Patron of Retreats
St. Ignatius was born of a noble family in 1491, in the Castle of Loyola in Giupuscoa, Spain. Reared in the Court of Ferdinand V of Aragon, the husband of Isabella of Castile, he entered the army and distinguished himself by his valor. He was wounded at the siege of Pamplona, in a war between Charles V and Francis I, King of France. During his convalescence he read the “Lives of the Saints,” which effected his conversion from worldliness to piety. Henceforth, his life belonged entirely to God.
After a general confession in the monastery of Monserrat, the Saint spent ten months in the solitude of Manresa, where he composed his Spiritual Exercises, and then made a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land. On his return to Spain he began his studies, and in 1528 he went to Paris to continue them. Here his virtue and wisdom gained him a few companions, and these became the nucleus of the Society of Jesus. At Montmarte they vowed to go to Palestine, or to ofer themselves to the Pope to be employed in the service of God in some other manner. Receiving ordination at Venice together with his companions, St. Ignatius went to Rome where he was graciously received by Pope Paul III.
In 1540, Pope Paul III approved the Society and it soon made rapid progress, spreading to India in the East and to Brazil in the West. St. Ignatius continued to reside in Rome, employed in consolidating and governing his Society. There he became the friend of St. Philip Neri. He was General of the Society more than fifteen years. He died peacefully on July 31, 1556, and was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.
PRAYER: God, You raised up St. Ignatius in Your Church for the greater glory of Your Name. Grant that we may labor on earth with his help and after his example and merit to be crowned with him in heaven. Amen.