The feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola is celebrated on July 31. St. Ignatius of Loyola was born the youngest of 13 children in a family castle in Guipuzcoa, Spain. Until he was 30, he served as a courtier and soldier in Spain. Ignatius was wounded when a cannonball shattered his leg. While in the hospital he spent a great deal of time studying the lives of the saints. When he was finally released from the hospital, he decided he should try to imitate the saints. He went to confession, and then lived in a cave for about a year while caring for the poor and sick.
He entered school at the age of 35. After studying Latin and theology in several different schools, he received his degree in Paris. While in Paris, he met St. Francis Xavier who was one of his followers. Ignatius, with five followers founded the Order of the Society of Jesus, which came to be known as the Jesuits. They offered themselves to the Pope, for any work he wanted them to do. The Jesuits were known for their missionary work. They were a great influence during the Counter Reformation.
St. Ignatius was a mystic. He had several visions. His spirituality focused on the Trinity, Christ and the Eucharist. His motto was “All for the greater glory of God.” In 1548, his book The Spiritual Exercises was printed. This introduces the concept of a 30-day retreat.
St. Ignatius died of Roman Fever, almost blind, at the age of 65 on July 31, 1556. St. Ignatius is the patron saint of Catholic soldiers, and retreats.
The Basilica of St Ignatius of Loyola was built next to the house where he was born in Azpeita, the Basque Country. The house itself is now a museum. St. Ignatius’ legacy includes many Jesuit schools and educational institutions. In the U.S. alone there are 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. There are more than 50 Jesuit secondary schools.
Lord Jesus Christ
take all my freedom
and my will.
All that I have and cherish
You have given me.
I surrender it all
to be guided by Your will
Your grace and Your love
are wealth enough for me.
Give me these, Lord Jesus
and I ask for nothing more.
Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola
St. Ignatius of Loyola in Art
July is the Month of the Most Precious Blood