St. Ignatius and the Society of Jesus
The life of Ignatius exemplifies the principle of contemplation in action.
A man transformed
Born in 1491 at Loyola, Spain, as a young nobleman Ignatius enjoyed all the pleasures of court life until he served in battle at Pamplona in 1521. There he was seriously wounded, and during his recuperation at his family home at Loyola, he began reading about the life of Christ and the saints. Inspired by what he read, he began to experience a conversion to God. His reflections profoundly altered the course of his life.
Ignatius embarked on a spiritual quest in 1522, going first to the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat near Barcelona, then to the village of Manresa. There an 11-month sojourn of prayer and devotion crystallized his faith, his sense of purpose, and the themes that he would develop in the Spiritual Exercises.
The pilgrim saint
Pilgrimage became a constant element in his life—to the Holy Land, to Paris for university study, and finally to Rome, where he established the Society of Jesus between 1538 and 1540. From the beginning, when the first Jesuits journeyed across Europe and to Brazil, Ethiopia, India, and the Far East, the pilgrim spirit has characterized the Society. Moreover, wherever Ignatius and the early Jesuits went, they worked extensively with laymen and women. The mobility and collaboration which characterized the early Society continue to guide the California Province today.
"Prayer that stays on your knees and doesn't apply to the world isn't the prayer of Jesus Christ."
Edward Samanuego, S.J.