Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was the youngest son of a noble Basque family. Ignatius was raised as a courtier at the Spanish court. In the course of his service to the Spanish crown, he attempted to defend the town of Pamplona against the French in 1521. A cannonball shattered his leg and led him to reconsider his way of life.
While recuperating from his wounds at his family’s house, Ignatius had only two books to read, one on the life of Christ and another on the lives of the saints. These books, which he read over and over, and his daydreams about Christ and the saints had a great effect on him. He decided to leave his career as courtier and soldier of the Spanish King and become the follower of Christ instead.
He traveled as a pilgrim to the Monastery at Monserrat, confessed his sins and made a night-long vigil before the altar of Our Lady of Monserrat.
In a cave near there, in the town of Manresa, Ignatius had a profound experience of God’s presence. The Manresa experience changed Ignatius’ plans of life. It led him to the University of Paris to seek theological education. There he formed a circle of friends, who later decided to band together and dedicate themselves to the greater glory of God and the good of all. When their efforts to serve in the Holy Land came to nothing, they decided to place themselves at the service of the Pope, who could send them throughout the world, wherever there was a need.
Wherever Jesuits have gone throughout the world, their mission has always remained the same: To “seek the greater glory of God and the good of all humanity.”
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