Life of St. Ignatius
Born: Azpeitia (Spain), 1491 | Ordained Priest: 1537 | Died: Rome, 1556 | Canonized: 1622
Ignatius of Loyola, originally named Iñigo de Oñaz y Loyola, was a Spanish nobleman and the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). At age 26, he became a knight serving under a relative.
During the defense of Pamplona against the French, Ignatius suffered a severe leg injury from a cannonball on May 20, 1521. This marked the end of the first part of his life, during which he admits he was "a man given to worldly pleasures."
After Ignatius received medical treatment in Pamplona, he was taken back to his family's castle in Loyola in June 1521 to recover in a room (now called the Chapel of Conversion). With limited reading material available, he read a book about the life of Christ and another on the lives of saints, which had introductions by a Cistercian monk who viewed serving God as a holy form of knighthood. This idea had a deep impact on Ignatius and he decided to follow the saints' austerities as a form of penance. This moment was a profound turning point in his life.
In February 1522, Ignatius left his family to go on a pilgrimage to Montserrat in northeastern Spain, where he confessed his sins for three days, hung his sword and dagger near the statue of the Virgin Mary, and spent a night praying in sackcloth. Ignatius authored The Spiritual Exercises between 1522 and 1524, which is a collection of Christian prayers, meditations, and contemplations.
During his time as a student at the University of Paris from 1529 to 1535, Ignatius had two roommates: Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. They founded the Society of Jesus together and eventually became saints.
In 1537, he was ordained as a priest. In 1539, he founded the Society of Jesus, which received papal approval in 1540. Ignatius served as its general until his death in 1556. Under his leadership, the Jesuits expanded to Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Portugal, India, and Brazil.
Ignatius's remains rest in the Church of the Gesù, Rome.
Sanctuary of Loyola
Date: 17th–20th centuries
In the present day, the birthplace of St. Ignatius is adorned with a Baroque Sanctuary which offers views of a picturesque valley in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa.
Chapel of Conversion
The Sanctuary of St. Ignatius de Loyola was constructed around the ancestral tower house of the saint's family. A chapel within this building marks the exact location where Ignatius, a wounded soldier in 1521, underwent a spiritual transformation and was inspired to pursue a life devoted to religion.