St. Ignatius of Loyola
Iñigo, the son of Don Beltrán Yañez de Oñez y Loyola and Marina Saenz de Lieona y Balda was born in 1491 at his family’s castle. While serving in the court of Spain’s head treasurer, Iñigo was worldly and wild, with dreams of winning glory. He served in Spain’s army and 1521 was his leg was badly broken by a cannon ball as his garrison was defending Pamplona against the French. The garrison surrendered and Iñigo was carried home to Loyola. There he underwent painful surgery to reset the bone which had been badly set; while recovering, he read a books on the life of Christ and the lives of the saints, because there was nothing else to read. He soon was ignited with the idea of becoming a knight for Christ. When recovered he went on pilgrimage and made his confession, but he still had much purification to undergo. For a year he lived in solitude in a cave, praying and struggling with temptations. His experiences later inspired him to write the Spiritual Exercises. Iñigo’s faith grew and he decided to prepare for the priesthood. Since he had not learned Latin, he enrolled in a school for small boys to learn this then necessary step to the priesthood. Iñigo soon took the name Ignatius in honor of the early bishop and martyr and was inspired to found a religious order of men who would be solely under the jurisdiction of the pope. In college, Ignatius met Francis Xavier and several other young men who would the first members of his Society of Jesus. Ignatius and Francis Xavier were ordained together. The Society of Jesus received official approval in 1541 and while Ignatius would have liked to have become a missionary like Xavier and many others of his spiritual sons, he remained in Rome to direct his new order. He died in Rome on July 31, 1556. His feast day is July 31.