron, Nicholas Bobadilla, and Simon Rodrigues for his group. When he felt his recruits were ready, he directed each of them through the Spiritual Exercises. The result was that each one was now more committed to God than he had been before.
At the beginning of August 1534, the seven companions decided to make private vows of chastity, of poverty (to be practiced when they had completed their studies), and to go to Jerusalem to work for the conversion of infidels. If, however, the trip to the Holy Land should be impossible, they would then go to Rome and place themselves at the disposal of the Holy Father. The date chosen for these vows was the feast of Our Lady's Assumption, August 15. Early that morning the seven met in the ancient crypt of the chapel of St. Denis in the Montmartre section of Paris, and since Faber was the only priest among them -- having been ordained earlier that year-he was the celebrant. Before receiving Holy Communion, each of the seven pronounced his vows. This service joined them together in closer companionship, but as yet they had no thought of forming a religious congregation. What took place in the crypt that morning was the seed that would eventually blossom forth into the Society of Jesus.
When Iñigo received his Master's degree at Eastertime 1534, the university Latinized his name, and thenceforth he used the name Ignatius. Once Ignatius had his Master's degree, he enrolled at the Dominican monastery to begin theology, but he was soon troubled with stomach pains. So poor was his health, in fact, that in early 1535 he had to interrupt his studies and return home where his native air, so his physician thought, would cure him. Before leaving the French capital, however, Ignatius put Faber in charge of the group and planned for everyone to meet in Venice in the spring of 1537, by which time they all would have completed their theology. Ignatius set out for Spain at the end of March and was in his native Azpeitia by April 30. Preferring not to live with his relatives in the family castle, he humbly requested lodging at the Hospital of the Magdalene and supported himself by begging. He did in Azpeitia what he had done in Alcalá -- he gathered the children and taught them about God and arranged to speak to the adults three times a week; but because he was so popular, he changed this into a daily explanation of the faith. Feeling better by the end of July, he bade farewell to his family and friends and set out for Venice.
Ignatius arrived for his second visit to Venice at the end of December 1535, and since he would have to wait two years until his companions joined him, he applied himself to studying theology, to giving the Exercises, and to assisting in a hospital. Faber, in the meantime, added three members to their group in Paris, Claude LeJay, Paschase Broët, and John Codure. Because war had broken out between France and Spain, and since Paris was rife with anti-Spanish feelings, the group decided to leave Paris for Venice two months ahead of schedule. They left on November 15, 1536, and after several close brushes with French soldiers, they safely arrived at their destination on January 8, 1537, and found Ignatius caring for the sick in a Venetian hospital.
Since they all had to wait for the pilgrim ship which would take them to the Holy Land -- and it was not due into port until sometime during the summer -- they volunteered their services at two hospitals, where they washed patients, made beds, and swept floors. In Venice, Ignatius's companions became known as Iniguists, and all who came into contact with them spoke of their kindness and charity.
In March, in preparation for their trip to the Holy Land, Ignatius sent his men to Rome to seek papal permission for their pilgrimage and to request ordination for the non-priests among them. They met Pope Paul III on April 3, Easter Tuesday, and the pope, greatly impressed by this highly-educated group, not only granted permission for their proposed pilgrimage and for the ordination of those who were not yet priests, but he even gave them money for their passage to Jerusalem. The pope, however, told them that tensions were growing in the Mediterranean and that they might never reach their goal. On their return to Venice they went back to their volunteer work at the hospitals. On June 14, 1537, Ignatius and four others were ordained priests, but all postponed celebrating their First Masses until they had time to better prepare themselves.
During the summer it became increasingly clear that with the Turks in the Adriatic it was unlikely that the pilgrim ship would reach Venice, so the pilgrims changed their plans. They broke into groups of twos and threes and went to several northern Italian cities to spend forty days in prayer prior to their First Masses. On July 25, Fr. Ignatius, together with Faber and Laynez, went to Vicenza and found shelter in the ruins of an abandoned monastery outside the city walls. For Ignatius these days were as spiritually rich as those in Manresa, for God granted him innumerable interior consolations and spiritual visions. When the forty days were over, Ignatius postponed his First Mass for another year. He never revealed his reason, but it is generally believed that he still hoped to go to Jerusalem and to celebrate it in the land where Jesus himself had lived. In September he called his companions to Vicenza to discuss future plans, the outcome of which was that Fr. Ignatius was to go to Rome and offer the services of the group to the Pope, while the others were to go to various university centers, Padua, Siena, Ferrara, and Bologna, where they were to begin their preaching apostolate. One final item was determined: if anyone should ask them who they were, they would answer the "Company of Jesus." They called themselves Compañia de Jesús, but when that was rendered into Latin it became Societas Jesu, and when this is translated into English it becomes the familiar Society of Jesus.
Together with Faber and Laynez, Ignatius set out for Rome in November 1537, and when still several miles outside the city, they visited a small chapel at La Storta where Fr. Ignatius had a vision of God in which He told him: "I will be favorable to you in Rome." Comforted to know that God would favor him, he did not yet know whether he would meet with success or persecution. The three pilgrims had their audience with Pope Paul III and humbly placed themselves and their companions at his disposal. Pope Paul, remembering that these were all university- trained theologians, gladly accepted the offer of their talents and immediately appointed Faber and Laynez to teach Scripture and theology at Rome's Sapienza college, leaving Fr. Ignatius to carry out his own particular apostolate of preaching and helping souls.
It was a full year after his arrival in Rome that Fr. Ignatius chose to celebrate his First Mass. On Christmas morning, 1538, he and his companions went to the church of St. Mary Major and there in the Chapel of the Manger, where the relic of Bethelehem was preserved, he offered to the Father in heaven His own Son's eternal oblation.
The work of Fr. Ignatius and his companions prospered in Rome as did that of the Jesuits in other Italian cities. Since God had manifested His will by keeping them in Italy -- they now abandoned plans for the Holy Land -- Ignatius asked his men to come to Rome during Lent 1539, to discuss whether they should remain as they are, or form a religious order. Up to this time they had never thought of founding a new order, but now that the Jerusalem pilgrimage was no longer possible, they had to think about the future. These first Jesuits discussed the matter for several weeks and their unanimous decision was to form a new order, if this would meet with the approval of the pope. They saw themselves as a group dedicated to the salvation of souls, living in community under obedience to their head, and through him obedient to the pope. They regarded themselves as teachers of Christian doctrine ready to travel wherever the pope should wish to send them. By June 24, 1539, Fr. Ignatius had composed a summary description of what the order was to be -- its goals and the means of attaining them -- and he humbly submitted it to the pope for his approval. By September Pope Paul sent his verbal approval, but the written bull of approbation Regimini militantis ecclesiae, was not issued until September 27, 1540. With the publication of the bull the Society of Jesus was canonically established.
Now that the Society had papal approval, a superior would have to be elected and its constitutions written. Fr. Ignatius therefore, convened his men in Rome during Lent 1541, and asked those unable to attend to send in their choice for superior. Three were unable to come: Faber was in Germany and Rodriguez and Xavier were in Portugal, waiting to board ship to go to the missions in the East Indies. When the ballots were read on April 8, each was a vote for Fr. Ignatius; his own ballot showed that he voted for "the one whom the majority would elect." Though faced with the unanimous decision of his fellow Jesuits, he was still reluctant to accept the office and asked his companions to reconsider their votes after a few more days of prayer. The second ballot, on April 13, confirmed the earlier one, but Ignatius was still reluctant to accept and asked for several days in which to pray and to seek advice from his Franciscan confessor. The advice he received was that he had to accept the office of general of the Society since this was the evident will of Almighty God. Conforming his will to that of Divine Providence, Fr. Ignatius and his five companions, on April 22 -- it was Friday of Easter week -- set out to visit the seven ancient churches of Rome ending at St. Paul Outside the Walls. When they arrived they made their confessions to one another, and as Fr. Ignatius celebrated Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady, these Jesuits, at the moment of Communion, pronounced their vows in the newly-formed Society of Jesus.
Fr. Ignatius had fifteen years in which to form and guide the new Society. Besides overseeing its growth and development, he also wrote its Constitutions, preached in Rome's churches, and taught Christian doctrine to children. He interviewed candidates for the Society and directed them through the Exercises. He also carried on an extensive correspondence not only dealing with the affairs of the Society but guiding many people in the spiritual life. The Society did not limit its activity to Rome, and it soon had establishments in the major Italian cities, as well as in Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, England and the Low Countries. From these contacts a continuous stream of candidates for the Society made its way to Rome; among them was the scholarly Peter Canisius and the saintly Francis Borgia. As Jesuit influence increased in these cities, colleges were opened and so rapid was the growth of the Society that by 1556, the year when Fr. Ignatius died, it totalled 1,000 members in 76 houses in 12 provinces that included Brazil, Japan, and India. All this is in the short span of fifteen years!
Fr. Ignatius was also attuned to the needs of Rome. He established the House of St. Martha for former prostitutes. and a home for young girls who were especially in danger of being exploited. He founded an orphanage and had a house built for Moors and Jews who had expressed a desire to become Christians. He started the Roman College in 1551 as a model for all Jesuit colleges throughout the world. To help counteract the influence of the Reformation in Germany, he established in 1552 a college in Rome for German seminarians to prepare them properly to work for the Church in Germany. In addition, the pope appointed Jesuits to attend the various colloquies with Lutheran theologians in Germany, and later he appointed Jesuits as his theologians at the great Council of Trent. Ever since his Paris days, Fr. Ignatius had suffered from stomach ailments; these were especially troublesome during the last ten years of his life. As his work increased, especially his concern about the Society's Constitutions, which he completed in 1550, his health declined. In 1554 he spent the months of June and July in bed. The following winter he found new strength, but by April 1556 he was failing again. The summer was oppressive and since he was not getting better, his physician recommended that he go to the villa on the Aventine, which he did on July 2. The air there, however, did not cure him and he returned to the residence in the center of Rome on July 24. The heat was so intense that summer that several Jesuits were ill with fever. Whenever the physician arrived to examine them, he also checked on Fr. Ignatius. But the founder was neither better nor worse, and since he had survived similar bouts in the past, the physician was sure that he would survive this one. Ignatius, however, thought differently.
On Thursday, July 30, Fr. Ignatius called his secretary, Polanco, to his bedside and asked him to go to the Vatican that afternoon to request the pope's blessing for him and to recommend the Society to his good will and to assure him that if, by God's mercy, he were admitted into heaven, his prayer for the Vicar of Christ would be all the more fervent. Although Ignatius was suggesting that death was imminent, Polanco put more trust in the physician's statement that he would recover. And so he told Ignatius that since he had several letters that had to be written and sent to Spain that day, he would go to the Vatican on the following day. Fr. Ignatius intimated that he would prefer Polanco to go that afternoon, nevertheless, he told him, "Do as you wish." Polanco returned to his letters. Later, when he was with Fr. Ignatius for the evening meal, they chatted as usual and, sure he had made the right decision, Polanco went peacefully to bed.
Shortly after midnight Fr. Ignatius had a turn for the worse. When the infirmarian checked on him at daybreak, it was clear that he was in his last moments. The brother hurriedly called several priests to the founder's room, and Polanco rushed off to the Vatican to secure the papal blessing. But before he returned, Fr. Ignatius, the one-time soldier who had become a pilgrim for the love of Christ, had given his soul to God. The news of his death brought many to the Jesuit residence, and when the body was made ready for visitors, there was a long line of cardinals and priests, of Rome's nobility and Rome's poor, all coming to kiss the venerable hands of the founder of the Society of Jesus and to touch him with their rosaries. On Saturday evening, August 1, he was buried in the Church of Madonna della Strad, and when that church was replaced by the magnificent church of the Gesú, his remains were interred there in 1587.
Ignatius of Loyola was beatified on 27 July 1609, and on the 31st of that month, Fr. General Aquaviva offered the first Mass honoring the new Blessed in the Chapel of Madonna della Strada in the Gesú church. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622, together with St. Francis Xavier, and Jesuits celebrate the feast of their beloved founder on July 31, the day when he left this world to be with God in heaven.
Lord, in your providence you guided Saint Ignatius to found the Society of Jesus. Enrich it, we pray, with gifts of heart, mind and spirit. Make us all one with you in holiness and love, so that we may know your will and obey it as your faithful servants. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
©1984 Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.
Jesuit Saints and Martyrs -- Published by Loyola University Press, 1984; pp. 241-250.
Ignatius of Loyola and Ideas of Catholic Reform | Vince Ryan | IgnatiusInsight.com
How to categorize or describe Catholic reforming activity in sixteenth century has been the subject of intense historical debate. The term Counter-Reformation itself presupposes that any reforming activity by the Catholic Church was in response to the ideas and actions of the Reformation. In the nineteenth century, the German historian, Wilhelm Maurenbrecher, began using Catholic Reformation to describe the reforming activity within the Church that did not arise in response to Protestantism. Pre-dating Luther, this movement of Catholic reformers in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries sought to rectify the abuses in the Church and thus renew its practices and mission.
A useful parallel for the early stages of this movement would be the Gregorian reforms of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when a group of churchmen, primarily in response to the various clerical abuses of the time, implemented a series of ecclesiastical reforms to eliminate the lax and sometimes scandalous activities of the clergy and to guard against the encroachment of secular powers upon Church offices. Those who called for and carried out reform within the Catholic Church on the eve of the Protestant Reformation were working within this tradition. Prominent figures in this movement were Ximenes de Cisneros, John Colet, John Fisher, Gasparo Contarini and even Erasmus of Rotterdam. These men advocated reform through improved education, greater emphasis upon the New Testament, and the good example of Church leaders. 
St. Ignatius of Loyola
Today most scholars agree that Catholic reforming activity in this era should be viewed through both the Counter-Reformation and Catholic Reformation lenses. While such revision has gained more general acceptance, various figures of the period need to be re-examined under this enhanced perspective. St Ignatius of Loyola is one such individual.
While many are familiar with the life of Ignatius, a brief recounting of his conversion experience will be beneficial for the discussion. Born to a Basque noble family, Ignatius was consumed by the chivalric concept as a young man and attempted to make a reputation through military valor. Such illusions were crushed when his leg was shattered by a cannon ball at the siege of Pamplona in 1521. His injury left him convalescent for many months. To pass the time, Ignatius requested a book of chivalric romances that had delighted him so in his youth. None being found in the castle where he was recuperating, he was brought Ludolph of Saxony's Life of Christ and Jacopo da Voragine's lives of the saints known as The Golden Legend. The spiritual satisfaction and peace provided by these works gradually changed his outlook; visions of knightly glory were now replaced by the desire to do great deeds just as the saints had for the love of God.
When Ignatius gathered together the small group at the University of Paris who would become the first Jesuits, their concern was not the combating of nascent Protestantism. In fact, an initial goal of the company had been to seek passage to the Holy Land to minister to Christians and convert the Muslim inhabitants. Such a desire seems to indicate that these men were somewhat oblivious to the internal problems that Christendom was facing. But Providence did not permit such early ambitions to be fulfilled. Ignatius and his companions went to Rome where they put themselves at the service of Pope Paul III. The pope approved the order in 1540, and Ignatius was chosen as the first superior general.
Ignatius's concept of renewal was very much in keeping with the spirituality advocated by other contemporary Catholic reformers. Whereas in the Middle Ages religious experience was more communal and contemplative, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries this experience tended to be more individual and active. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis was a popular meditative tool that emphasized the individual's relation with Jesus, particularly stressing Christ as a model even when carrying out the most mundane tasks. Thomas a Kempis' work would strongly influence Ignatius's own spirituality. 
The Jesuit founder's most famous theological composition, the Spiritual Exercises, a well-ordered manual of meditations, rules, and practices culled from his own experiences, was a guide for the Christian's journey from purgation to enlightenment to union with Christ. A practical and ascetical handbook often used for retreats, the Exercises reflect the shift toward interiorized and personal spirituality. Demonstrating the active nature of this spirituality, the Jesuits did not celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours in common or choir for fear that this would interfere with their commitment to ministry. These notions of interior conversion to Christ and active service in his name would become central to Jesuit identity.
The Jesuit Agenda
Jesuit service encompassed a multitude of duties, preeminent among which was catechesis of the young and uninformed. In an initial sketch of the order drawn up by Ignatius and his companions in 1539 to present to Paul III, the theme of educating the youth is quite prominent:
Whoever wishes to be a soldier for God under the standard of the cross and to serve the Lord alone and His Vicar on earth . . . bear in mind that he is part of a community founded principally for the advancement of souls in the Christian life and doctrine and for the propagation of the faith by the ministry of the word, by spiritual exercises, by works of charity, and expressly by the instruction in Christianity of children and the uneducated. 
The emphasis on teaching reappears in section three of the document where Ignatius instructs future Jesuits to hold esteemed the instruction of children and the uneducated in the Christian doctrine of the Ten Commandments and other similar rudiments.  The founding of the first Jesuit institution completely dedicated to secondary schooling for the laity at Messina in 1548 was only a natural extension of the catechetical duties Ignatius deemed so critical to the order.
The Jesuit university was a synthesis of social education, rhetoric and the classics taught under the pedagogical techniques Ignatius himself had experienced at Paris. However, as Reformation historian Michael Mullet notes, The highest of Loyola's educational priorities, the ultimate purpose of schooling, was piety.  The Constitutions of the Jesuits stipulated that teachers should, in their courses, regularly touch upon matters valuable for forming good habits, evangelizing and promoting Christian living.
While the ability to evangelize was one of many skills that Jesuits hoped to instill at their schools, it was also one of the primary functions of the Society itself. The early Jesuits dedicated themselves to a worldwide ministry of evangelization. As Ignatius explained in the 1539 proposal, their goal was to propagate the Faith, especially wherever the pope desired them, whether he sends us to the Turks or to the New World or to the Lutherans or to others, be they infidel or faithful.  It is worth noting that missions to the Turks and the Americas were placed ahead of those to Protestants. The reference to Lutheranism is even more striking because it figures so rarely in the early writings of Ignatius. Noting this absence, John W. O'Malley remarks that even in the saint's autobiography, he scarcely mentions the Protestant Reformation. 
Whence the Image of a Counter-Reformation Leader?
And yet why have many considered Ignatius in particular and the Jesuits in general as hallmarks of the Counter-Reformation? The problem, in part, is due to the debate over how to describe the reforming activity of the Catholic Church of the time. Until the twentieth century, Counter-Reformation was the preferred description. However, such an assessment is not due merely to historical generalizations. After his death in 1556, Ignatius of Loyola was regularly presented in contrast to Martin Luther, and the Jesuits themselves were the prime culprits for this portrayal. Viewed in the context of post Tridentine counterattacks, such a rendering is understandable. Moreover, the military metaphors that Ignatius himself used in much of his writing, while ultimately rooted in his previous chivalric fascinations, corresponded nicely to the image of Ignatius and the Jesuits as the shock troops of the Counter-Reformation.
Of course such a view of the Jesuits has some truth to it. Jesuits participated at Trent (though in a more peripheral manner) and were instrumental in implementing the decrees of the Council. Robert Bellarmine was one of the most distinguished persons of the era with his attacks on Protestantism and his defense of Catholic theology. Toward the end of his life, Ignatius himself was more active in the fight against the Lutherans. He frequently communicated with Peter Canisius, who was on the frontlines of the conflict in Germany, about his growing awareness for this aspect of the Society's mission. In 1550, Ignatius revised the bull that established the Jesuits, stating that the purpose of the order was now the defense and propagation of the faith. 
Still, even taking into account the actions of the last decade of Ignatius' life, it is inaccurate to see Ignatius and the Jesuits as an outgrowth of the Counter-Reformation. The spirituality, the outlook, and the purpose of the early Jesuits are examples of a Catholic reform movement that was not prompted by opposition to the Protestant Reformation.
 For a lucid and detailed discussion of the historiography of this debate, see John W. O'Malley, SJ, Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).
 A. G. Dickens, The Counter Reformation (New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 1968) p. 22.
 Document found in John C Olin, Catholic Reform from Cardinal Ximenes to the Council of Trent 1495-1563 (New York: Fordham Univerity Press, 1990) p. 83.
 Ibid, p. 85.
 Michael A Mullett, The Catholic Reformation (London: Routledge, 1999) p. 95.
 Olin, p. 84.
 John W O'Malley, SJ, "Was Ignatius Loyola a Church Reformer? How to Look at Early Modern Catholicism", Catholic Historical Review, 77 (1991), p. 184.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2001 issue of Catholic Dossier.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com/Insight Scoop Links:
• The Counter-Reformation: Ignatius and the Jesuits | Fr. Charles P. Connor
• When Jesuit Were Giants | Interview with Father Cornelius Michael Buckley, S.J.
• The Jesuits and the Iroquois | Cornelius Michael Buckley, S.J.
• The Tale of Trent: A Council and and Its Legacy | Martha Rasmussen
• Reformation 101: Who's Who in the Protestant Reformation | Geoffrey Saint-Clair
• Why Catholicism Makes Protestantism Tick | Mark Brumley
Related Ignatius Press Books:
• St. Ignatius of Loyola | James Brodrick, S.J.
• The Jesuit Missionaries to North America | Father François Roustang
• The Re-formed Jesuits, Vol 1 | Joseph Becker, S.J.
• The Re-formed Jesuits, Vol 2 | Joseph Becker, S.J.
• St. Ignatius and the Company of Jesus (Vision Series) | August Derleth
• The Word, Church and Sacrament in Protestantism and Catholicism | Fr. Louis Bouyer
• A Danger to the State: A Historical Novel | Philip Trower
SOURCE : http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2007/vryan_jesuitsreform_jan07.asp
Saint Ignatius, the glorious founder of the Society of Jesus, and the unweary laborer for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, was born of noble parents in Biscay, a province of Spain, in the castle of Loyola, from which he took his name. His birth took place in 1491, in the same century in which Martin Luther, the well-known heretic, was born, who with Calvin, born in 1506, persecuted the Catholic Church and endeavored to destroy it entirely. God, according to a papal declaration, always watching over His holy Church, would oppose Ignatius to these two new heretics, that through him, and through the Society founded by him, their erroneous doctrines might be thoroughly refuted, and the Catholic faith have powerful protectors, as, in former days, He had opposed Arius by Saint Athanasius, Nestorius by Saint Cyril, Pelagius by Saint Augustine, and other heretics by other apostolic men.
Ignatius, chosen by God for so important a work, was endowed with great natural gifts, possessed a comprehensive mind, and early exhibited wonderful abilities and tact, with unusual wisdom and strength of soul. All his aspirations were lofty, and nothing vulgar or low could attract him. Soon perceiving his talents, his parents sent him, after he had been carefully instructed in the Catholic faith, to the Court of King Ferdinand of Castile, where he was educated with the pages, and was taught all that was supposed befitting his rank. In riper years, he entered the army, hoping to become famous by his valor. In 1521, an opportunity was offered to give a proof of his courage. The king had entrusted to him the defense of the city of Pampeluna, which was besieged by the French. Ignatius acted with all the prudence and caution of an old and experienced warrior. But Providence so ordered, that the wall upon which Ignatius stood, bravely defending the fortress, was struck by a cannonball, and a fragment of stone severely injured one of his limbs, while at the same time the ball rebounding, bruised his foot so badly, that he sank unconscious to the ground. The French were soon in possession of the fortress, but they treated their heroic prisoner with the greatest kindness, and sent him, a few days later, on a litter, to the Castle of Loyola. Here Ignatius became so ill, that it was deemed necessary to give him the last sacraments. The thread on which hie life hung was so slender that the physicians all agreed that there was no hope for him, u before midnight the symptoms should not change. The Most High did not wish to call Ignatius out of life, and had brought him to this state only to make him disgusted with the world, and so lead him to a holier warfare. Therefore, on the eve of the feast of the Apostles Saint Peter and St, Paul, God sent the Prince of the Apostles, to whom Ignatius had been greatly devoted from his early youth, to restore him to health. Appearing to Ignatius during his sleep, Saint Peter looked tenderly at him, and touching his wounds, took from him all pain, and thus saved him from the danger of death. But nevertheless, it was the will of God that Ignatius should keep his bed a considerable time, in order to regain his strength. To pass the time, he asked for something to read; but, by special providence, none of the romances he desired were to be found, and in their stead, two devout books were brought to him, one containing the “Life of Christ,” and the other the “Lives of the Saints.” Ignatius, little inclined to read them, took them for want of others, and at first only looking into them, soon became, by the grace of God, so deeply interested in them that, meditating on the acts of Christ and the Saints, he repented of his past idle life, and resolved, thenceforth, to follow their steps, and to serve God alone. Rising during the night, he cast himself before an image of the Blessed Virgin, begging of her the grace to be accepted into her service and that of her beloved Son, and to remain in it until the end of his days. Hardly was his prayer finished, when suddenly a terrible noise was heard, the house was shaken as by an earthquake, and the windows were shattered. Saint Ignatius regarded this as a sign that his prayer was heard, and exhibited more joy than fear. The Evil One, hereupon, endeavored, by a thousand representations and apprehensions, to make him abandon his determination, and pressed him with the most dangerous temptations. But Ignatius again sought refuge with the divine Mother, and addressed her in the words of the Holy Church: “Show thyself a Mother.” The Divine Mother appeared to him with her heavenly Child, and animating him to persevere, she assured him of her .assistance. After this comforting vision, all his temptations ended, and all his thoughts were directed towards the regulation of his new life. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, he, under some pretext, left the house of his father and repaired to Montserrat, where a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin drew crowds of pilgrims. There he made his general confession amid a flood of tears, and received, with the greatest devotion, the Blessed Sacrament. After this, he gave his horse to the monastery, and hung his sword near the altar of the Blessed Virgin, as a sign that henceforth he would no longer serve the world but God only. Having bestowed his costly garments on a beggar, he clothed himself as a poor pilgrim, and remained, as a newly-enrolled soldier of the highest of all generals, all night long before the altar of the Mother of Mercy, in fervent prayer. The next day, which was the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady, he left early and betook himself to Manresa, which is three miles from Montserrat, and going to the hospital which was there, he served the sick with the most tender devotion. As soon, however, as he detected that they began to esteem him for his charity and other pious deeds, he secretly left and went into a mountain cave, five or six hundred yards off, in which he led an extremely austere and penitential life. He daily spent seven hours on his knees, praying and weeping on account of his sins. He fasted continually except on Sundays, when he partook of the food of angels. Water and the bread which he received as alms, was his only nourishment. He always wore a hair-shirt, which was fastened round his loins by small chains. He scourged himself three times daily, often unto blood. The bare ground was his bed, and he never took more than a few hours’ rest, passing the remainder of the night in meditation on death and the Passion of Christ. By long continuation of this austere life, his body became so emaciated and weak, that he was found more than once, lying more dead than alive on the road to Manresa, whither he used to go to assist at Holy Mass. Some friends advised him not to be so severe with himself; but he said: “Oh! let me suffer this trifle in order to secure my salvation.” Satan also tried to dissuade him from his austerities, and as he could not succeed, he took, by the permission of the Almighty, the form of a virtuous man, and going to the holy penitent, said, that it was not possible to continue long such extreme mortifications, and that he should therefore moderate them somewhat. “Unhappy man,” said he, “you may still live seventy years; and have you the courage to spend so long a time in such penance and severity?” Ignatius replied: “Can you promise me one single day of the many years of which you speak?” With these words, he brought the spirit of lies to shame, and drove him away. God permitted also this holy penitent to be tormented with the most harassing scruples. To overcome these, he resolved to abstain from all food and drink until he was free from them, as he had read that a certain Saint had used this remedy in a similar case. Seven days he passed without partaking of any nourishment; but his confessor, on hearing of it, commanded him to take his usual sustenance. Ignatius obeyed, and was from that moment not only released from his scruples, but obtained also from God an especial gift to free others from them. Many other special graces did the Almighty bestow upon Ignatius in the first year of his conversion, which space does not permit us to relate. But there is one thing which we can not omit to mention: it is that, during the year of penance at Manresa, Ignatius wrote that wonderful book of “Spiritual Exercises,”- which has been recommended by the most learned and the most holy men, as the path, pointed out by heaven itself, to conversion, to spiritual perfection and holiness. The Apostolic See has praised and confirmed it, and the spiritual benefits which have been derived from it, and are still to this hour derived from it, are inexpressibly great. But as it is known that Ignatius, when he wrote this book, was as yet without learning, it must be concluded that he was inspired by God to give those instructions, by virtue of which he, and. later, the sons of his Order, worked real miracles of conversion in so many different places and persons. During this penitential year, the heart of Ignatius was filled with an intense desire to visit the Holy Land, not only for the purpose of seeing those places which have been hallowed by the presence of our Saviour, but also in the hope of converting the Mahommedans, and of giving his life for the true faith, in that . land where our beloved Redeemer gave His for our welfare. This voyage was undertaken in the greatest poverty and with deep devotion, and the holy places visited with a true spirit of ardent piety and reverence. As, however, the ecclesiastics, who resided there, dissuaded him from remaining long, and Ignatius himself recognized that, to gain his aim in life, which was to further the salvation of souls, he needed learning, he returned to Europe, and began at Barcelona, when 33 years of age, to study the rudiments of the Latin grammar with the boys in the public school. He continued his studies at different places and finished them at Paris, where he received the title of Doctor of Divinity. The trials, dangers, persecutions, disgraces, wrongs and calumnies he suffered, as well in his travels as during the years of his studies, would be too long to relate here. On his return from the Holy Land, he was seized by the Spaniards, who were at war with France, and was at first taken for a spy, and afterwards for a fool, and thus most disgracefully treated. By a few words, he could have escaped these insults; but he was silent and bore it all patiently, for the love of Christ, who just then had appeared to him. At several places where he studied, or through which he travelled, he was apprehended by order of the authorities, and cast into prison; as at Alcala, Salamanca and Venice. The only cause of this cruel treatment was that, wherever the holy man was, he showed solicitude for the salvation of others, and converted many by his pious discourses, explanation of the Christian doctrine and his own Spiritual Exercises. Many he persuaded to leave the world, others he led to a quiet Christian life. For this he was suspected of disseminating false doctrines and corrupting men under the appearance of piety. But as often as he was -examined, he was found guiltless, and requested to continue in his zeal. At Paris, where he had recalled many young men from an idle and sinful life to a better and more useful one, it was resolved to whip him in public, as a corrupter of youth. When, however, the director of the school had recognized his innocence, he publicly and on his knees asked pardon of the Saint, and praised, in the highest terms, his zeal in leading souls in the path of salvation. To speak of God and of heavenly things had become a second nature to him, so that those who knew’ not his name, called him the man of spiritual conversation, or the man who was constantly looking up to heaven. He reformed a convent near Barcelona, the inmates of which stood in very ill repute. This drew upon him the vengeance of certain persons, who had been, at his suggestion, excluded from the house, and who, one day, lay in wait for him and beat him most unmercifully, threatening to treat him still worse, if he did not cease preaching at the convent. Ignatius was not in the least deterred by this from his good work. His enemies then hired two ruffians to kill him. These set upon him and treated him in a most brutal manner, whilst the Saint, with eyes raised to heaven, prayed God to forgive them. They left him weltering in his blood, supposing they had killed him. He, however, recovered, and no sooner were his wounds healed, than he again went to the convent in order to strengthen the nuns to perseverance in virtue. When some one tried to dissuade him from going, on account of the danger, he said: “What can be more pleasing to me than to die for love of Christ and my neighbors?” Not satisfied with his personal labors for the salvation of souls, he resolved to seek such men as would join him with all the power of their minds, to labor for the same object. He succeeded in uniting to himself nine students of the University of Paris, all of whom possessed great knowledge and were eminent for their talents. Among them was Francis Xavier, afterwards so celebrated as the Apostle of the Indies. Ignatius, by his Spiritual Exercises, led them all to virtue and sanctity, and inspired them with the fervent desire to devote themselves to the salvation of souls and to the honor of God.
In 1534, on the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, Ignatius and his companions went to a Chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, on Montmartre, near Paris, and after they had received holy communion, they all made a vow to renounce the world and go to Jerusalem to convert the heathen. If, however, they were unable, after waiting one year, to make their way to Palestine, they vowed that they would go to Rome, throw themselves at the feet of the Holy Father, and offer their services in whatever he might deem most beneficial for the salvation of souls. On account of a war between the Turks and the Venetians, they were unable to make their pilgrimage to Palestine; and hence, in fulfillment of their vow, they went to Rome. When Ignatius and the two companions who were with him had reached a place called La Storta, near Rome, the Saint went into a chapel near by to say his prayers. His fervor was such that, in an ecstasy, he saw the Heavenly Father and beside Him His Son bearing the Cross. He heard the Heavenly Father commend him with loving words to His Son, putting him and his companions under His protection. The Divine Son manifested His pleasure at this Divine command, and turning to Ignatius, said: “I will favor you at Rome.” With this the vision ended, but the inner comfort which Ignatius and his companions, to whom he related it, derived from it, departed not, but remained in their hearts.
As soon as Ignatius had arrived in Rome, he threw himself at the feet of the Holy Father and offered the services of himself and his companions, for such spiritual labor as he might wish them to do in any part of the world. The Pope received them with pleasure, and having had sufficient proofs of their virtue and learning, he sent some of them to those places where he thought they would do the most good. Ignatius remained with the rest at Rome, and at first instructed young and old in the Christian doctrine; but later, he began to preach for the reformation of morals and exhorted the people to a more frequent use of the holy Sacraments. It cannot be denied that the custom of instructing children in the Christian doctrine, and also the frequent reception of the holy Eucharist, which was at that period greatly neglected, were again revived, or at least increased by Saint Ignatius and his companions. To preserve this improvement and these advantages for future times, and to increase them still more, Saint Ignatius resolved to found a new Order, whose members should labor for the spiritual well-being of men. He disclosed his intentions to the Pope, and having written, by his permission, certain rules, presented them to his Holiness for approval. After many difficulties, the holy desires of Ignatius were at length fulfilled, and thus was founded a new Order under the name of the Society of Jesus, which in the year 1540 was first sanctioned by Paul III., afterwards by several other Popes, and was also confirmed by the Council of Trent. This Order demands of its members, besides the usual three vows of perpetual poverty, chastity and obedience, a vow to instruct youth, and requires of the Professed another vow, of special obedience to the Pope, by which they are bound to go, even without money, whithersoever the Pope may send them to labor for the salvation of souls. Ignatius was chosen as General by the members of the new Order, but he did not accept the office until he was commanded to do so by his confessor after having long consulted with God in prayer. He administered his office with admirable wisdom and strength of character, and to the immeasurable benefit of the entire Christian world, until his death. Although remaining at Rome, he sent his disciples into other cities and lands, after having instructed them carefully in all that pertained to the salvation of souls and to the manner of leading them to God. Above all, he recommended entire self-abnegation, after the example of Christ, who has said: “Whoever will follow me, must deny himself.” Hence he often said these important words: “Conquer thyself.” Saint Francis Xavier, who frequently made use of this expression, was asked why he did so? He answered: “Because I learned it from our Father Ignatius.” Ignatius further endeavored to lead his disciples to acquire true virtue, especially a fervent love of God and of their neighbors. In this, as in all other virtues, he was a shining example to them all. According to the testimony of the Apostolic See, he had acquired the most perfect control over his inclinations. He also taught the members of the Order to be solicitous for the cleanliness and beauty of the house of God, for the conversion of heretics and heathens, for the promotion of virtue among Catholics, for the instruction of the ignorant, especially of children in the mysteries of the faith; for the frequent use of the Sacraments; for the increase of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin; and, in a word, for everything that could advance the honor of God and the salvation of souls. The members of the Order faithfully obeyed his directions. The fame of the great good that these holy men did, induced many kings and princes to invite them into their states. Among these, the first was John III., King of Portugal, who, through his Ambassadors at Rome, demanded seven of the Fathers of the Society of Jesus. At this request, Ignatius sighed deeply and said: “If the king requires seven of my brethren, how many will remain for other countries?” These words show how zealous he was in his thoughts and wishes. As the number of his religious was small, at that time, and as he would, moreover, send none who were not well-grounded in learning and virtue, instead of seven, he sent but two; but those two did more than could have been expected of seven.
They were Simon Rodriguez and Francis Xavier, the latter of whom, on account of his having converted many thousands of heathens and performed many miracles, is known and honored all over the Christian world. The good which was done by the holy efforts of these two men, induced the king to found the first college for the Society of Jesus, at Goa, the capital of India, and soon after, another at Coimbra in Portugal, which, in the course of time, supplied many places with apostolic laborers. While thus the disciples of Saint Ignatius untiringly labored to win souls for Heaven in Portugal, India, and other countries, the holy father employed equally well those who were with him in Rome. All that he had taught his companions about decorating the house of God, converting the heretics, and instructing the Catholics, as before related, he practised at Rome, without abating his zeal. “The world seemed foo small for him,” said Gregory XV. No labor, no danger, could deter him, where the salvation of even a single soul was concerned. “If I could die a thousand deaths in one day,” said he on one occasion, “I would willingly do so to save a single soul.” At another time he was heard to say, that if he had the choice either to die immediately with the assurance of his salvation, or without this assurance to live and to have an opportunity to gain a soul for Heaven, he would rather remain upon earth and save that soul than die immediately and go to Heaven. These words display the love of Saint Ignatius towards his neighbor and his zeal for the spiritual welfare of men. No less was this manifested in his works; and it can be truly said that there was no man, whatever his race or station, for whose welfare he did not labor either personally or through the members of his order. With the greatest love and solicitude, he instructed children in the Christian doctrine, even when he was general of the order, and bound all its members to do the same. He founded public schools in various places, where youth was instructed in virtue and learning without any compensation. People of all ages and conditions were animated by his pious discourses, and especially by his Spiritual Exercises, to fervor in the service of God, and were led not only to repentance for their sins, but to the practice of the highest virtue. For the welfare of orphans and of children who had been abandoned by their parents, he established in Rome two houses where they were taken care of and instructed until they were able to take care of themselves. For single women, who on account of their poverty were in danger of sin, he founded the Asylum of Saint Catharine, where they had a home until they either entered a convent or were provided with a dower. Another house was founded for women who were willing to abandon their wicked life and do penance. In it they were maintained and instructed.
God only knows how many sins the holy man prevented by the foundation of these houses, and how much good he thus occasioned. It is true that some who had been reclaimed, returned to their old course of life, and the Saint was told that he should not waste his efforts upon them. But he answered: “It does not seem to me that my care and labor have been lost, even if such persons return to their former vices. It is much if I prevent them from offending God only for a single night.” His solicitude extended even to the hardened Jews; their conversion was an object of great concern to him, and God blessed his efforts in their behalf with such signal success that he baptized forty of them in one year. He also established a house where those who had renounced Judaism were received and kept until they were thoroughly instructed in the Christian religion and baptized. The solicitude which the Saint manifested toward Germany, which was at that time in great danger of entirely forsaking the true faith, must not be forgotten. For the salvation of that country, he not only offered many prayers, penances and masses, but also ordered that all the priests of the Society should offer the holy sacrifice once every month, and all those who were not priests, should say certain prayers for the same intention. This ordinance is still kept. Besides this, he instituted, amidst infinite difficulties, the German College, which is still in existence in Rome, and in which young Germans are educated for the priesthood and prepared for the missions, in order that w’hen their education is completed and they return to their homes, they may be able to protect the Catholic religion, convert the heretics, and by their good example, induce all to live virtuously. Martin Chemnitz, a well known Lutheran, wrote in regard to this College, that if the Society of Jesus had done but this, it could be called the destroyer of the reformed religion. Saint Ignatius further manifested his sympathy with oppressed Germany, by sending several apostolic men to Cologne, Mayence, and other cities, who bravely opposed the heretics, and animated the Catholics to fidelity to their church. Melancthon, the assistant of Luther, said himself, that by the power of these men, the dissemination of the new Gospel was greatly hindered. When he perceived that the number of the Society daily increased, he cried out with grief: “Oh! wo, wo! How will it be with the new gospel? The whole world will be filled with Jesuits!” The Evil One, the founder and protector of all heresies. seemed to think the same; for he used his utmost endeavors to interfere with Saint Ignatius in his most holy efforts. He instigated some to accuse, not only the Saint, but the whole Society, of the most hideous vices, and to persecute them whenever there was the slightest opportunity. There is not to be found an Order which, during its whole existence, has had to suffer such bitter persecution, and has been so slandered, so unjustly dealt with by the heretics, and even by some who called themselves Catholics, as the Order founded by Saint Ignatius. But never was the Saint seen depressed about his personal persecutions; and the attacks which were directed against the whole Order he bore with great •cheerfulness, as he concluded that as Satan was the author of them, he must have suffered some severe loss through the labors of the Society. On the contrary, when one day he was told that in a certain country, the members of his Order had nothing to suffer, he became very thoughtful, and said that he feared they were negligent in doing their duty, since they were not persecuted. He also prophesied that the Society of Jesus would always have the glory of being persecuted by the enemies of Christ and of the holy church. He frequently recalled the words of Christ: “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.” The greater and more frequent the persecutions were, the more the Society increased, and the more extended was its usefulness among the faithful, the heretics and the heathens, to the indescribable consolation of its founder. Pope Marcellus II said that, since the days of the Apostles, he had never read of any one whose labors God had blessed with such abundant fruit during his life time, as those of Saint Ignatius. The holy founder lived long enough to sec his Order spread in all parts of the world, divided into twelve provinces, with more than one hundred colleges and houses. He heard how, by the unwearying labors of the Fathers, whole nations were converted from their idolatry to the true faith, numberless heretics brought back to the Church, and everywhere Catholics were strengthened in that faith, without which there is no salvation. He himself heard and saw how youth was carefully instructed in the Catholic religion, in the fear of God, and in all branches of knowledge; and how the people in general were animated to greater piety, to the more frequent use of the Holy Sacraments and all Christian virtues. He heard of the many miracles wrought by Saint Francis Xavier, and other Apostolic men, in testimony to the true faith. He had the happiness of hearing that some members of his Order had heroically given their blood for the faith of Christ; and from every land he received news of the good which his children were incessantly doing for the honor of God and the salvation of souls. All this filled the heart of the holy man with inexpressible joy, as he desired nothing more fervently than that the Almighty might be known and honored by all men. He was frequently heard to exclaim: “Oh God! that all men might know and love Thee.” Meanwhile his own soul burned with the desire to see, face to face, the God whom he loved as his highest good. This desire grew to such an extent that the mere thought of death, or a glance at heaven, drew tears from his eyes, and made him disgusted with the whole world. Often, while looking up at the sky, he would cry out:
“Oh! how I despise the world, when I look up to Heaven.”
He begged God to free his soul from the fetters of mortality. God heard his prayer. A fever seized him, and although the physicians pronounced it not dangerous, Ignatius knew that it was a messenger to call him away. He asked for the last Sacraments and devoutly received them. When evening came, he called one of the oldest Fathers of the Order, and sent him to ask for the Holy Father’s last blessing and a plenary indulgence. He passed the. night in an almost continual ecstasy, until an hour after sunrise, when, with eyes raised to heaven, and with the sacred names of Jesus and Mary on his lips, he ended his life, on July 31st, 1556, in the 64th year of his age.
At the same hour when this took place, the Saint, arrayed in bright, shining light, appeared to a pious widow, named Margaret Gigli, at Bologna, and announced to her his death. The unexpected death of the great founder filled Rome with mourning, and everywhere was heard the lamentation: “The holy man is dead.” Many did not hesitate to honor him as a Saint immediately, and ask his intercession with the Almighty. The resting place of his holy relics was twice changed. At the first interment, an eminent servant of the Almighty heard heavenly music during two days; at the second, many saw bright stars upon his shrine.
Holy men and women, who lived at the time of Saint Ignatius, admired and praised the Saint and the Society he founded. Saint Philip Neri, who lived at Rome, said that he had seen the countenance of Ignatius, several times, resplendent with a heavenly light. In all doubts and fears, he resorted to Saint Ignatius for counsel and comfort. To two members of the Society, whom he met one day, he said: “You are sons of a great father, to whom I owe much; he taught me the science of prayer.” After the Saint’s death, Philip sent to the tomb to commend to him his cares, and according to his own words, received marvelous comfort and assistance. Saint Francis Xavier esteemed the Saint so highly while he still lived, that he called him the beloved father of his soul, and a Saint. He cut the name of Saint Ignatius from a letter which he had received from him, placed it in a reliquary and carried it about him, and wrought many miracles with it. He always wrote to him on his knees, as a sign of great reverence for him, and read the letters he received from him in the same manner. I must omit the praise bestowed on Saint Ignatius by other Saints, as, Saint Francis of Sales, Saint Charles Borromeo, Saint Cajetan, Saint Andrew Avellino, Saint Thomas of Villanova, Saint Teresa, Saint Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, and many others. The pious Louis of Granada, a Dominican, who lived at the time that Saint Ignatius and his order were bitterly persecuted, showed himself a warm friend and powerful protector and admirer of both until his death. Neither shall I mention here what many Popes, bishops and other high dignitaries of the Church have said in praise of the Society of Jesus, nor repeat the high commendations given by crowned heads and great statesmen, although it might add greatly to the glory of the holy founder.
We will only consider somewhat more attentively the words of the Roman Calendar of the Saints. It states that the Saint was remarkable for holiness and miracles. Much is contained in these few words. Ignatius was remarkable for his holiness. The heroic virtues, which so brilliantly shone in him, are a proof of this; his firm and intense faith, his unwavering trust in God; his fervent love of the Saviour and of his neighbor; his tender affection for the passion and death of Christ; his filial devotion to the Virgin Mother; his constant self-abnegation; his perfect resignation to the Divine Will; his invincible patience, admirable meekness, deep humility, and insatiable zeal to labor for the honor of the Most High, and to save souls for Heaven. Especial instances of all these virtues are to be found in the book which treats of the devotion of the Ten Wednesdays in honor of Saint Ignatius.
Ignatius was also remarkable for his miracles. God worked many wonders through him during his life-time. One of his disciples who was dangerously sick, was healed by embracing him; another was cured of epilepsy. He relieved a noble matron from the Evil Spirit of whom she had been possessed four years, and healed several others of different maladies. He even restored life to a young man in Barcelona who had hung himself in despair and who was pronounced dead by all who saw him. God wrought still more miracles at the intercession of his faithful servant, after his death. In the process of his canonization we find two hundred miracles, which were tested by the ecclesiastical authorities and were found to rest on the authority of incontestable witnesses under oath. After the canonization their number was still increased. During his life also many other gifts and graces were granted him by God, such as the gift of tears; the gift of reading the hearts of others; the spirit of prayer which he possessed in so eminent a degree, that he often fell into ecstasies which lasted several days, and finally the gift of prophecy and revelations. It is known that he said to a youth at Barcelona, who desired to follow him and live in poverty: “You will remain in the world and become a lawyer, and the father of several children, one of whom will, in your place, enter the Order which God will found through me, His unworthy servant.” At Antwerp he said to a merchant: “There will come a time when you will found a College in your country for the members of the Order which God will establish through me, His unworthy servant.” All this took place exactly as he had foretold. The number of the revelations and visions with which he was blessed is very large. Besides the visit of Saint Peter, the Blessed Virgin and our Lord, mentioned in the above pages, it is known that Christ appeared several times to him, at Manresa, during his year of penance; and also later during his holy life. The Blessed Virgin also appeared to him in like manner, especially at the time when he wrote his book of the Spiritual Exercises. The Roman Breviary asserts that he was so enlightened by the grace of God, that he used to say, that if there were no gospel, he would be ready to die for his faith on the evidences which the Almighty had revealed him at Manresa. In one of his ecstacies, so much was revealed to him of the incomprehensible mystery of the Holy Trinity, that he wrote a book which excited the most profound astonishment of all learned men. At another time, the happy death of two of his companions was revealed to him. The first was made known to him whilst he was at Monte Cassino, where, during his prayers, he saw the soul of Father Hozes, surrounded by a heavenly splendor, carried by angels into Heaven. The second was when on his way to say mass for his sick disciple at Saint Peter’s Church, in Rome, suddenly stopping in his walk, he looked fixedly up to Heaven, then turning to go home, he said: “Let us go home, for our Father Coduri has departed.” From this it was concluded that he had seen the soul of the dead ascending to heaven. To the visions which Saint Ignatius had of others, I will add one that another had of him. At Cologne, on the Rhine, lived Leonard Kessel, a priest of the Society of Jesus, who had an intense desire to see Saint Ignatius, who at that time resided at Rome. He begged permission to go, for this purpose, to Rome, which, however, was not granted him. While one day praying in his room, his holy Father Ignatius suddenly stood before him, and after having for some time kindly discoursed with him, as suddenly disappeared. All this proves that Ignatius was indeed remarkable for holiness, miracles and other divine gifts. In conclusion, I will explain why Saint Ignatius is always represented in priestly robes, with the most holy name of Jesus on his breast and a book in his hand. His priestly robes denote that he was, in his time, an ornament to the priesthood, and eminently sanctified this dignity. It is further a sign of the great devotion with which the Saint said mass. He offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for the first time on Christmas-night, at Rome, before the manger of Our Lord, after eighteen months of preparation. It was on that occasion and frequently afterwards, that during Holy Mass, bright rays of light surrounded him, that he was raised from the ground, and his face suffused with tears of devotion. The more to satisfy his ardor, he generally said Mass in the chapel of the house, passing a whole hour in the act, during which he frequently fell into ecstacy, and had the grace of seeing Christ visible in the Host. The rapture was so intense, that it was feared his veins would burst, and he had often to be carried to his room in a state of exhaustion. He passed two hours in prayer before and after mass, whenever the duties of his office permitted.
The name of Jesus on his breast, is an evidence of the great love he bore for the Saviour. This and no other name would he give to his order, that its members might never forget how Christ labored and suffered, and be thus encouraged to shrink from no labor for the Most High, to fear no danger, no persecution nor even death in the pursuance of that which had become their sacred duty. The Saint used to say that nothing could more effectually give us courage to endure, than the remembrance of this holy name. By the book which he holds in his hand, are designated the Rules which he wrote for his society, and which have been pronounced, by those able to judge, a most perfect piece of human wisdom. While he was writing this book, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him several times, and almost dictated what he wrote. The Council of Trent called it a pious Institution, approved by the Apostolic See, in which there was nothing to be altered. Pope Julius III said, in a Bull, that there was nothing in the Institute of the Society of Jesus, that was not pious and holy. Pope Paul III who was the first to approve and confirm the Society, when he was informed of the praiseworthy deeds which its members, in accordance with its rules, had performed, exclaimed: “The finger of God is here!” The words: “To the greater glory of God,” which are read in the book, are those which Saint Ignatius was wont to use, and they express the whole aim of his Rules which is no other than the advancement of the honor of God and the salvation of souls.
You will find much in the life of Saint Ignatius which may serve you for instruction and example; and I will, in a few words, aid you to find some of the principal points.
• The reform and holiness of the Saint began by reading a devout book, the Lives of the Saints. As I told you elsewhere, the reading of pious books, especially the Lives of the Saints, is of very great spiritual benefit; while the reading of a wicked work does intense harm. The vices and consequent damnation of many are the effects of reading dangerous books; while the holiness and final salvation of others, had their beginning in the lessons received while reading pious books. Judge from this in which direction your duty lies.
• The purpose of all the actions of Saint Ignatius was to promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and as he sought in everything only the glory of God, he always selected what was agreeable, nay most agreeable to Him. To do that which is always most pleasing to the Almighty, has always been the aim and distinguishing feature of all great saints on earth. To do only what is pleasing to God and to avoid that which is displeasing to Him, is the duty of every Christian. To avoid only mortal sin, is the sign of a very indifferent man, who neither loves God, nor is concerned about his salvation. Among which of these will you be ranked? Endeavor to have a place among the first, and do nothing except what you are convinced is pleasing to the Almighty, and avoid all that you know is displeasing to His Majesty. Perform all your works for the honor of God and the salvation of your soul.
• Saint Ignatius was called the man who always spoke of God and looked constantly to Heaven. Of that of which the heart is full, the mouth will always speak, while the eyes will ever glance towards it. Where do you turn your eyes, your thoughts, and what is inferred from your words? What is the object of your love, your desires? Examine yourself and correct where correction is needed. Finally, often pronounce these words of Saint Ignatius: “Conquer thyself.” He himself tried, from the moment of his conversion till his end, to conquer himself internally and externally. In this way he became holy. He impressed upon every one whom he tried to lead to a devout life, the maxim “Conquer thyself.” He considered this not only useful, but necessary to salvation. And so it is. The world is full of care and misery, because Adam could not overcome himself and refrain from partaking of the forbidden fruit. Hell is full of souls who, because they could not control themselves, went to endless destruction; while heaven is filled with those who practiced self-abnegation, and thus worked qut their salvation. If you will escape Hell and gain Heaven, conquer yourself; first, wherever this is demanded by a law of God or the Church; and secondly, in things which depend on your own will. You have daily opportunities for this. Overcome yourself in speaking, hearing and seeing; in eating and drinking; in amusements; in dressing; in working; in praying; in visiting the churches; in confession; in avoiding occasions and persons dangerous to your spiritual welfare. Conquer yourself when your anger is aroused; when you are wronged; when Satan tempts you to sin; when men tempt you. In one word, conquer yourself in all things. How can you do this? Ask your confessor and he will tell you. This is the road in which the saints walked and in which you too must walk if you would enter Heaven. Therefore, let this maxim of Saint Ignatius be your constant companion: “Conquer thyself.” There is no other way to become holy than to be dead to oneself. Hence, Saint Ignatius says further:
“Take courage and strive manfully. One heroic act of self-abnegation is more pleasing to the Almighty than many other good works.”
- Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus”. , 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 March 2018. Web. 31 July 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/weningers-lives-of-the-saints-saint-ignatius-of-loyola-founder-of-the-society-of-jesus/>
Sant' Ignazio di Loyola Sacerdote
Azpeitia, Spagna, c. 1491 - Roma, 31 luglio 1556
Il grande protagonista della Riforma cattolica nel XVI secolo, nacque ad Azpeitia, un paese basco, nel 1491. Era avviato alla vita del cavaliere, la conversione avvenne durante una convalescenza, quando si trovò a leggere dei libri cristiani. All'abbazia benedettina di Monserrat fece una confessione generale, si spogliò degli abiti cavallereschi e fece voto di castità perpetua. Nella cittadina di Manresa per più di un anno condusse vita di preghiera e di penitenza; fu qui che vivendo presso il fiume Cardoner decise di fondare una Compagnia di consacrati. Da solo in una grotta prese a scrivere una serie di meditazioni e di norme, che successivamente rielaborate formarono i celebri Esercizi Spirituali. L'attività dei Preti pellegrini, quelli che in seguito saranno i Gesuiti, si sviluppa un po'in tutto il mondo. Il 27 settembre 1540 papa Paolo III approvò la Compagnia di Gesù. Il 31 luglio 1556 Ignazio di Loyola morì. Fu proclamato santo il 12 marzo 1622 da papa Gregorio XV. (Avvenire)
Etimologia: Ignazio = di fuoco, igneo, dal latino
Emblema: IHS (monogramma di Cristo)
Martirologio Romano: Memoria di sant’Ignazio di Loyola, sacerdote, che, nato nella Guascogna in Spagna, visse alla corte del re e nell’esercito, finché, gravemente ferito, si convertì a Dio; compiuti gli studi teologici a Parigi, unì a sé i primi compagni, che poi costituì nella Compagnia di Gesù a Roma, dove svolse un fruttuoso ministero, dedicandosi alla stesura di opere e alla formazione dei discepoli, a maggior gloria di Dio.
Il primo scritto che racconta la vita, la vocazione e la missione di s. Ignazio, è stato redatto proprio da lui, in Italia è conosciuto come “Autobiografia”, ed egli racconta la sua chiamata e la sua missione, presentandosi in terza persona, per lo più designato con il nome di “pellegrino”; apparentemente è la descrizione di lunghi viaggi o di esperienze curiose e aneddotiche, ma in realtà è la descrizione di un pellegrinaggio spirituale ed interiore.
Il grande protagonista della Riforma cattolica nel XVI secolo, nacque ad Azpeitia un paese basco, nell’estate del 1491, il suo nome era Iñigo Lopez de Loyola, settimo ed ultimo figlio maschio di Beltran Ibañez de Oñaz e di Marina Sanchez de Licona, genitori appartenenti al casato dei Loyola, uno dei più potenti della provincia di Guipúzcoa, che possedevano una fortezza padronale con vasti campi, prati e ferriere.
Iñigo perse la madre subito dopo la nascita, ed era destinato alla carriera sacerdotale secondo il modo di pensare dell’epoca, nell’infanzia ricevé per questo anche la tonsura.
Ma egli ben presto dimostrò di preferire la vita del cavaliere come già per due suoi fratelli; il padre prima di morire, nel 1506 lo mandò ad Arévalo in Castiglia, da don Juan Velázquez de Cuellar, ministro dei Beni del re Ferdinando il Cattolico, affinché ricevesse un’educazione adeguata; accompagnò don Juan come paggio, nelle cittadine dove si trasferiva la corte allora itinerante, acquisendo buone maniere che tanto influiranno sulla sua futura opera.
Nel 1515 Iñigo venne accusato di eccessi d’esuberanza e di misfatti accaduti durante il carnevale ad Azpeitia e insieme al fratello don Piero, subì un processo che non sfociò in sentenza, forse per l’intervento di alti personaggi; questo per comprendere che era di temperamento focoso, corteggiava le dame, si divertiva come i cavalieri dell’epoca.
Morto nel 1517 don Velázquez, il giovane Iñigo si trasferì presso don Antonio Manrique, duca di Najera e viceré di Navarra, al cui servizio si trovò a combattere varie volte, fra cui nell’assedio del castello di Pamplona ad opera dei francesi; era il 20 maggio 1521, quando una palla di cannone degli assedianti lo ferì ad una gamba.
Trasportato nella sua casa di Loyola, subì due dolorose operazioni alla gamba, che comunque rimase più corta dell’altra, costringendolo a zoppicare per tutta la vita.
Ma il Signore stava operando nel plasmare l’anima di quell’irrequieto giovane; durante la lunga convalescenza, non trovando in casa libri cavallereschi e poemi a lui graditi, prese a leggere, prima svogliatamente e poi con attenzione, due libri ingialliti fornitagli dalla cognata.
Si trattava della “Vita di Cristo” di Lodolfo Cartusiano e la “Leggenda Aurea” (vita di santi) di Jacopo da Varagine (1230-1298), dalla meditazione di queste letture, si convinse che l’unico vero Signore al quale si poteva dedicare la fedeltà di cavaliere era Gesù stesso.
Per iniziare questa sua conversione di vita, decise appena ristabilito, di andare pellegrino a Gerusalemme dove era certo, sarebbe stato illuminato sul suo futuro; partì nel febbraio 1522 da Loyola diretto a Barcellona, fermandosi all’abbazia benedettina di Monserrat dove fece una confessione generale, si spogliò degli abiti cavallereschi vestendo quelli di un povero e fece il primo passo verso una vita religiosa con il voto di castità perpetua.
Un’epidemia di peste, cosa ricorrente in quei tempi, gl’impedì di raggiungere Barcellona che ne era colpita, per cui si fermò nella cittadina di Manresa e per più di un anno condusse vita di preghiera e di penitenza; fu qui che vivendo poveramente presso il fiume Cardoner “ricevé una grande illuminazione”, sulla possibilità di fondare una Compagnia di consacrati e che lo trasformò completamente.
In una grotta dei dintorni, in piena solitudine prese a scrivere una serie di meditazioni e di norme, che successivamente rielaborate formarono i celebri “Esercizi Spirituali”, i quali costituiscono ancora oggi, la vera fonte di energia dei Gesuiti e dei loro allievi.
Arrivato nel 1523 a Barcellona, Iñigo di Loyola, invece di imbarcarsi per Gerusalemme s’imbarcò per Gaeta e da qui arrivò a Roma la Domenica delle Palme, fu ricevuto e benedetto dall’olandese Adriano VI, ultimo papa non italiano fino a Giovanni Paolo II.
Imbarcatosi a Venezia arrivò in Terrasanta visitando tutti i luoghi santificati dalla presenza di Gesù; avrebbe voluto rimanere lì ma il Superiore dei Francescani, responsabile apostolico dei Luoghi Santi, glielo proibì e quindi ritornò nel 1524 in Spagna.
Intuì che per svolgere adeguatamente l’apostolato, occorreva approfondire le sue scarse conoscenze teologiche, cominciando dalla base e a 33 anni prese a studiare grammatica latina a Barcellona e poi gli studi universitari ad Alcalà e a Salamanca.
Per delle incomprensioni ed equivoci, non poté completare gli studi in Spagna, per cui nel 1528 si trasferì a Parigi rimanendovi fino al 1535, ottenendo il dottorato in filosofia.
Ma già nel 1534 con i primi compagni, i giovani maestri Pietro Favre, Francesco Xavier, Lainez, Salmerón, Rodrigues, Bobadilla, fecero voto nella Cappella di Montmartre di vivere in povertà e castità, era il 15 agosto, inoltre promisero di recarsi a Gerusalemme e se ciò non fosse stato possibile, si sarebbero messi a disposizione del papa, che avrebbe deciso il loro genere di vita apostolica e il luogo dove esercitarla; nel contempo Iñigo latinizzò il suo nome in Ignazio, ricordando il santo vescovo martire s. Ignazio d’Antiochia.
A causa della guerra fra Venezia e i Turchi, il viaggio in Terrasanta sfumò, per cui si presentarono dal papa Paolo III (1534-1549), il quale disse: “Perché desiderate tanto andare a Gerusalemme? Per portare frutto nella Chiesa di Dio l’Italia è una buona Gerusalemme”; e tre anni dopo si cominciò ad inviare in tutta Europa e poi in Asia e altri Continenti, quelli che inizialmente furono chiamati “Preti Pellegrini” o “Preti Riformati” in seguito chiamati Gesuiti.
Ignazio di Loyola nel 1537 si trasferì in Italia prima a Bologna e poi a Venezia, dove fu ordinato sacerdote; insieme a due compagni si avvicinò a Roma e a 14 km a nord della città, in località ‘La Storta’ ebbe una visione che lo confermò nell’idea di fondare una “Compagnia” che portasse il nome di Gesù.
Il 27 settembre 1540 papa Polo III approvò la Compagnia di Gesù con la bolla “Regimini militantis Ecclesiae”.
L’8 aprile 1541 Ignazio fu eletto all’unanimità Preposito Generale e il 22 aprile fece con i suoi sei compagni, la professione nella Basilica di S. Paolo; nel 1544 padre Ignazio, divenuto l’apostolo di Roma, prese a redigere le “Costituzioni” del suo Ordine, completate nel 1550, mentre i suoi figli si sparpagliavano per il mondo.
Rimasto a Roma per volere del papa, coordinava l’attività dell’Ordine, nonostante soffrisse dolori lancinanti allo stomaco, dovuti ad una calcolosi biliare e a una cirrosi epatica mal curate, limitava a quattro ore il sonno per adempiere a tutti i suoi impegni e per dedicarsi alla preghiera e alla celebrazione della Messa.
Il male fu progressivo limitandolo man mano nelle attività, finché il 31 luglio 1556, il soldato di Cristo, morì in una modestissima camera della Casa situata vicina alla Cappella di Santa Maria della Strada a Roma.
Fu proclamato beato il 27 luglio 1609 da papa Paolo V e proclamato santo il 12 marzo 1622 da papa Gregorio XV.
Si completa la scheda sul Santo Fondatore, colonna della Chiesa e iniziatore di quella riforma coronata dal Concilio di Trento, con una panoramica di notizie sul suo Ordine, la “Compagnia di Gesù”.
Le “Costituzioni” redatte da s. Ignazio fissano lo spirito della Compagnia, essa è un Ordine di “chierici regolari” analogo a quelli sorti nello stesso periodo, ma accentuante anche nella denominazione scelta dal suo Fondatore, l’aspetto dell’azione militante al servizio della Chiesa.
La Compagnia adattò lo spirito del monachesimo, al necessario dinamismo di un apostolato da svolgersi in un mondo in rapida trasformazione spirituale e sociale, com’era quello del XVI secolo; alla stabilità della vita monastica sostituì una grande mobilità dei suoi membri, legati però a particolari obblighi di obbedienza ai superiori e al papa; alle preghiere del coro sostituì l’orazione mentale.
Considerò inoltre essenziale la preparazione e l’aggiornamento culturale dei suoi membri. È governata da un “Preposito generale”.
I gradi della formazione dei sacerdoti gesuiti, comprendono due anni di noviziato, gli aspiranti sono detti ‘scolastici’, gli studi approfonditi sono inframezzati dall’ordinazione sacerdotale (solitamente dopo il terzo anno di filosofia), il giovane gesuita verso i 30 anni diventa professo ed emette i tre voti solenni di povertà, castità e obbedienza, più in quarto voto di obbedienza speciale al papa; accanto ai ‘professi’ vi sono i “coadiutori spirituali” che emettono soltanto i tre voti semplici.
Non c’è un ramo femminile né un Terz’Ordine. La spiritualità della Compagnia si basa sugli ‘Esercizi Spirituali’ di s. Ignazio e si contraddistingue per l’abbandono alla volontà di Dio espresso nell’assoluta obbedienza ai superiori; in una profonda vita interiore alimentata da costanti pratiche spirituali, nella mortificazione dell’egoismo e dell’orgoglio; nello zelo apostolico; nella totale fedeltà alla Santa Sede.
I Gesuiti non possono possedere personalmente rendite fisse, consentite solo ai Collegi e alle Case di formazione; i professi fanno anche il voto speciale di non aspirare a cariche e dignità ecclesiastiche.
Come attività, in origine la Compagnia si presentava come un gruppo missionario a disposizione del pontefice e pronto a svolgere qualsiasi compito questi volesse affidargli per la “maggior gloria di Dio”.
Quindi svolsero attività prevalentemente itinerante, facendo fronte alle più urgenti necessità di predicazione, di catechesi, di cura di anime, di missioni speciali, di riforma del clero, operante nella Controriforma e nell’evangelizzazione dei nuovi Paesi (Oriente, Africa, America).
Nel 1547, s. Ignazio affidò alla sua Compagnia, un ministero inizialmente non previsto, quello dell’insegnamento, che diventò una delle attività principali dell’Ordine e uno dei principali strumenti della sua diffusione e della sua forza, lo testimoniano i prestigiosi Collegi sparsi per il mondo.
Alla morte di s. Ignazio, avvenuta come già detto nel 1556, la Compagnia contava già mille membri e nel 1615, con la guida dei vari Generali succedutisi era a 13.000 membri, diffondendosi in tutta Europa, subendo anche i primi martiri (Campion, Ogilvie, in Inghilterra).
Ma soprattutto ebbe un’attività missionaria di rilievo iniziata nel 1541 con s. Francesco Xavier, inviato in India e nel Giappone, dove i successivi gesuiti subirono come gli altri missionari, sanguinose persecuzioni.
Più duratura fu la loro opera in Cina con padre Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) e in America Meridionale, specie in Brasile, con le famose ‘riduzioni’. Più sfortunata fu l’opera dei Gesuiti in America Settentrionale, in cui furono martiri i santi Giovanni de Brebeuf, Isacco Jogues, Carlo Garnier e altri cinque missionari.
Col passare del tempo, nei secoli XVII e XVIII i Gesuiti con la loro accresciuta potenza furono al centro di dispute dottrinarie e di violenti conflitti politico-ecclesiatici, troppo lunghi e numerosi da descrivere in questa sede; che alimentarono l’odio di tanti movimenti antireligiosi e l’astio dei Domenicani, dei sovrani dell’epoca e dei parlamentari e governi di vari Stati.
Si arrivò così allo scioglimento prima negli Stati di Portogallo, Spagna, Napoli, Parma e Piacenza e infine sotto la pressione dei sovrani europei, anche allo scioglimento totale della Compagnia di Gesù nel 1773, da parte di papa Clemente XIV.
I Gesuiti però sopravvissero in Russia sotto la protezione dell’imperatrice Caterina II; nel 1814 papa Pio VII diede il via alla restaurazione della Compagnia.
Da allora i suoi membri sono stati sempre presenti nelle dispute morali, dottrinarie, filosofiche, teologiche e ideologiche, che hanno interessato la vita morale e istituzionale della società non solo cattolica.
Nel 1850 sorse la prestigiosa e diffusa rivista “La Civiltà Cattolica”, voce autorevole del pensiero della Compagnia; altre espulsioni si ebbero nel 1880 e 1901 interessanti molti Stati europei e sud americani.
Nell’annuario del 1966 i Gesuiti erano 36.000, divisi in 79 province nel mondo e 77 territori di missione. In una statistica aggiornata al 2002, la Compagnia di Gesù annovera tra i suoi figli 49 Santi di cui 34 martiri e 147 Beati di cui 139 martiri; a loro si aggiungono centinaia di Servi di Dio e Venerabili, avviati sulla strada di un riconoscimento ufficiale della loro santità o del loro martirio.
L’alto numero di martiri, testimonia la vocazione missionaria dei Gesuiti, votati all’affermazione della ‘maggior gloria di Dio’, nonostante i pericoli e le persecuzioni a cui sono andati incontro, sin dalla loro fondazione.
Autore: Antonio Borrelli
SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/23800
Sabato, 22 aprile 2006
DISCORSO DI SUA SANTITÀ BENEDETTO XVI
AI PADRI E FRATELLI DELLA COMPAGNIA DI GESÙ
AI PADRI E FRATELLI DELLA COMPAGNIA DI GESÙ
Sabato, 22 aprile 2006
Cari Padri e Fratelli della Compagnia di Gesù,
è con grande gioia che vi incontro in questa storica Basilica di San Pietro, dopo la Santa Messa celebrata per voi dal Card. Angelo Sodano, mio Segretario di Stato, in occasione di varie ricorrenze giubilari della Famiglia Ignaziana. A tutti rivolgo il mio cordiale saluto. Saluto in primo luogo il Preposito Generale, P. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, e lo ringrazio per le cortesi parole con cui mi ha manifestato i vostri comuni sentimenti. Saluto i Signori Cardinali con i Vescovi ed i sacerdoti e quanti hanno voluto partecipare all'odierna manifestazione. Insieme ai Padri e ai Fratelli, saluto anche gli amici della Compagnia di Gesù qui presenti, e tra loro i molti religiosi e religiose, i membri delle Comunità di Vita Cristiana e dell'Apostolato della Preghiera, gli alunni ed ex-alunni con le loro famiglie di Roma, d'Italia e di Stonyhurst in Inghilterra, i docenti e gli studenti delle istituzioni accademiche, i numerosi collaboratori e collaboratrici. L'odierna vostra visita mi offre l'opportunità di ringraziare insieme a voi il Signore per aver concesso alla vostra Compagnia il dono di uomini di straordinaria santità e di eccezionale zelo apostolico quali sono sant'Ignazio di Loyola, san Francesco Saverio e il beato Pietro Favre. Essi sono per voi i Padri e i Fondatori: è giusto, perciò, che in quest'anno centenario li ricordiate con gratitudine e guardiate a loro come a guide illuminate e sicure del vostro cammino spirituale e della vostra attività apostolica.
Sant'Ignazio di Loyola fu anzitutto un uomo di Dio, che pose al primo posto nella sua vita Dio, la sua maggior gloria e il suo maggior servizio; fu un uomo di profonda preghiera, che aveva il suo centro e il suo culmine nella Celebrazione Eucaristica quotidiana. In tal modo egli ha lasciato ai suoi seguaci un'eredità spirituale preziosa che non deve essere smarrita o dimenticata. Proprio perché uomo di Dio, sant'Ignazio fu fedele servitore della Chiesa, nella quale vide e venerò la sposa del Signore e la madre dei cristiani. E dal desiderio di servire la Chiesa nella maniera più utile ed efficace è nato il voto di speciale obbedienza al Papa, da lui stesso qualificato come "il nostro principio e principale fondamento" (MI, Serie III, I, p. 162). Questo carattere ecclesiale, così specifico della Compagnia di Gesù, continui ad essere presente nelle vostre persone e nella vostra attività apostolica, cari Gesuiti, affinché possiate venire incontro fedelmente alle urgenti attuali necessità della Chiesa. Tra queste mi pare importante segnalare l'impegno culturale nei campi della teologia e della filosofia, tradizionali ambiti di presenza apostolica della Compagnia di Gesù, come pure il dialogo con la cultura moderna, che se da una parte vanta meravigliosi progressi in campo scientifico, resta fortemente segnata dallo scientismo positivista e materialista.
Certamente, lo sforzo di promuovere in cordiale collaborazione con le altre realtà ecclesiali, una cultura ispirata ai valori del Vangelo, richiede una intensa preparazione spirituale e culturale. Proprio per questo, sant'Ignazio volle che i giovani gesuiti fossero formati per lunghi anni nella vita spirituale e negli studi. È bene che questa tradizione sia mantenuta e rafforzata, data pure la crescente complessità e vastità della cultura moderna. Un'altra grande preoccupazione per lui fu l'educazione cristiana e la formazione culturale dei giovani: di qui l'impulso che egli diede all'istituzione dei "collegi", i quali, dopo la sua morte, si diffusero in Europa e nel mondo. Continuate, cari Gesuiti, questo importante apostolato mantenendo inalterato lo spirito del vostro Fondatore.
Parlando di sant'Ignazio non posso tralasciare il ricordo di san Francesco Saverio, di cui lo scorso 7 aprile si è celebrato il quinto centenario della nascita: non solo la loro storia si è intrecciata per lunghi anni da Parigi e Roma, ma un unico desiderio - si potrebbe dire, un'unica passione - li mosse e sostenne nelle loro pur differenti vicende umane: la passione di dare a Dio-Trinità una gloria sempre più grande e di lavorare per l'annunzio del Vangelo di Cristo ai popoli che lo ignoravano. San Francesco Saverio, che il mio predecessore Pio XI di venerata memoria ha proclamato "patrono delle Missioni cattoliche", avvertì come sua missione quella di "aprire vie nuove" al Vangelo "nell'immenso continente asiatico". Il suo apostolato in Oriente durò appena dieci anni, ma la sua fecondità si è rivelata mirabile nei quattro secoli e mezzo di vita della Compagnia di Gesù, poiché il suo esempio ha suscitato tra i giovani gesuiti moltissime vocazioni missionarie, e tuttora egli resta un richiamo perché si continui l'azione missionaria nei grandi Paesi del continente asiatico.
Se san Francesco Saverio lavorò nei Paesi d'Oriente, il suo confratello e amico fin dagli anni parigini, il beato Pietro Favre, savoiardo, nato il 13 aprile 1506, operò nei Paesi europei, dove i fedeli cristiani aspiravano ad una vera riforma della Chiesa. Uomo modesto, sensibile, di profonda vita interiore e dotato del dono di stringere rapporti di amicizia con persone di ogni genere, attirando in tal modo molti giovani alla Compagnia, il beato Favre trascorse la sua breve esistenza in diversi Paesi europei, specialmente in Germania, dove per ordine di Paolo III prese parte, nelle diete di Worms, di Ratisbona e di Spira, ai colloqui con i capi della Riforma. Ebbe così modo di praticare in maniera eccezionale il voto di speciale obbedienza al Papa "circa le missioni", divenendo per tutti i gesuiti del futuro un modello da seguire.
Cari Padri e Fratelli della Compagnia, quest'oggi voi guardate con particolare devozione alla Beata Vergine Maria, ricordando che il 22 aprile del 1541 Ignazio e i suoi primi compagni emisero i voti solenni dinanzi all'immagine di Maria nella Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura. Continui Maria a vegliare sulla Compagnia di Gesù perché ogni suo membro porti nella sua persona l'"immagine" di Cristo Crocifisso per aver parte alla sua risurrezione. Assicuro per questo un ricordo nella preghiera, mentre a ciascuno di voi qui presente ed all'intera vostra famiglia spirituale imparto volentieri la mia benedizione, che estendo anche a tutte le altre persone religiose e consacrate che sono intervenute a questa Udienza.
© Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/it/speeches/2006/april/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060422_gesuiti.html
Voir aussi : http://www.jesuites.com/ignace/index.htm