St. Michael's Church

St. Ignatius of Loyola: A Story of God’s Triumphant Plan

Today is the feast day of the great saint, St. Ignatius of Loyola.  St. Ignatius of Loyola lived a life that reminds me of one of life’s great lessons: God’s plans for you are greater than your plans for you.  St. Ignatius had to learn this the hard way, and I think many of us learn this the hard way as well.

Brief Biography of St. Ignatius

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 in Guipuzcoa, Spain.  He was born to Spanish nobility and was one of 13 children.  He lived the normal childhood of Spanish nobility and entered the Spanish military in 1517.  At this point in his life he probably had plans of moving through the military ranks and one day having a family of his own, living in a beautiful Spanish castle, and living the adult life of Spanish nobility.  However, God had far different and greater plans for Ignatius.

St. Ignatius’ life began to change in 1521 when a cannonball greatly crippled him and bad surgical operations only worsened the injury.  St. Ignatius was bedridden for around a year and during that time he only had access to The Golden Legend, a collection of saint biographies, and The Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian.  After reading these books he drastically changed his outlook on life and his calling.

After rehabilitation was over he took a vow of chastity and lived in a cave for a year in deep contemplation as to how to live his life.  He  decided to live the pilgrim life in Rome and convert Muslims until he began studying theology in 1528 in Barcelona.  At Barcelona he began not only attracting enemies (some did not like his humble lifestyle) but also followers.  While at university he began experiencing visions, scruples (essentially extreme guilt, sometimes accompanied with despair, over sins or supposed sins), and meditations which all led to his well-known work The Spiritual Exercises.  Out of the university he found followers to join him in starting the Society of Jesus, today commonly known as the Jesuits.  St. Ignatius died at the age of 65.

Lasting Influence of St. Ignatius

St. Ignatius clearly lived an amazing life which took a direction that he could have never imagined.  The Society of Jesus, which he founded, has over 30,000 members and teaches over 200,000 students at over 500 universities and colleges throughout the world.  Furthermore, 38 members of the Society of Jesus have been declared Blessed, and 38 have been canonized as saints.  The Spiritual Exercises are also popular not only amongst Jesuits but lay-men and women as well.  St. Ignatius is also remembered in the popular Ignatius Bible, one of the top Catholic Bible translations, ideal for Bible Studies.