Loyola, Ignatius Of, St
Loyola, Ignatius Of, St.
or, with his full Spanish name, Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde, the founder of the Jesuits, was born in 1491, in the Castle of Loyola, which was situated not far from Azpeytia, in the Spanish province of Guipuscoa. He was the youngest of the eleven children of Don Bertand, Senor d'Aguez y de Loyola, and Martina Saez de Balde. His family prided itself on belonging to the ancient, pure nobility of the country, and was distinguished for chivalric sentiment. After receiving his first instruction in religion from his aunt, Dofia Maria de Guevara, a fervid Catholic, he became a page at the court of Ferdinand the Catholic. But Ignatius had too great a desire for glory to be satisfied with court life, and, following the example of his brothers, who served in the army, he resolved to become a soldier. During the first campaign in which he took part he distinguished himself at the siege of Najara, a small town situated on the frontier of Biscaya, the capture of which was partly attributed to his bravery. The town was given up to pillage, in which he took, however, no part. His life at this time, as one of his biographers says, was by no means regular; "being more occupied with gallantry and vanity than anything else, he generally followed in his actions the false principles of the world, and in this way he continued to live until his twenty-ninth year when God opened his eyes." During the siege of Pampeluna, the capital of Novara, by the French, he was, on May 20, 1521, severely wounded by a cannon ball in both legs. The French, after taking the place, honored his courage, and had him transported on a litter to his native castle of Loyola, which is not far from Pampeluna. As the first operation had not been successful, the leg had to be broken again and to be reset anew. The extreme painfulness of this operation brought on a fever on the eve of the festival of the apostles Peter and Paul, which it was thought would prove fatal; but this fever suddenly ceased, and Ignatius ascribed his unexpected recovery to the miraculous aid of the prince of the apostles, who, as he states, appeared to him in a dream, touched him with his hand, and cured him from his fever. But, notwithstanding this belief in his miraculous recovery, Ignatius remained imbued with a worldly spirit. The recovery proved, however, not to be complete, and Ignatius, in order to get fully restored, had to submit to several other painful operations, in spite of all of which his right leg remained considerably shorter than the other. While his recovery was slowly proceeding, he demanded novels for pastime; but as no books of this class were to be found in the castle, he received in their stead a Life of Jesus Christ and of the Saints. He read this at first without the least interest in the subject, and only because no other book could be found; but gradually his fiery imagination learned how to derive food from this reading, and a determination sprang up to imitate the spiritual combats which he found described in this book. and to excel the saints in heroic deeds. For a time the reviving thirst of glory, and a strong attachment to, a lady of the royal court, continued to prove formidable obstacles, but finally he fully overcame them, and began the new career upon which he had resolved to enter with a pilgrimage to the convent of Montserrat, famous for the immense concourse of pilgrims from all parts of the world to a miraculous picture of the Virgin Mary. To conceal his design, he pretended to make a visit to his old friend the duke of Najara, and immediately after making the visit dismissed his two servants, and took alone the road to Montserrat. There, during three successive days, he made a general confession of all the sins of his life, and took the vow of chastity. Before the picture of the Virgin Mary he held a vigil, hung up his sword and dagger on the altar, and then repaired to Manresa, a small town situated about three leagues from Montserrat, and containing a convent of the Dominican order and a hospital chiefly for pilgrims. Here he desired to live unknown until the pestilence should cease at Barcelona, and the opening of the port should allow him to carry out his wish of visiting the Holy Land. He first entered the hospital, and there practiced the austerest asceticism, until it became known that he was a nobleman, when the number of persons who came to see him from curiosity induced him to hide himself in a neighboring cave which was known to few, and which no one had yet dared to enter. The horrors of this place, and the cruel, unnatural asceticism to which he gave himself up, produced a state of mind in which he believed himself alternately to be attended by temptations of the devil and to be gladdened by visions of the Savior and the holy Virgin. Gradually he began to be settled in his mind, and resolved to labor for the conversion and sanctification of souls. He began to speak in public on religion, and made the first draft of his famous book of the Spiritual Exercises (Exercitia Spiritualia), in the composition of which he claims to have had divine aid. This book has contributed more than any other to the erection of the new papal theocracy which has recently been completed by the promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility. It consists of meditations, which are grouped in four divisions or weeks. The first week, after an introductory meditation on the destiny of man and of all created things, occupies itself with sin, its hideousness, and its terrible consequences. The second week has for its basis the meditation on the kingdom of Christ, who is represented as being in the highest sense of the word the king by the grace of God, whose call to the spiritual campaign all men have to obey, and in whose service every noble heart will feel itself inspired to noble deeds. In a life-picture of Christ it is shown how man must prove himself in the war for and with Christ. The meditation then turns to the mysteries of incarnation, to the childhood of Jesus, and his retired life in Nazareth. Here the contemplation of the life of Christ is interrupted by the meditation on the two banners: the horrid banner of the prince of darkness is unfolded by the side of the lovely banner of Christ before the eyes of the soul, which is eagerly courted on both sides. Returning to the public life of Christ, which is now followed step by step, the Exercises prepare the mind for finally determining the future course of life. During the third week the sufferings and the death of the Lord are meditated upon, in order to strengthen the soul for all the combats which a resolution to lead a religious life must entail. The subjects of the fourth week are taken from the mysteries of the resurrection and ascension of Christ. The whole is concluded with a meditation on the love of God. The book was for the first time printed in Rome in 1548, and on July 31 of the same year approved by pope Paul III, and urgently recommended to the faithful. In the hands of the Jesuits this book subsequently became one of the chief instruments which secured the thoroughly military discipline of their order, as well as of their devoted adherents.
After passing ten months in Manresa, Ignatius, in January, 1523, embarked at Barcelona for the Holy Land. He spent a few days in Rome, then went to Venice, where he embarked for Jerusalem on July 14, and arrived there on September 4. It was his wish to remain here, in order to labor for the conversion of the people of the East; but the provincial of the Franciscan monks, who had been authorized by the popes either to retain the pilgrims or to send them home again, did not allow him to stay. Accordingly, he had to return to Europe, and arrived in Venice in January 1524. In March he was again on Spanish soil, and having become convinced during his voyage of the importance of a literary education for the accomplishment of his plans, he entered, although 33 years old, a grammar-school at Barcelona, where he studied, in particular, the elements of Latin. Two years later he went, with three disciples whom he had gained at Barcelona, to the University of Alcala, which a short time before had been founded by cardinal Ximenes. Here he was, with his companions, imprisoned for six weeks, by order of the Inquisition, for giving religious instruction without special authorization. After being released, he went, at the advice of the archbishop of Toledo, to the University of Salamanca to continue his studies. But, when there, he had new difficulties with the Inquisition; he resolved to leave Spain, and, not accompanied by any of his disciples, went to the University of Paris, where he studied from February 1528, to the end of March, 1535, and on March 14, 1533, obtained the title of master of arts. Here his plan was fully matured to establish a society of men who might aid him in carrying out his religious ideas. The first who was gained for the plan was Pierre Lefevre (Petrus Faber), who for some time had been his tutor in his philosophical studies. The second was Francis Xavier, a young nobleman of Novara. Soon after they were joined by the Spaniards Jacob Lainez, Alphonse Salmeron, and Nicholas Alphonse Bobadilla, and the Portuguese Simon Rodriguez d'Azendo. For the first time they were called together by Ignatius in July 1534. On August 15, on the festival of the assumption of the Virgin Mary, he took them to the church of the Abbey of Montmartre, near Paris, where, having received the communion from the hands of Lefivre, the only priest in their midst, they all, with a loud voice, took the solemn vow to make a voyage to Jerusalem, in order to labor for the conversion of the infidels of the Holy Land; to quit all they had in the world besides what they indispensably needed for the voyage; and in case they should find it impossible either to reach Palestine or remain there, to throw themselves at the feet of the pope, offer him their services, and go wherever he might send them. As several members of the company had not yet finished their theological studies, it was agreed that they should remain at the university until January 25, 1537. Ignatius in the meanwhile undertook to labor against the further progress of the Reformation in France; his ascetic practices soon undermined again his health, and, at the advice of his physician, he had to return to his native land, where he soon recovered. On January 6, 137, he was met at Venice by all his companions, who, after his departure from Paris, had been joined by Claude le Jay, Jean Codure, and Pasquier Brouet. Two months later all the members of the society were sent by Ignatius to Rome, he himself remaining at Venice, as he believed the influential cardinal Caraffa (subsequently pope Paul IV) to be unfriendly to him. The pope, Paul III, received the companions of Ignatius favorably, and gave them permission to be ordained priests by any bishop of the Catholic Church. As the war between Venice and the sultan made it impossible for Ignatius to go with his companions to Palestine, Ignatius, who had again united all the members of the society at Vicenza, resolved to go with Lefevre and Lainez to Rome, in order to place the services of his society at the disposal of the pope. Before separating, Ignatius instructed all his companions, in case they were asked who they were, and to what society they belonged, to reply that they belonged to the Society of Jesus, as they had united for a combat against heresy and vice under the banner of Jesus Christ. On his journey to Rome, Ignatius claimed to have had another vision in the lonely, decayed sanctuary of Storia, about six miles from Rome, and to have received a direct promise of divine aid and protection. At Rome Ignatius succeeded in gaining the entire confidence of the pope. A charge of heresy and sorcery, which a personal enemy brought against him, was easily refuted, but it was found more difficult to overcome the opposition to his projected order from three cardinals, by whose advice the pope was chiefly guided. But, undaunted by this great obstacle, as Helvot (Histoire des Ordes es Monalstique, ed. Migne, 2:643) says, "he continued his urgent representations with the pope, and redoubled his prayers to God with all the greater confidence, as, not doubting the success of his enterprise, he promised to God three thousand masses in recognition, and thanksgiving for the favor which he hoped to obtain from his divine Majesty." The steady progress of the Reformation overcame, however, at last the reluctance of the cardinals, and, by the bull of September 27, 1540, Regimini militantis ecclesice, the pope gave to the new order the papal sanction and the name Society of Jesus. At the election of a general of the new order Ignatius received a unanimous vote. He at first declined to accept; but when, at a second election, he was again found to be the unanimous choice of his brethren and when his confessor, the Franciscan monk father Theodore, urged him not to resist the call of God, he was prevailed upon to accept. He soon drew up the constitution of his order, which, however, did not receive the final sanction until after his death. In November 1554, in consequence of his failing health, he appointed father Nadal his assistant. During the following spring he believed himself to have sufficiently recovered to do without this support, but during the summer of 1556 his health broke entirely down, and he died on July 31, 1556. The only three wishes which he professed to have, the approbation of his order by the Church, the sanction of his book of spiritual exercises by the pope, and the promulgation of the constitution of his order, were fulfilled. During the sixteen years from the foundation of the order until the death of Ignatius, the order spread with a rapidity rarely equaled in the history of monastic orders. SEE JESUITS. In 1609 Ignatius was beatified by pope Paul V; in 1622 he was canonized by Gregory XV. The Acta Sanctorum for July 31 gives, besides the Commentarius praevius, two biographies of Ignatius — one by Gonzales, based on communications received from Ignatius himself, and another by Ribadeneira. Larger works on the life of Ignatius have been written by Ribadeneira, Maffei, and Orlandini. There is hardly a language spoken which has not furnished us a biography of Ignatius; in English we have his life by Isaac Taylor and by Walpole. See also Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 6:524; Ranke, Röm.-Päpste, 3:383; Retrospective Rev. (1824), volume 9; and the literature in the art. JESUITS SEE JESUITS . (A.J.S.)