St. Ignatius of Loyola

Biographical Sketch Outline on St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Founder of the Jesuits

By Micah Hogan, Biola University

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“Ignatius is the great spiritual guide, one of the most outstanding the Church has had in the course of her history.”[1]

Summary of Life

Sinner

1491Iñgo López de Loyola (later known as Ignatius of Loyola) is born Azpeitia, Guipúzcoa in Spain to a well-to-do and religious family.

1491-1507- Sometime in his early education, Iñgo is tonsured.

1507- At 16 Iñgo is sent to live with the Treasurer of Castile, where he is trained to be a court secretary and learned to “flirt with girls”[1]

1515- Iñgo leads a gang that attacks clergy in Loyola

1516- Becomes gentleman-in-waiting and soldier to Don Antonio Manique de Lara, Duke of Nájera.

1517- In Wittenberg, Luther posts the 95 theses.

1521- Iñgo seriously injured in battle with the French, returns to Loyola.

Conversion

1521- While on his death-bead from injuries, Iñgo promises St. Peter he will be soldier and poet in his service if he lives. Iñgo miraculously survives the night.

While recovering, Iñgo reads Jacopo de Voragine’s Lives of the Saints and is inspired by St. Francis and St. Dominic.

Sees a vision of the Virgin Mary and is filled with ecstasy and a changed heart.

Iñgo returns to Nájera and quits his job with the Duke

1522- On the way to Rome to ask permission to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Iñgo stops in Manresa and becomes severely depressed, contemplating suicide.

During this time, Iñgo has a mystical vision of the Trinity and his vocation to share what he has learned.

1523- Arrives in Jerusalem

Student

1524- Iñgo studies classics and humanism in Barcelona under Jeronimo Ardévol.

During this time, Iñgo attains a following and teaches them what will later become the Spiritual Exercises.

1526- Iñgo starts study at the University of Alcala.

Iñgo develops a following and is accused of Gnosticism and Lutheranism

Passes first inspection by Inquisition.

1527- Tried by Inquisition a second time, acquitted with the condition he cease from wearing his monastic habit and from holding spiritual meetings. Iñgo felt unable to do this and so left the University.

Begins studies at the College of St. James in Salamanca.

Imprisoned by the Inquisition for his strange behavior

Allowed to go free as long as he does not talk about grave sins

1528- Iñgo refuses and sets out for the University of Paris.

Iñgo begins to be called Ignatius.

1529- Ignatius quits school at the University of Paris and studies at the college of St. Barbe.

His roommates are Peter Favre and Francis Xavier.

August 15, 1534- Ignatius and his followers make vows to go to Jerusalem and live in poverty.

1535- Ignatius receives his Masters, despite being in poor health.

1537- Ordained a priest.

Founder of the Jesuits

1538- While in Rome, Ignatius asks Pope Paul III for a trial to clear his name once and for all

Ignatius is found not guilty.

He offers his first Mass in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

1540- Society of Jesus approved by Pope Paul III.

Francis Xavier becomes Jesuit missionary

1541- Ignatius, age 50, becomes the first superior of the Society of Jesus.

Reform Work

1542- Persuades the Pope to instigate reforms on the treatments of Jews and Muslims.

1543- Pope Paul III approves Ignatius’s “Martha House” for women.

1544- Writes first diary of mystical experiences

1545- Elizabeth Roser becomes first and only female Jesuit for a brief time.

Writes second diary of mystical experiences.

1546- Ignatius establishes home for young girls.

Portugal becomes first administrative unit in Society.

Jesuits play active role at Trent

1548- Pope Paul III endorses Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.

1549- Pope Paul III dies.

1550- Jesuit Fathers gather to advise on the Constitutions of the order.

Pope Julius III confirms approval of the company.

1551- Ignatius submits resignation due to poor health, but is denied.

Advises Pope on battle plans against the Turks

1552- Francis Xavier dies in the mission field of India.

1553- Orders mandatory prayers for England and Germany

1556- Ignatius dies of fever.

Influences/Recognition

Influences

  • Francis and St. Dominic: The saints who drew Ignatius to Christ, and to whom he turned for example throughout life.
  • Erasmus: Ignatius was trained in the Catholic humanist school, and was thus indirectly influenced by Erasmus.
  • Thomas a Kempis: Imitation of Christ became Ignatius’s favorite book.
  • Bruno of Cologne: St. Bruno founded the Carthusians, which Ignatius frequently visited while in Paris and whose Rule his own Constitutions strongly resembled.
  • Jacopo de Voragine: Lives of the Saints was Ignatius’s introduction to St. Francis and St. Dominic.
  • Ludolph of Saxony: Life of Christ was one of the books that drew his soul to God.

Influenced

  • The Society of Jesus: To this day the Society remains loyal to the overarching vision for the order established by Ignatius.
  • Roman (Tridentine) Catholicism: Jesuits were present at the Council of Trent, and their missionary efforts have greatly contributed to the growth of the Catholic Church.
  • Anglicanism: The Anglican Church commemorates Ignatius of Loyola on July 31st.

Most Important Legacies

  • The Society of Jesus: one of the premiere orders of the Catholic Church, including such luminaries as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Pope Francis.
  • Jesuit Universities: made education accessible to a wide variety of people.
  • Saintly Life: Catholics for generations have striven to imitate the character of contemplation and charity that St. Ignatius showed to the world.

Ignatius’ Theology

  • The governing matrix of Ignatius’ theology is the person of Jesus Christ, particularly in the Spiritual Exercises.[2]
  • Ignatius believed that God indwells in all things, and it is the job of the believer to find Him there.
  • Every important choice (or “election”) that we make should be accompanied by the discernment of spirits.[3] A good spirit could be determined through interior peace, spiritual joy, the theological virtues, tears, and elevation of the mind, where as a bad spirit would bring with it a disturbance of the peace, sadness, longing after base things, aridity, and distraction of mind in base things. [4]
  • A central motif of Ignatius’ theology is the concept of the Church Militant. Ignatius believed the Church was called to battle spiritually, which sometimes involved physical warfare. [5]
  • Ignatius believed in absolute obedience to the Pope.
  • Ignatius was strongly Trinitarian, as his Spiritual Diaries His Trinitarian theology was most evident in his mysticism, where he would move from simplicity (God is on, Jesus is man) to complexity (God is three, Jesus is Divine).[6]

Ignatius’s Writings

Genres

  • Autobiography
  • Mystical Theology
  • Letters to various Catholic ecclesiastics and theologians
  • Spiritual guidebooks

Major Works

  • The Spiritual Exercises: (1548, 1550) the guidebook for a four weeklong intensive program designed to enhance your spiritual walk.
  • Reminiscences (Autobiography): (1555) Ignatius’s account of his own life spoken in the third person, shortly before his death.
  • The Spiritual Diary: (est. 1544) The written account of a debate Ignatius was having with himself as to how the Society should proceed.
  • Constitutions: The official rule and operating manual for the Society of Jesus.

Primary Sources

  • Iparraguirre, Ignacio. Obras completes do San Ignacio de Loyola. Edicón Manual. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1st 1963 (5th ed. 1991).
  • Monumenta Historica Socetatis Iesu. (Complete Works available online at

http://www.sjweb.info/arsi/Monumenta.cfm )

  • (English trans.) Ganss, George E. Ignatius of Loyola: The Spiritual Exercises and

            Selected Works. New York: Paulist Press, 1991.

  • (French trans.) Giuliani, Maurice. Ignace de Loyola: Ecrits, Collection Christus No. 76,

Textes, Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 1991.

Secondary Works

*Caraman, Philip. Ignatius of Loyola: A Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990.

Donnelly, John Patrick. Ignatius of Loyola: Founder of the Jesuits. New York: Pearson Longman, 1956.

Idígoras, José Ignacio Tellechea. Ignatius of Loyola: The Pilgrim Saint. Translated by Cornelius Michael Buckley. Chicago: S.J. Loyola University Press, 1994.

Rahner, Hugo. Ignatius the Theologian. Translated by Michael Barry. New York: Herder and Herder, 1968.

Wulf, Friedrich ed., Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977.

Bibliography

Caraman, Philip. Ignatius of Loyola: A Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990.

Donnelly, John Patrick. Ignatius of Loyola: Founder of the Jesuits. New York: Pearson Longman, 1956.

Ignatius of Loyola, Joseph A. Munitiz, and Philip Endean. Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings. London: Penguin Books, 1996.

Rahner, Hugo. Ignatius the Theologian. Translated by Michael Barry. New York: Herder and Herder, 1968.

Wulf, Friedrich ed., Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977.

 

Footnotes: 

1. Friedrich Wulf, Ignatius as Spiritual Guide in Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977.

2. Philip Caraman, Ignatius of Loyola: A Biography of the Founder of the Jesuits. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990, p. 11.

3. Hugo Rahner, Ignatius the Theologian. Translated by Michael Barry. New York: Herder and Herder, 1968, 53.

4. Ignatius of Loyola, Joseph A. Munitiz, and Philip Endean. Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings. London: Penguin Books, 1996, 68-9.

5. Rahner, 152.

6. Cf. Hans Wolter, Elements of Crusade Sprituality in St. Ignatius in Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977, 97-134.

7. Adolf Haas, The Mysticism of St. Ignatius According to His Spiritual Diary in Ignatius of Loyola: His Personality and Spiritual Heritage. St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1977, 170-1.

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