Ignatius Loyola

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IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA (INIGO LOPEZ DE RECALDE): born at the castle of Loyola, near Aspeitia (16 m. e.w. of San Sebastian) in the Basque province of Gúipuzcos, Spain, probably Christmas night, 1491; died at Rome July 31 1556. He was the founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic religious order established to strengthen the Church against Protestantism.

Ignatius was the youngest of thirteen children. He came of a knightly family, spent his youth at the court of Ferdinand, had few educational advantages, and early entered the army. He was highly sentimental and fond of stories of chivalry. Severely wounded at the battle of Pampeluna (May 20, 1521); he was for months an invalid in his father's castle. During this period of severe suffering a life of Christ and legends of the saints came into his hands. He read them with avidity, and became fired with an ambition to follow Christ in a life of self-denying labor and to emulate the heroic deeds of Francis of Assisi, Dominic, and other great monastic leaders. Amatory and ambitious thoughts he attributed to Satan, and aspirations after holiness and Christian service to the Holy Spirit. He resolved to devote his life to the conversion of infidels in the Holy Land.

During this time he drafted his "Ejercicios espirituales" (Spiritual Exercises) which were to exert a potent influence in the winning and training of converts and in revolutionizing the methods of propagandism in the papal Church; "the mill into which all Jesuits are cast; they emerge with characters and talents diverse; but the imprint remains ineffaceable" (Cretineau-Joly).

On recovering he exchanged clothes with a beggar and visited the Dominican monastery of Montserrat (Mar. 25,1522), where he hung his military accouterments before an image of the Virgin. He soon entered the monastery of Manresa, where he practised the most rigorous asceticism with frequent confessions and masses and the performance of the most disagreeable and menial tasks.

He is said to have had visions of the Trinity, of the mystery of the creation, of the union of deity and humanity in Christ (in the Eucharist). The contemplation of any religious act or meditation on any of the great facts of redemption brought before his susceptible mind realistic images of the events concerned. The Virgin became the object of his chivalrous (almost idolatrous) devotion. Greatly concerned about his sins and the sins of the world, he pictured most vividly the continuous conflict between Christ and his hosts and Satan and his hosts. Military imagery played a prominent part in his religious contemplations. In 1548 Spiritual Exercises was finally printed, and he was brought before the Roman Inquisition, but was released.

In 1534 he and six other students in Paris founded the Society of Jesus. In 1539 they presented their plans for the order to Pope Paul III, and the order was approved the following year. Ignatius was appointed the first superior-general. He sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a monarchical organization and stressed absolute obedience to the pope.

The Jesuits were a major factor in the success of the Counter-Reformation.

Ignatius was a mystic who believed in a fiercely disciplined spiritual life. His principle became the Jesuit motto: ad maiorem dei gloriam ("all things for the greater glory of God"). He died in Rome and was canonized in 1622.

Text to integrate from Schaff-Herzog Encyc of Religion:

Youth, Conversion, and Education

In the summer of 1523 he left Manresa for Jerusalem via Barcelona and Venice. He journeyed wholly without money or supplies. On Sept. 4 he visited the Holy Sepulcher. Finding no way to maintain himself in missionary work in Palestine, he returned to Venice (Jan., 1524), convinced that he could accomplish little without scholastic training. Early in the year he went to Barcelona and took his place (though thirty-three years old) among the school-boys to learn the rudiments of Latin. In two years he was able to enter the University of Alcala, and in the autumn of 1527 he removed to the University of Salamanca. At both universities he incurred the censure of the authorities through his efforts to win converts among the students by inducing them to subject themselves to courses of training in the "Spiritual Exercises." Early in 1528 he entered the University of Paris where he remained over seven years, perfecting his literary and theological education and winning associates. For disturbing the students by getting them absorbed in the "Spiritual Exercises" he narrowly escaped disgraceful punishment at the hands of the authorities. He spent the vacations in the Netherlands among his fellow countrymen, who generously supplied his wants.

By 1534 he had won to his mode of life and inspired with his purpose and enthusiasm Peter Faber, Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Jacob Laines, and Nicholas Bobedilla (Spaniards), and Simon Rodrigues (a Portuguese).

Institution of His Order.

On Aug. 15, 1534, these brethren with Ignatius, in the St. Mary's Church at Montmartre, vowed on the completion of their studies to enter upon hospital and missionary work in Jerusalem, or, opportunity failing, to go without questioning wherever the pope might direct. Early in 1585 Ignatius went to Spain to attend to some business matters for Xavier, Lainez, and Salmeron, not wishing, it may be, to expose them to the temptations of home and family or to interrupt their studies. It was arranged that the companions should meet him at Venice in Jan., 1537. He visited the castle of Loyola, but chose to abide at the alms house. His preaching in the community attracted wide-spread attention. While he was in Spain his companions gained three recruits, Claude Le Jay, Jean Codure, and Pasquier-Brouet, all able and well-educated.

The reunion at Venice occurred as prearranged. They found it no easy matter to gain papal approval of their enterprise. Caraffa,, under whose auspices the Theatines (q.v.) had been constituted for a similar purpose, tried to persuade Ignatius and his companions, who had attracted his attention by their zealous and self-denying labors in the hospitals and among the poor and outcast, to join the older order.

Aware of the sentiments of Caraffa, Ignatius thought a visit to the Pope inadvisable; but Pope Paul III, when he learned of their zeal and their purposes, sent for them, gave them his commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests. They were ordained at Venice by the bishop of Arbe (June 24).

Just at this time the emperor, Venice, and the pope declared war against the Seljuk Turks and made Ignatius's proposed mission impracticable. The company now devoted themselves with great zeal and success to preaching and charitable work in various parts of Italy.

With Faber and Lainez, Ignatius made his way to Rome Oct., 1538, under a deep impression (based on a vision) that the pope would approve of the constitution of the new order. He found the pope conferring with some of the cardinals regarding a reformation of the city. Paul III received Ignatius and his two companions with open arms, appointed Faber and Lainez to chairs in the Sapientia college, and charged Ignatius with the task of reforming Rome. Early in 1539 all seven of his coadjutors were in Rome. With consuming zeal and wonderful acceptance they preached in the market places, the streets, and in such churches as were open to them; in the universities they sought to win the students; in caring for the multitudinous poor and sick their labors were abundant. The evenings they spent in prayer and in perfecting their organization and plans. Charges of heresy that had been made against them now received little attention in the general applause. Several of the associates were sent by the pope on important missions, which they performed to his entire satisfaction. Xavier and Rodriguez were invited to the Portuguese court. The former was encouraged to go as a missionary to India; the latter became the king's counselor.

The time for the confirmation of the order had arrived. A congregation of cardinals reported favorably upon the constitution presented, and Paul III. became convinced that it was the work of the Holy Spirit. He confirmed the order through the bull Regimini militantis (Sept. 27, 1540), but limited the number of its members to sixty. This limitation was removed through the bull Injunctum nobis (Mar. 14, 1543). Ignatius was unanimously chosen general by the members who were then in Rome, and with great solemnity they pledged him absolute obedience and recognized him as "holding the place of God" in relation to them.

Ignatius as General; His Writings.

From this time onward the life of Ignatius was identified with the history of the Company of Jesus (see JESUITS). No doubt he had much to do with the preparation of the "Constitutions," "Rules," "Institutions," etc. Many of his letters have been preserved. His tract "On the Virtue of Obedience" and his "Spiritual Exercises" best set forth the spirit of the man and of the order as he founded it.

As general he spent most of his time in Rome, where, in close touch with the pope and the curia, he directed the work of the order that soon became world-wide in its scope.

It is probable that no man ever combined so much of religious enthusiasm, often verging on fanaticism, with such fixity of purpose and such a wise adaptation of means to ends. He identified the "greater glory of God" to which he professed devotion, with the universal triumph throughout the world of the papal Church, which he wished to see brought up to his own standard of zeal and self-sacrifice.