Ignatius of Loyola, St.

views updated


Founder and first general of the Society of Jesus; b. Casa Torre of Loyola, Azpeitia, province of Guipúzcoa, Spain, 1491; d. Rome, July 31, 1556. This last son of Beltrán Yáñez de Oñaz and María Sáenz de Licona was baptized Iñigo in the parish church of St. Sebastian. From 1537 on he used also the name Ignatius, particularly in official documents, because it was more universally known (Ribadeneyra). There is no justification for the family name Recalde, as formerly alleged. His boyhood was spent in the Casa Torre, and during his adolescent years (1506?17), he was a page of Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, alcalde of the fortress towns of Arévalo and Truxillo, and ministro de Hacienda (treasurer general) for Ferdinand the Catholic. Ignatius followed the court to Arévalo, Valladolid, Medina del Campo, Segovia, and Madrid; and when Velázquez lost the favor of the king, Ignatius was attached to the household of Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre (1516). In his service he accomplished successful military assignments, including the defeat of the Comuneros of Guipúzcoa (a faction opposed to Emperor Charles V).

Conversion. When King Francis I of France sent troops into Spain to reestablish the claims of Jean d'Albret to the kingdom of Navarre, Ignatius, while defending the castle of Pamplona, was struck by a cannon shot that wounded one leg and broke the other (May 20, 1521). In the course of his convalescence at Loyola he learned of the heroism of sanctity by reading the Vita Christi of ludolph of saxony and the Flos sanctorum of james of voragine, and he resolved to go to the Holy Land. He traveled first to Montserrat, where he made a night vigil before Our Lady (March 2425, 1522) and received spiritual direction from the French Benedictine Jean Chanones. Before reaching Montserrat Ignatius vowed perpetual chastity and dedicated himself to a spiritual life. Then for 11 months he remained at nearby Manresa, residing for a time in a cell of the Dominican priory, administering to the sick at the Hospital of St. Lucy, and spending hours in penance and prayer in a cave. At this time he wrote in substance the spiritual exercises, which he completed in Paris and Rome (152241). At Manresa he suffered from scruples, which gave way to spiritual revelations and the decisive illumination near the Cardoner River.

Ignatius left Manresa toward the end of February 1523, and after many delays landed at Jaffa on September 1, with a party of pilgrims. The hostility of the Turks prevented fulfillment of his original plan to remain in the Holy Land, so he returned to Europe and began a program of study at Barcelona (152426), Alcalá (152627), Salamanca (1527), and Paris (152835). During these 11 years he studied Latin, philosophy, and theology. Both at Alcalá and Salamanca he was suspected of being an al umbrados (illuminati) and was interrogated and imprisoned.

Ignatius obtained his master of arts degree at Paris in 1534, and on August 15 of that year, together with Peter faber, Francis xavier, Diego laÍnez, Alfonso salmerÓn, Nicolás de bobadilla, and Simón Rodriguez, he vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. It was determined that, if this journey became impossible, the group would offer itself to the apostolic service of the pope. The following year on the same day, he renewed the vows with three new companions, Paschase Broët, Jean Codure, and Claude le jay. When the war between Venice and the Turkish Empire prevented their pilgrimage, they placed themselves in the hands of Paul III (1538).

Foundation of the Society of Jesus. At this time Ignatius resolved to make their association permanent. After the encouragement of his vision at La Storta, a shrine nine miles from Rome (November 1537), in which he heard the words, "Ego vobis Romae propitius ero" ("I shall be favorable to you at Rome"), and after long deliberations with his followers, he drew up the five fundamental chapters of the rule for a new institute. The Society of Jesus was approved orally by Paul III at Tivoli (Sept. 3, 1539), and solemnly confirmed by him in the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae (Sept. 27, 1540). During Lent 1541, Ignatius, against his desire, was elected general of the new society and on April 22, with his companions, went on pilgrimage to the seven stational basilicas of Rome and made solemn profession at St. PaulOutsidetheWalls. While his companions were sent on missions by the pope, he remained in Rome to consolidate the society, direct the admission of new members, write the first two texts of the constitution (154749), and carry on an enormous correspondence (more than 6,000 letters are published). At the same time he founded and supported many apostolic projects for the moral renewal of the cityhomes for orphans, for catechumens, and for penitent women (House of St. Martha). Through the influence of Francis borgia, Duke of Gandia, he obtained Paul III's approval of the Spiritual Exercises (July 31, 1548). julius iii, by the bull Exposcit debitum (July 21, 1550), reconfirmed the society and determined its internal structure, giving as its goal the defense and propagation of the faith. In February 1551 Ignatius founded the Roman College, intended as the prototype for the colleges of the society. By the next year it had 300 students. Although initially dedicated to the teaching of grammar and humanities, it offered classes in philosophy and theology in 1553. He also instituted the German College (1552) for the training of future apostles of Germany.

Constitutions. During his generalate, besides writing rules of conduct and instructions, such as the famed letter on obedience (1553), Ignatius spent years of thought and experimentation in determining the Constitutions. To his followers, designated canonically as Canons Regular, he gave distinctive characteristics that would have extensive effect in religious life in general. To assure

efficacy and mobility in the apostolate, he proposed obedience as the prominent virtue, renounced monastic choir, a fixed garb, and penances obligatory on all. Members of the society in any of its various grades must shun high ecclesiastical office unless ordered by the pope. Ignatius prolonged the novitiate to a period of two years, established simple vows that preceded the solemn profession, and a third probation after studies. He was inflexible in refusing the regular ministry of religious women, and excluded the foundation of any women's branch of the society, especially after the unsuccessful experiment in which, to please his benefactress, Isabel Roser, he allowed a group of religious women to place themselves under his obedience. He also replaced various types of capitular jurisdiction with a monarchical organization, in which the general, though aided by consultors and provincials, was elected for life and responsible only to the general congregation.

Ignatian Ideal. By those portions of his Diario espiritual that have been preserved (Feb. 2, 1544Feb. 27, 1545), Ignatius is revealed as a true mystic. His spiritual life moved in an atmosphere that was particularly Trinitarian, Christological, and Eucharistic. To his devotion to the Trinity, Christ as Savior and prototype of perfection, and the Eucharistic life centered in the Mass, he added a great affection for Our Lady. His ideal was the greater promotion of God's glory (ad majorem Dei gloriam ), and he saw this as the work of the society. To bring men to know their destiny and to teach them how to attain it is the apostolic ideal that guided his actions and his rules. All apostolic action must however be guided by true love of the Church and an unconditional obedience to the Vicar of Christ. For this end Ignatius imposed on all professed members a fourth solemn vow of obedience to the pope. His aspiration was to give the Church and the papacy the greatest possible service, and his direction of the society was based on this foundation.

Ignatius' emphasis upon obedience has often given a misguided impression of inflexibility and militaristic regime. The love from his subjects and the admiration of contemporaries for his genius in organization and profound understanding of personalities prove such a view unjustified. In 1551 he asked the fathers, assembled for the examination of the Constitutions, to be relieved of his office because of ill health, but was refused. He continued in power and at the end of his life declared that God had granted the three graces he most desired: the confirmation of the Society, the approval of the Spiritual Exercises, and the completion of the Constitutions. At his death, the Society had 1,000 members distributed throughout 100 houses in 12 provinces. Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609, and canonized by Paul's successor, Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. Pope Pius XI in 1922 declared him patron of spiritual exercises and retreats.

Iconography. Besides the death mask (see illustration) and portraits taken from it, three paintings are considered authentic, those by Jacopino del Conte and Alonzo Sánchez Coello, and an anonymous portrait. Among numerous artistic representations are the statues by Juan Martínez Montañes, Gregorio Hernández, and Pierre le Gros. The last exists in a copy by Ludovisi in the church of the Gesù, Rome. There are paintings by Andreas Pozzo, SJ, in the church of S. Ignazio, Rome; by Juan Espinosa in the museum in Valencia; by Peter Paul Rubens, painted for the Jesuit church at Antwerp and now in the Hofmuseum, Vienna; and by Juan de las Roelas; and basreliefs by Allesandro Algardi and Renato Fremin.

Feast: July 31.

See Also: jesuits.

Bibliography: Obras completas, ed. i. iparraguirre and c. de dalmases (Biblioteca de autores cristanos 86; 2d ed. Madrid 1963). Extensive sources for his life and writings are found in the Monumenta historica Societatis Jesu (Madrid 1894 Rome 1932). Autobiography, ibid. v.1, critical text; St. Ignatius' Own Story as Told to Luis González de Cámara, tr. w. j. young (Toronto 1956); Cartes espirituals de S. Ignasi de Loyola, ed. i. casanovas, 2 v. (Barcelona 1936); Lettres, tr. g. dumeige (Paris 1959); Letters and Instructions, ed. a. goodier, tr. d. f. o'leary, v.1 (St. Louis 1914); Letters to Women, ed. h. rahner, tr. k. pond and s. a. h. weetman (New York 1960). Literature. j. brodrick, Saint Ignatius Loyola: The Pilgrim Years (New York 1956). p. dudon, St. Ignatius of Loyola, tr. w. j. young (Milwaukee 1949). p. leturia, Iñigo de Loyola, tr. a. j. owen (Syracuse, N.Y. 1949). l. von matt and h. rahner, St. Ignatius of Loyola: A Pictorial Biography, tr. j. murray (Chicago 1956). m. purcell, The First Jesuit (Westminster, Md. 1957). p. tacchiventuri, Storia della Compagnia di Gesù in Italia (2d ed. Rome 195051). r. garciavilloslada, Ignacio de Loyola, un español al servicio del pontificado (Zaragoza 1956). j. de guibert, The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice, tr. w. j. young (Chicago 1964). a. m. alareda, Sant Ignasi a Montserrat (Monserrat 1935). a. huonder, Ignatius von Loyola: Beiträge zu seinem Charakterbild (Cologne 1932). h. rahner, The Spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola, tr. f. j. smith (Westminster, Md. 1953). j. f. gilmont and p. daman, Bibliographie ignatienne 18941957 (Paris 1958). i. iparraguirre, Orientaciones bibliográficas sobre san Ignacio de Loyola (2d ed. Rome 1965). j. f. conwell, Impelling Spirit: Revisiting a Founding Experience: 1539, Ignatius Loyola and His Companions (Chicago 1997). m. j. buckley, "Ecclesial Mysticism in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius," Theological Studies 56 (1995): 441463. j. i. tellechea idigoras, Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint, trans. c.m. buckley (Chicago 1994). j. giulietti, "Contemplative Hearts, Compassionate Hands: The Ignatian Vision of Justice," in Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters, ed. w. j. o'brien (Washington, D.C.1993), 117. p. caraman, Ignatius Loyola: A Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits (San Francisco 1990). j. l. segundo, The Christ of the Ignatian Exercises (London 1987). a. ravier, Ignatius of Loyola and the Founding of the Society of Jesus (San Francisco 1987). f. wulf, Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage, 15561956: Studies on the 400th Anniversary of His Death (St. Louis 1977).

[c. de dalmases]