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Who was St. Ignatius?
Inigo de Loyola (1491-1556) was the youngest child of a noble Basque family loyal to the Spanish crown. He spent his early days not as a priest but as a courtier and a soldier. During the battle of Pamplona in 1521, his leg was seriously wounded by a cannonball. While he recuperated at his family’s home, he reconsidered his way of life. A spiritual and religious conversion followed, and he decided to lay aside his sword of war and take up what he called the "sword of Christ."
After his convalescence, Ignatius began his new life as a pilgrim. He stopped in a town called Manresa, intending to stay for a few days. Instead, he stayed for 10 months, spending hours each day in prayer. This led to the creation of what is now known as the “Spiritual Exercises.” Also during this time, Ignatius had a vision that led him to seek “to find God in all things.”
After his religious conversion, to be of greater assistance to others, he went back to school, studying at a variety of different universities. While at the University of Paris, he formed a circle of friends who decided to dedicate themselves to the greater glory of God and “helping souls.” They placed themselves at the service of the Pope, who would send them throughout the world, wherever they were needed most. Everywhere the Jesuits went, their mission remained the same: to seek the greater glory of God and the good of humanity.
St. Ignatius was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. His feast day is celebrated on July 31, the day he died.