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Who was St Ignatius?

StIgnatius.jpgSt Ignatius’ Parish School is named after the Founder of the religious order known as the Society of Jesus, more commonly called the Jesuits. 

This youngest son of a Basque minor government official was born in 1491.  He had minimal education and had a strong upbringing in courtly etiquette.  Career opportunities for the youngest son seemed best in the Court circles where military prowess was also valued.  On 21 May, 1521, he persuaded the Captain, against all odds, not to surrender Pamplona to the French. 

In a relatively brief battle, French artillery breached the walls of Pamplona and Ignatius of Loyola was hit by a cannon ball and had both legs broken, one very severely.   The French carried him to the family home at Loyola where he convalesced over the next 12 months.

The castle library had only two books - The “Lives of the Saints” and “Life of Christ”.  These he read over and over again and in his many bedridden hours sometimes he fantasised about living the life of a saint and at other times he fantasised about marrying a princess.  His reflections on what happened in him after these fantasies occurred, ultimately led to his conversion.  Obviously the life of a saint had final sway.

Upon recovery he left Loyola and went to the town of Manresa where he prepared himself for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  At Jerusalem he experienced a deep desire to remain there and convert the heathens.  The Franciscan keeper of the holy places had other ideas and sent him back to Europe. 

During this phase of his life he was developing a prayer regime that came to be known as the “Spiritual Exercises”.  Because he was not a priest his giving of the Spiritual Exercises was viewed with some suspicion.  At the age of 34 he decided he wanted to become a priest and began his formal primary education with the school children of Salamanca.  He dropped out of primary school for a year but put himself back into school and learnt the Latin he needed for his University studies.  Again after several false starts he began study at the University of Paris where he gathered a band of men together who would eventually become the Society of Jesus. 

On completion of their studies, they were all going to go to Jerusalem to preach.  This, for various reasons, proved to be impossible, so this group offered themselves to the Holy Father to go wherever he would send them for the Greater Glory of God (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam).