This month my focus is on St. Ignatius as his feast day is July 31. I think it’s helpful to place him in time and place as we get to know him. Today we’ll begin with a timeline of his life.
1491: Ignatius was born in the Castle of Loyola in the Basque region of Spain.
1517: He enlisted in the army of the viceroy of Navarre and in his first battle defending Pamplona he was hit by a cannonball which shattered his right leg and injured his left. He was taken home to Loyola and doctors realized his right leg had been set improperly. So, it was broken and set again. This is when his inner conversion began. He realized that thoughts of being a soldier gave him moments of happiness while contemplating the saints, he was joyful and at peace.
1521: Ignatius decides to make a pilgrimage to confess the sins of his youth and lay down his sword in Montserrat.
1522: He confesses, does penance, and surrenders himself totally to God on the vigil of the feast of Mary on March 25. He then goes to Manresa, lives in a Dominican monastery. He earned money by begging, fasted, visited the sick in hospitals and spent many long nights praying in caves. He was a changed man. Then, his past sinfulness often overtook him, and he was filled with remorse and unable to accept God’s forgiveness. With the help of a spiritual director, who had him break his prolonged fasting he was able to accept God’s comfort. As time went on, God blessed him with deep, consoling spiritual experiences.
1523: Goes to Rome to seek permission to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He goes to the Holy Land. His intention was to stay in the Holy Land but after 3 weeks he was asked to leave for his own safety. He returned to Spain.
1524: In Barcelona, he realized that to preach God’s word he needed to study, so he began Latin lessons.
1526: Ignatius enters the university in Alcala to study philosophy. Studying was not easy for him; his age and poor health did not help. He was jailed by local church officials twice to stop him from preaching and teaching religion.
1528: He leaves for Paris to complete his studies. He guides other in making the spiritual exercises.
1534: Ignatius and 6 other men make a formal commitment to live and work together and make vows of poverty and chastity.
1535: Ignatius completes his studies in philosophy and theology; travels to Venice and waits for his companions to come from Paris.
1537: Ignatius was ordained a priest and desired to again go to the Holy Land. Hostilities prevented him and the group, now called, the Company of Jesus, from going. Instead, they went to Rome.
1538-39: While in Rome the group taught, gave the spiritual exercises, preached, and served the poor. They discerned they should stay together and took an additional vow of obedience. Pope Paul III gave oral approval for the founding of a new religious order, the Society of Jesus.
1540: The church officially accepted the order and Ignatius was elected its first general for life.
1556: July 31, Ignatius dies in Rome.
There’s more, much more, or course, but this gives a broad sweep and some idea of how Ignatius came to be a priest who tried always to serve the greater glory of God.
Information source: Praying with Ignatius of Loyola by Jacqueline Bergan and Marie Schwan