Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
St. Ignatius Loyola
Founder of the Jesuits
Feast day: July 31
St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Guip˙zcoa, Spain, the
youngest of 13 children, and was called I˝igo. At the age of sixteen
years he was sent to serve as a page to Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of
the kingdom of Castile. As a member of the Velazquez household, he was
frequently at court and developed a taste for all it presented,
especially the ladies.
Eventually he found himself at the age of 30 in May of 1521 as an
officer defending the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the
French, who claimed the territory as their own against Spain. The
Spaniards were terribly outnumbered and the commander of the Spanish
forces wanted to surrender, but Ignatius convinced him to fight on for
the honor of Spain, if not for victory. During the battle a cannon ball
struck Ignatius, wounding one leg and breaking the other. Because they
admired his courage, the French soldiers carried him back to recuperate
at his home, the castle of Loyola, rather than to prison.
His leg was set but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again
and reset it, all without anesthesia. Ignatius grew worse and was
finally told by the doctors that he should prepare for death.
On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) he took an unexpected
turn for the better. The leg healed, but when it did the bone protruded
below the knee and one leg was shorter than the other. This was
unacceptable to Ignatius, who considered it a fate worse than death not
to be able to wear the long, tight-fitting boots and hose of the
courtier. Therefore he ordered the doctors to saw off the offending knob
of bone and lengthen the leg by systematic stretching. Again, all of
this was done without anesthesia. Unfortunately, this was not a
successful procedure. All his life he walked with a limp because one leg
was shorter than the other.
While St. Ignatius recovered, he read the lives of the saints, and
decided to dedicate himself to becoming a soldier of the Catholic Faith.
Soon after he experienced visions, but a year later suffered a trial of
fears and scruples, driving him almost to despair. Out of this
experience he wrote his famous "Spiritual Exercises".
After traveling and studying in different schools, he finished in Paris,
where he received his degree at the age of 43. Many first hated St.
Ignatius because of his humble Lifestyle. Despite this, he attracted
several followers at the university, including St. Francis Xavier, and
soon started his order called The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. There
are 38 members of the Society of Jesus who have been declared Blessed,
and 38 who have been canonized as saints. He died at the age of 65.