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Ignatius of Loyola (born Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola; Template:Lang-eu; Spanish: Ignacio de Loyola; Latin: Ignatius de Loyola; c.  23 October 1491[1] – 31 July 1556), venerated as Saint Ignatius of Loyola, was a Spanish Basque Catholic priest and theologian, who together with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier founded the religious order called the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first Superior General at Paris in 1541.[2] The Jesuit order is dedicated to teaching and missionary work. Its members are bound by a special (fourth) vow of obedience to the sovereign pontiff to be ready to fulfill special papal missions.[3] The society played an important role during the Counter-Reformation.[4]

Ignatius was noted as an inspired spiritual director. He recorded his method in a celebrated treatise called the Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other mental exercises, first published in 1548. It is known as "Ignatian spirituality".

Ignatius was beatified in 1609, and canonized, receiving the title of Saint on 12 March 1622. His feast day is celebrated on 31 July. He is the patron saint of the Basque provinces of Gipuzkoa and Biscay as well as of the Society of Jesus. He was declared patron saint of all spiritual retreats by Pope Pius XI in 1922. Ignatius is also the foremost patron saint of soldiers.[5]

Early life

Sanctuary of Loyola, in Azpeitia, built over Ignatius' birthplace

Íñigo López de Loyola (more fully, de Oñaz y Loyola; sometimes erroneously called de Recalde)[6] was born in the municipality of Azpeitia at the castle of Loyola in today's Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain. He was the youngest of thirteen children. His parents' names were Don Beltrán and Doña Marina.[7] His mother died soon after his birth, and he was put in the care of María de Garín, the local blacksmith's wife, who brought him up.[8]

He was baptized Íñigo, after St. Enecus (Innicus), Abbot of Oña, and an affectionate medieval Basque diminutive name meaning, "My little one".[6][9] It is not clear when he began using the Latin name "Ignatius" instead of his baptismal name "Íñigo".[10] Historian Gabriel María Verd says that Íñigo did not intend to change his name, but rather adopted a name which he believed was a simple variant of his own, for use in France and Italy where it was better understood.[11] Íñigo adopted the surname "de Loyola" in reference to the Basque village of Loyola where he was born.

Military career

Ignatius in armor, in a 16th-century painting

Saint Ignatius of Loyola's Vision of Christ and God the Father at La Storta by Domenichino[12]

As a boy Íñigo became a page in the service of a relative, Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, treasurer (contador mayor) of the kingdom of Castile.

As a young man Íñigo was keen on military exercises and was driven by a desire for fame. He framed his life around the stories of El Cid, the knights of Camelot, and the Song of Roland.[13] He joined the army at seventeen, and according to one biographer, he strutted about "with his cape flying open to reveal his tight-fitting hose and boots; a sword and dagger at his waist".[14][page needed] According to another he was "a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, a womanizer, sensitive to insult, and a rough punkish swordsman who used his privileged status to escape prosecution for violent crimes committed with his priest brother at carnival time."[15]

In 1509, aged 18, Íñigo took up arms for Antonio Manrique de Lara, 2nd Duke of Nájera. His diplomacy and leadership qualities earned him the title "servant of the court", and made him very useful to the Duke.[16] Under the Duke's leadership, Íñigo participated in many battles without injury. However at the Battle of Pamplona on 20 May 1521 he was gravely injured when a French-Navarrese expedition force stormed the fortress of Pamplona, and a cannonball ricocheting off a nearby wall, shattered his right leg.[17] Íñigo was returned to his father's castle in Loyola, where, in an era before anesthetics, he underwent several surgical operations to repair the leg, with his bones set and rebroken. In the end, the operations left his right leg shorter than the other. He would limp for the rest of his life, with his military career over.[15]

Religious conversion and visions

Manresa, Chapel in the Cave of Saint Ignatius where Ignatius practiced asceticism and conceived his Spiritual Exercises

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Society of Jesus

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While recovering from surgery, Íñigo underwent a spiritual conversion and discerned a call to the religious life. His beloved sister-in-law, Magdalena de Araoz, chose to bring him texts to read which she knew would help him encounter the living God, while he was recuperating.[6][18] Since the chivalric romances he enjoyed to read were not available to him in the castle, he came to read religious texts on the life of Jesus and on the lives of the saints.

The religious work which most particularly struck him was the De Vita Christi of Ludolph of Saxony.[19] This book would influence his whole life, inspiring him to devote himself to God and follow the example of Francis of Assisi and other great monks. It also inspired his method of meditation, since Ludolph proposes that the reader place himself mentally at the scene of the Gospel story, visualising the crib at the Nativity, etc. This type of meditation, known as Simple Contemplation, was the basis for the method that St. Ignatius would promote in his Spiritual Exercises.[20][21][22]

Aside from dreaming about imitating the saints in his readings, Íñigo was still wandering off in his mind about what "he would do in service to his king and in honor of the royal lady he was in love with". Cautiously he came to realize the after-effect of both kinds of his dreams. He experienced a desolation and dissatisfaction when the romantic heroism dream was over, but, the saintly dream ended with much joy and peace. It was the first time he learned about discernment.[15]

After he had recovered sufficiently to walk again, Íñigo resolved to begin a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to "kiss the earth where our Lord had walked",[15] and to do stricter penances.[23] He thought that his plan was confirmed by a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus he experienced one night, which resulted in much consolation to him.[23] In March 1522, he visited the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. There, he carefully examined his past sins, confessed, gave his fine clothes to the poor he met, wore a "garment of sack-cloth", then hung his sword and dagger at the Virgin's altar during an overnight vigil at the shrine.[6]

From Montserrat he walked on to the nearby town of Manresa (Catalonia), where he lived for about a year, begging for his keep, and then eventually doing chores at a local hospital in exchange for food and lodging. For several months he spent much of his time praying in a cave nearby[24] where he practiced rigorous asceticism, praying for seven hours a day, and formulating the fundamentals of his Spiritual Exercises.

Íñigo also experienced a series of visions in full daylight while at the hospital. These repetitive visions appeared as "a form in the air near him and this form gave him much consolation because it was exceedingly beautiful ... it somehow seemed to have the shape of a serpent and had many things that shone like eyes, but were not eyes. He received much delight and consolation from gazing upon this object ... but when the object vanished he became disconsolate".[25] He came to interpret this vision as diabolical in nature.[26]

Period of studies

In September 1523, Íñigo made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the aim of settling there. He remained there from 3 to 23 September but was sent back to Europe by the Franciscans.[27]

He returned to Barcelona and at the age of thirty-three attended a free public grammar school in preparation for university entrance. He went on to the University of Alcalá,[28] where he studied Theology and Latin from 1524 to 1534.

There he encountered a number of devout women who had been called before the Inquisition. These women were considered alumbrados (Illuminati) – a group linked in their zeal and spirituality to Franciscan reforms, but they had incurred mounting suspicion from the administrators of the Inquisition. Once when Íñigo was preaching on the street, three of these devout women began to experience ecstatic states. "One fell senseless, another sometimes rolled about on the ground, another had been seen in the grip of convulsions or shuddering and sweating in anguish." The suspicious activity took place while Íñigo had preached without a degree in theology. As a result, he was singled out for interrogation by the Inquisition, but was later released.[29]

Following these risky activities, Íñigo (by now Ignatius)Template:Explain moved to France to study at the University of Paris. He attended first the ascetic Collège de Montaigu, moving on to the Collège Sainte-Barbe to study for a Master's degree.[30]

He arrived in France at a time of anti-Protestant turmoil which had forced John Calvin to flee France. Very soon after, Ignatius had gathered around him six companions, all of them fellow students at the University.[31] They were the Spaniards Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, and Nicholas Bobadilla, with the Portuguese Simão Rodrigues, the Basque, Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber, a Savoyard, the latter two becoming his first companions,[15] and his closest associates in the foundation of the future Jesuit order.

"On the morning of the 15th of August, 1534, in the chapel of church of Saint Peter, at Montmartre, Loyola and his six companions, of whom only one was a priest, met and took upon themselves the solemn vows of their lifelong work."[32] Subsequently, they were to be joined by Francis Borgia, a member of the House of Borgia, who was the main aide to Emperor Charles V, and other nobles.

Ignatius gained a Magisterium from the University of Paris at the age of forty-three in 1535. In later life he would often be called "Master Ignatius" because of this.[32]

Foundation of the Jesuit order

In 1539, with Peter Faber and Francis Xavier, Ignatius formed the Society of Jesus, which was approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III. He was chosen as the first Superior General of the order and invested with the title of "Father General" by the Jesuits.[33]

Ignatius sent his companions on missions across Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Juan de Vega, then ambassador of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in Rome, met Ignatius there and having formed a good impression of the Jesuits, invited them to travel with him to his new appointment as Viceroy of Sicily. As a result, a Jesuit college was opened in Messina, which proved a success, so that its rules and methods were later copied in subsequent colleges.[34] In a letter to Francis Xavier before his departure to India in 1541, Ignatius famously used the Latin phrase "Ite, inflammate omnia", meaning, "Go, set the world on fire", a phrase used in the Jesuit order to this day.[35]

In 1548 Ignatius was summoned before the Roman Inquisition to have his book of Spiritual Exercises examined. He was eventually released and the book given papal permission to print. In their published form the exercises were intended to last for a period of 28–30 days.

With the assistance of his personal secretary, Juan Alfonso de Polanco, Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, which were adopted in 1553. They created a centralised organisation of the order,[36][37] and stressed absolute self-denial and obedience to the Pope and to superiors in the Church hierarchy. This was summarised in the motto perinde ac cadaver – "as if a dead body",[38] meaning that a Jesuit should be as emptied of ego as is a corpse.[39] However the overarching Jesuit principle became: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam ("for the greater glory of God").

During the years 1553–1555, Ignatius dictated his autobiography ("Autobiografía de San Ignacio de Loyola" in Wikisource in Spanish) to his secretary, Father Gonçalves da Câmara. It has become a companion volume to his Spiritual Exercises. It had been kept in the archives of the Jesuit order for about 150 years, before the Bollandists published the text in Acta Sanctorum.

Death and canonization

Ignatius died in Rome on 31 July 1556, probably of the "Roman Fever", a severe variant of malaria which was endemic in Rome throughout medieval history. An autopsy revealed that he also had kidney and bladder stones, a probable cause of the abdominal pains he suffered from in later life.[40][page needed] His body was dressed in his priestly robes and placed in a wooden coffin and buried in the crypt of the Maria della Strada Church on 1 August 1556. In 1568 the church was demolished and replaced with the Church of the Gesù. Ignatius' remains were reinterred in the new church in a new coffin.[41]

Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V on 27 July 1609, and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on 12 March 1622.[42] His feast day is celebrated annually on 31 July, the day he died. He is venerated as the patron saint of Catholic soldiers, the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore,[43] in his native Basque Country, Antwerp, Belo Horizonte, Junín.


Numerous institutions across the world are named for him (see Loyola Education). Chief among them is the Basilica of St Ignatius Loyola, built next to the house where he was born in Azpeitia, in the Basque Country. The house itself, now a museum, is part of the basilica complex.

In 1671, the mission in St. Ignace, Michigan was named in his honour, by Father Jacques Marquette.

In 1852, Loyola University Maryland was the first University in the United States to bear his name.

In 1949 he was the subject of a Spanish biographical film The Captain from Loyola starring Rafael Durán in the role of Ignatius.

In 2016, he was the subject of a Filipino film Ignacio de Loyola in which he was portrayed by Andreas Muñoz.[44]

Ignatius of Loyola is remembered in the Church of England with a commemoration on 31 July.[45]


Original shield of Oñaz-Loyola.

Shield of Oñaz-Loyola

The Shield of Oñaz-Loyola is a symbol of Ignatius family's Oñaz lineage, and is used by many Jesuit institutions around the world. As the official colors of the Loyola family are maroon and gold,[46] the Oñaz shield consists of seven maroon bars going diagonally from the upper left to the lower right on a gold field. The bands were granted by the King of Spain to each of the Oñaz brothers, in recognition of their bravery in battle. The Loyola shield features a pair of rampant gray wolves flanking each side of a cooking pot. The wolf was a symbol of nobility, while the entire design represented the family's generosity towards their military followers. According to legend, wolves had enough to feast on after the soldiers had eaten. Both shields were combined as a result of the intermarriage of the two families in 1261.[47][48]


Villoslada established the following detailed genealogy of Ignatius of Loyola:[1]



  • The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, TAN Books, 2010. Template:ISBN
  • Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, London, 2012. Template:ISBN
  • Loyola, (St.) Ignatius (1964). The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Anthony Mottola. Garden City: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-02436-5. 
  • Loyola, (St.) Ignatius (1900). Joseph O'Conner. ed. The Autobiography of St. Ignatius. New York: Benziger Brothers. OCLC 1360267.  For information on the O'Conner and other translations, see notes in A Pilgrim's Journey: The Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola Page 11-12.
  • Loyola, (St.) Ignatius (1992). John Olin. ed. The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola, with Related Documents. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 0-8232-1480-X. 

See also

Portal-puzzle.svg Saints portal
  • List of Catholic saints
  • List of Jesuits
  • Saint Ignatius, patron saint archive
  • Marie-Madeleine d'Houët foundress of the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus
  • Martín Ignacio de Loyola
  • The Cave of Saint Ignatius, a sanctuary built where Ignatius of Loyola reflected for 11 months in a grotto, in Manresa.
  • Isabella Roser and Isabel de Josa, wealthy Catalan women who were Loyola's benefactors from the 1520s onwards.


  1. 1.0 1.1 García Villoslada, Ricardo (1986) (in es). San Ignacio de Loyola: Nueva biografía. La Editorial Católica. ISBN 84-220-1267-7. "We deduct that, (...), Iñigo de Loyola should have been born before 23 October 1491." 
  2. Idígoras Tellechea, José Ignacio (1994). "When was he born? His nurse's account". Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint. Chicago: Loyola University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-8294-0779-0. 
  3. Ignatius of Loyola (1970). The constitutions of the society of Jesus. Institute of Jesuit Sources. p. 249 Template:Bracket. ISBN 9780912422206. "The entire meaning of this fourth vow of obedience to the pope was and is in regard to the missions ... this obedience is treated: in everything which the sovereign pontiff commands." 
  4. Nugent, Donald (1974). Ecumenism in the Age of the Reformation: The Colloquy of Poissy. Harvard University Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-674-23725-0. 
  5. "Summer Fiestas". 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Template:Cite CE1913
  7. Purcell, Mary (1965). The First Jesuit. USA: Image Books edition. pp. 22. 
  8. Page 9, Ignatius of Loyola, the Psychology of a Saint; W.W Meissner SJ MD, Yale University Press, 1992
  9. "Nombres: Eneko". Euskaltzaindia (The Royal Academy of the Basque Language).  Article in Spanish
  10. Verd, Gabriel María (1976). "El "Íñigo" de San Ignacio de Loyola" (in es). Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu (Roma: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu) 45: 95–128. ISSN 0037-8887. 
  11. Verd, Gabriel María (1991). "De Iñigo a Ignacio. El cambio de nombre en San Ignacio de Loyola" (in es). Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu (Roma: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu) 60: 113–160. ISSN 0037-8887. "That St. Ignatius of Loyola's name was changed is a known fact, but it cannot be said that it is widely known in the historiography of the saint—neither the characteristics of the names Iñigo and Ignacio nor the reasons for the change. It is first necessary to make clear the meaning of the names; they are distinct, despite the persistently held opinion in onomastic (dictionaries) and popular thought. In Spain Ignacio and Iñigo are at times used interchangeably just as if they were Jacobo and Jaime. With reference to the name Iñigo, it is fitting to give some essential notions to eliminate ambiguities and help understand what follows. This name first appears on the Ascoli brome (dated November 18, 90 BC), in a list of Spanish knights belonging to a Turma salluitana or Saragossan. It speaks of Elandus Enneces f[ilius], and according to Menéndez Pidal the final «s» is the «z» of Spanish patronymics, and could be nothing other than Elando Iñiguez. It is an ancestral Hispanic name. Ignacio, on the other hand, is a Latin name. In classical Latin there is Egnatius with an initial E. It appears only twice with an initial I (Ignatius) in the sixty volumes of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. This late Latin and Greek form prevailed. In the classical period Egnatius was used as a nomen (gentilitial name) and not as a praenomen (first name) or cognomen (surname), except in very rare cases. (...) The most important conclusion, perhaps unexpected, but not unknown, is that St. Ignatius did not change his name. That is to say, he did not intend to change it. What he did was to adopt for France and Italy a name which he believed was a simple variant of his own, and which was more acceptable among foreigners.... If he had remained in Spain, he would have, without doubt, remained Iñigo.". 
  12. "Saint Ignatius of Loyola's Vision of Christ and God the Father at La Storta". Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). 30 November 2016. 
  13. Ironically, the Song of Roland has Roland slain by Moors, when historically his death was at the hands of Basques like Íñigo himself.
  14. Richard Cohen (5 August 2003). By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions. Modern Library Paperbacks. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Traub, S.J., George and Mooney, Ph.D., Debra. A Biography of St. Ignatius Loyola, Xavier University
  16. In Spanish the title was "Gentilhombre", but this should not be understood as synonymous with the English term gentleman, which denotes a man of good family. See Thomas Rochford, title=St. Ignatius Loyola: the pilgrim and man of prayer who founded the Society of Jesus "St. Ignatius Loyola: the pilgrim and man of prayer who founded the Society of Jesus", accessed 15 November 2007.]
  17. Mariani, Antonio. "The Life of St. Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits". Thomas Richardson. 
  18. Dyckman, Katherine; Garvin; Liebert (2001). The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed: Uncovering Liberating Possibilities for Women. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. pp. 30. ISBN 9780809140435. 
  19. De Vita Christi is a commentary on the Gospels, using extracts from the works of over sixty Church Fathers, and particularly quoting from St Gregory the Great, St Basil, St Augustine and the Venerable Bede. This work took Ludolph forty years to complete.
  20. Sr Mary Immaculate Bodenstedt, "The Vita Christi of Ludolphus the Carthusian", a Dissertation, Washington: Catholic University of America Press 1944 British Library Catalogue No. Ac2692.y/29.(16).
  21. "The Vita Christi" by Charles Abbot Conway Analecta Cartusiana 34
  22. "Ludolph's Life of Christ" by Father Henry James Coleridge in The Month Vol. 17 (New Series VI) July–December 1872, pp. 337–370
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Mary, the Hidden Catalyst: Reflections from an Ignatian Pilgrimage to Spain and Rome". Xavier University. May 2008.,-the-Hidden-Catalyst-Reflections-from-an-Ignatian-Pilgrimage-to-Spain-and-Rome.cfm. 
  24. "The Cave an artistic heritage". 
  25. Jean Lacouture, Jesuits, A Multibiography, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995, p. 18.
  26. Demski, Eric (2014). Living by the Sword. Bloomington, Indiana: Trafford Publishing. p. 289. ISBN 978-1-490-73607-5. 
  27. Twelve years later, standing before the Pope with his companions, Ignatius would again propose sending his companions as emissaries to Jerusalem. Jean Lacouture, Jesuits, A Multibiography, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995, p. 24.
  28. That is, the present-day Complutense University of Madrid, not the newer University of Alcalá established in 1977.
  29. Jesuits, A Multibiography by Jean Lacouture, pp. 27–29, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995
  30. O'Malley, John (1993). The First Jesuits. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 28-29.
  31. Michael Servetus Research Template:Webarchive Website that includes graphical documents in the University of Paris of: Ignations of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmerón, Nicholas Bobadilla, Peter Faber and Simao Rodrigues, as well as Michael de Villanueva ("Servetus")
  32. 32.0 32.1 History of The World by John Clarke Ridpath, Vol. V, pp. 238, New York: Merrill & Baker, 1899
  33. "Saint Ignatius of Loyola | Biography & Facts" (in en). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  34. Template:Cite CE1913
  35. Manney, James. "Go Set the World on Fire". 
  36. Ignatius of Loyola (1970). The constitutions of the society of Jesus. Institute of Jesuit Sources. p. 249. ISBN 9780912422206. "Carried and directed by Divine Providence through the agency of the superior as if he were a lifeless body which allows itself to be carried to any place and to be treated in any manner desired." 
  37. Painter, F. V. N. (1903). A History of Education. International Education Series. 2. New York: D. Appleton and Company. p. 167. 
  38. Jesuitas (1583). "SEXTA PARS – CAP. 1" (in la). Constitutiones Societatis Iesu: cum earum declarationibus.íent%22&pg=PA196. 
  39. Ignatius of Loyola (1970). The constitutions of the society of Jesus. Translated by George E. Ganss. Institute of Jesuit Sources. p. 249. ISBN 9780912422206. "Carried and directed by Divine Providence through the agency of the superior as if he were a lifeless body which allows itself to be carried to any place and to be treated in any manner desired." 
  40. Siraisi, Nancy G. (2001) (in en). Medicine and the Italian Universities: 1250-1600. BRILL. ISBN 9004119426. 
  41. Martin, Malachi (28 May 2013). Jesuits. Simon and Schuster. pp. 169–170. ISBN 9781476751887. Retrieved 11 March 2018. 
  42. de Pablo, José (28 February 2017). "Canonization of St Ignatius of Loyola and St Francis Xavier." (in en-gb). 
  43. "Welcome to the Archdiocese of Baltimore". 
  44. Tantiangco, Aya (20 July 2016). "PHL film 'Ignacio de Loyola' not just for the religious, say director and star". GMA Network (company). 
  45. "The Calendar" (in en). 
  46. "Manresa Iconography – Manresa House of Retreats, Convent, LA.". 
  47. "Loyola Crests – Loyola High School, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.". 
  48. "Saint Ignatius' College Riverview". 

Further reading

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Ignatius of Loyola. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.