Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola

St Ignatius of Loyola was born in the Basque town of Loyola in Northern Spain in 1491. His father was a nobleman and St Ignatius spent much of his early life at court. He joined the army of the Duke of Nagura and was badly injured after his leg was shattered by a cannon ball at the siege of Pamplona in 1521.

St Ignatius had to spend much time in recovery and as he convalesced, he began reading the only books available, the life of Jesus and the life of the Saints.  This awoke something in St Ignatius and his conversion began. He then went on pilgrimage to Our Lady’s shrine in Monserrat, near Barcelona and hung up his sword before the famous portrait of Our Lady.

He remained almost a year at Manresa nearby Monserrat in prayer. However, at times this brought him great peace but at other times his prayer, fasting, penance and reception of the Sacraments brought no comfort. This experience was to be the catalyst to begin writing his spiritual exercises, a manual for training the soul to grow daily to God.

For the next eleven years he studied in Europe’s universities and along with six companions, one of which was St Francis Xavier, they vowed to live in poverty, chastity and obedience and go to the Holy Land. When this became problematic, they offered their apostolic service to the Pope. This society was formally approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 and St Ignatius became the Society of Jesus’s first general (Jesuits). Their spirituality was to be centred on the Trinity, Christ and the Eucharist, their motto being “ad majorem Dei gloriam”, “for the greater glory of God”

St Ignatius of Loyola was a prudent priest, full of charity, gentleness and compassion, who had a great zeal for Christ, the Catholic church and to the souls entrusted to him. He was an influential theologian in the counter-reformation as was the Society of Jesus through their educational and missionary work. St Ignatius died in 1556. He was canonised by Pope Gregory XV on the 12th of March 1622.

Prayer composed by St Ignatius of Loyola and recommended it to Penitents

“Receive Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I am 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”. Amen



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