Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) is one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church. He was a Spanish Basque priest, theologian, and founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He is the patron saint of soldiers, educators, and Jesuit schools, and his feast day is celebrated on July 31st.
He was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.
Ignatius was born on October 23, 1491, in the city of Azpeitia, in the Basque region of Spain. He came from a noble Basque family and was raised in a pious Catholic household. He was a knight in the Spanish military, but was seriously wounded in a battle in 1521. This injury led him to a spiritual conversion and he dedicated his life to the service of God. He began his religious journey by making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and studying under various spiritual masters. He then devoted himself to a rigorous program of prayer and spiritual exercises, which he eventually wrote down in a book called The Spiritual Exercises. This book remains one of the most important works of spirituality and has been translated into many languages. Saint Ignatius is also known for his poetic works, including the hymn “Pange Lingua”.
In 1534, Ignatius and six other companions founded the Society of Jesus, which was formally approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. The Jesuits sought to help people convert to Catholicism and spread the faith throughout the world. The order eventually spread to all five continents and continues to be a major presence in the Catholic Church today.
Little known trivia about Ignatius includes the fact that he was a skilled musician and wrote many hymns. He was also an accomplished athlete and enjoyed playing tennis. He was also an avid reader, and enjoyed the works of Aristotle, the Bible, and the writings of the Church Fathers.
St. Ignatius of Loyola is a Saint remembered for his unwavering dedication to the service of God and the spread of the Catholic faith.