lunes, 11 de marzo de 2013

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatius, the son of a noble and wealthy Spanish family called the Loyolas, was born in his family's ancestral castle in 1491. Little interested in church matters, he trained as a knight and in 1517 went in the service of a relative, Antonio Manrique de Lara, the duke of Najera and viceroy of Navarre. In May 1521, during the siege of Pamplona by the French, his legs were shattered by a cannonball. Seriously wounded, he was transported to his family's castle, where he was forced to lie in convalescence for many weeks. During this time, he was given the Bible and a book on the saints to read. He came to see the service of God as a kind of holy chivalry and resolved to live an austere life in imitation of the saints.
In February 1522 he made a pilgrimage to Montserrat, where a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary and Child, supposedly carved by St. Luke, resides. Ignatius hung his sword and dagger near the statue as symbols of his conversion to a holy life. For the next year, he lived as a beggar and prayed for seven hours a day, often in a cave near Manresa in northeastern Spain. During this time, he composed an early draft of The Spiritual Exercises, his manual for spiritual meditation and conversion. In 1523, he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
After his return to Spain in 1524, Ignatius resolved to gain an extensive education to prepare himself for his spiritual mission. He studied in Barcelona and at the University of Alcala, where he began to acquire followers. Suspected of heresy, he was tried in Alcala, and later in Salamanca but both times was acquitted. He was forbidden to teach until he reached the priesthood, and he went to the University of Paris to continue his studies.
In August 1534, the Jesuit movement was born when Ignatius led six of his followers to Montmartre near Paris, where the group took vows of poverty and chastity and made plans to work for the conversion of Muslims. If travel to the Holy Land was not possible, they vowed to offer themselves to the pope for apostolic work. In 1537, Ignatius and most of his companions were ordained. Unable to travel to Jerusalem because of the Turkish wars, they went to Rome instead to meet with the pope and request permission to form a new religious order. In September 1540, Pope Paul III approved Ignatius' outline of the Society of Jesus, as the Jesuit order is formally known.
 When Ignatius de Loyola died on July 31, 1556, there were more than 1,000 Jesuit priests. Ignatius de Loyola was canonized as a Catholic saint in 1622. His feast day is July 31.

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