The parents of Saint Ignatius were Don Bertram Tanez and Doila Marina of the house of Saenz, of Licona and Balda, whose union God blessed with eight daughters and three sons. The day and month of his birth are unknown, but the acts of his life show that he was born in the year 1491. Ignatius, while still a child, was placed with one of his aunts, Dona Maria de Guebera. He there received a Christian education, and afterwards entered as a page into the court of Ferdinand the Catholic. He remained at court until his twenty-sixth year, when he attached himself to the household of his kinsman, Don Antonio Manrique, Duke of Najara, under whom he first learned to carry arms. After displaying his courage in several campaigns, he received on 20 May 1521, at the siege of Pampeluna, a wound by which he was crippled for life. During the tedious confinement which follow ed, his attention was directed to the mysteries of religion; the thoughts which had before engrossed his mind vanishing in proportion as the new ideas arising in it became more vivid.
In the spring of 1522, finding himself well enough to undertake a journey, he directed his way towards the Monastery of Our Lady of Montserrat. On his arrival, he confessed, with abundance of tears, the sins of all his life, and also communicated to his confessor his designs and his plan of life, which he had as yet done to no one. Before his departure, he suspended his sword and dagger near the altar in the church; then, having given to a mendicant his rich dress, and wrapping himself in a cloth of coarse serge, his head and feet bare, and supporting himself with a staff, he forgot entirely Inigo de Loyola, and put on, so to speak, an other person in the poor unknown pilgrim, as he styles himself, and so departed at break of day, after receiving Holy Communion.
In 1523, Saint Ignatius visited Rome, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, returning to Spain in 1524. He passed several ensuing years at Barcelona, Alcala, and Salamanca in the study of grammar, philosophy, etc., which he had neglected in his youth. In 1528, he became a student in the University of Paris, where he remained seven years, and where he had for fellow students and companions Francis Xavier, Peter Faber, James Laynez, and Nicholas Alphonso, surnamed, from the place of his birth, Bobadilla, in whom he saw a most important nucleus for his future community. To them he disclosed the project he had long entertained of visiting the Holy Land ior the sake both of pious pilgrim age and of shedding their blood, if necessary, for the conversion to the Christian faith of countries in which Catholicity had once flourished, but which now for centuries had been overrun by the children of the false prophet. They accepted his proposal with joy, and chose 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption, as the day on which to take their vows, in order to show that they took the Blessed Virgin for their patroness. In 1537, Ignatius and his companions arrived in Rome, and presented themselves to the Pope, Paul III, who received them favorably.
The society, after having completed the sketch of its constitution, laid upon our saint the task of drawing up a formula to be presented for the approbation of the Holy See. The pope sent the formula to be examined by Thomas Badia, the Dominican, Master of the Sacred Palace, who, at the end of two months, sent it back with a favorable reply. In the year 1541, Saint Ignatius was chosen Superior-General of the order, which was styled the Society of Jesus. He remained thenceforth in Rome, where he died in 1566.
Before his death, he had the happiness of counting twelve provinces of his order established in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Upwards of one hundred colleges had been opened, which attracted crowds of eager pupils, and the members of the society, sixteen years after its foundation, numbered seven thousand. He was canonized in 1622. His chief work is Manresa; or, The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. Several lives of Saint Ignatius have been written, notably those of Ribadeneira, Bartoli, and Genelli, and lately Mr. Stewart Rose has given us one that has been much admired by the critics.
Birth Place of Saint Ignatius
At a short distance from the town of Azpeytia, in the province of Guipuscoa, Spain, stands the majestic edifice represented in our engraving. This grand architectural mass is situated on a gently rising eminence commanding the flat of a narrow vale enclosed by mountains, and watered by the little stream of Urola. Of the building itself, the centre forms the church. On the one side is the college, and on the other the hospital, which encloses a tower — the last vestige of the Castle of Loyola, the birth-place of Saint Ignatius. The castle came into the possession of the Society of Jesus through the liberality of Anne of Austria, who purchased it from the heirs of the family title, that a college might be added over which the king should have the right of patronage. Her son, Charles II, confirmed this grant, but forbade the destruction of the old family castle.
No essential change has been made in its interior, but it has been adorned with a magnificence suitable to its present purposes. In the court-yard opposite the entrance is a chapel and place of interment for the inmates of the college. To the right, the staircase leads to a chamber where confessions were heard, and from it a tribune looks into a chapel in which Saint Francis Borgia said his first Mass. The upper story is divided into a sacristy and oratory on the left hand, while on the right is the room in which Saint Ignatius lay sick, and which is now a chapel. It is low, but ornamented with great magnificence, the pavement being laid in marble mosaic work, the beams of the ceiling being gilt, and the walls covered with frescoes. Above the old entrance gate are the family arms, rudely carved in stone, representing two lions rampant and lambent, having between them a cauldron, or something similar, suspended by a chain. The great church, which is circular, is 131 feet in diameter, and 200 feet high, and is faced with costly and variegated marble.
The following poem by the Rev. Francis Mahony, better known as “Father Prout,” commemorates the night-watch of arms of Saint Ignatius in the Monastery of Montserrat, when, on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, he passed the night in watching and prayer before the altar, and, in the spirit of the most exalted chivalry, resigned his sword for ever, resolved to devote himself henceforth to holier pursuits:
Don Ignacio Loyola’s Vigil in the Chapel of Our Lady of Montserrat
When at thy shrine, most holy Maid,
The Spaniard hung his votivetblade,
And bared his helmed brow –
Not that he feared war’s visage grim,
Or that the battle-field for him
Had aught to daunt, I trow –
“Glory!” he cried, “with thee I’ve done!
Fame! thy bright theatres I shun.
To tread fresh pathways now:
To track thy footsteps, Saviour God!
With throbbing heart, with feet unshod:
Hear and record my vow.
“Yes, thou shalt reign! Chained to thy throne,
The mind of man thy sway shall own,
And to its Conqueror bow.
Genius his lyre to thee shall lift,
And intellect its choicest gift
Proudly on thee bestow.”
Straight on the marble floor he knelt,
And in his breast exulting felt
A vivid furnace-glow;
Forth to his task the giant sped,
Earth shook abroad beneath his tread,
And idols were laid low.
India repaired half Europe’s loss;
O’er a new hemisphere the cross
Shone in the azure sky,
And, from the isles of far Japan
To the broad Andes, won o’er man
A bloodless victory!
- “Saint Ignatius Loyola”. , 1874. CatholicSaints.Info. 16 January 2017. Web. 24 March 2017. <>