Saint Ignatius De Loyola, founder of the society of Jesus, born at the castle of Loyola, near Azcoytia, Guipuzcoa, Spain, in 1491, died in Rome, July 31, 1550. His true name was Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde de Loyola. The name Loyola probably comes from a device on the family escutcheon of the 10th century over the gate of the castle of Loyola, a camp kettle hung by a chain between two wolves with the words Lobo y olla, "The wolf and the pot." He was the youngest of 11 children, and at the age of 14 was sent to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella as page to the king, whom he accompanied in his wars against the Portuguese, the Navarrese, the French, and the Moors, displaying a valor and capacity which soon raised him to the highest reputation. His courtly bearing was equal to his bravery, and the young soldier seemed destined for a brilliant position in the world when a wound in the leg, received while heroically defending the city of Pamplona against the French in 1521, left him a prisoner and a cripple. The reading of certain lives of the saints during his long convalescence turned his thoughts toward a religious life.
As soon as his health was restored, having regained his liberty, he made a pilgrimage to the famous monastery of Montserrat in Catalonia, changed clothes with a beggar, and concealing his name and rank passed several months at Manresa, part of the time in a solitary cave, performing the " Spiritual Exercises," which he there committed to writing, and partly engaged in the most loathsome offices at a hospital. Long fasts, scourgings, and other self-imposed penances frequently brought him near to death. He was also tormented with dreadful scruples which more than once reduced him almost to despair. There he formed the design of a religious militia with its headquarters at Jerusalem. (See Jesuits.) He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, afterward studied at Alcala and at the university of Paris, where he took his master's degree at the age of 43, gathered a few followers as a nucleus for his society, revisited his native place, and then went to Venice. There he received priest's orders, June 24, 1537, went to Vicenza with two of his companions, Lefevre and Laynez, occupied the ruins of a convent near that city, and spent 40 days in performing the " Spiritual Exercises" as a preparation for celebrating his first mass.
This however he put off doing till Christmas, 1538. In that year he went to Rome with his companions, and unfolded his plans to Pope Paul III. A bull for the establishment of the new order was granted, Sept. 27, 1540. In the following spring Ignatius was unanimously chosen general, and, having fixed his residence at Rome, he applied himself to the final elaboration of the constitutions, of which as yet only a sketch had been drawn up. His subsequent history is that of his order. Besides the common labors of benevolence in which he had been so long engaged, he founded at Rome several charitable institutions, among which were a house for Jewish catechumens, a college for German youth, an asylum for penitent women and poor girls exposed to temptation, and a foundling hospital. For many years his life had been a continual sickness, and for some time previous to his death he was able to take little share in the details of government. He died alone in his room. - Ignatius was of middle stature and noble countenance, but slightly lame owing to his wound at Pamplona. He is often described as a fiery enthusiast, but nothing could be further from the truth. Though of an ardent temperament, his actions were so entirely under his control that during his life he "was commonly thought cold and phlegmatic.
Obedience, humility, and a resignation amounting to indifference, were among the virtues which he most loved to inculcate. He was content, so long as he had not the interests of his disciples to consult, to pass for a fool and a madman; he imitated the speech and manners of the beggars whom he served in the hospitals; he was never so well pleased as when loaded with insults. His early military education had impressed upon his character a firmness which he always retained. Hence he constituted his order somewhat according to military rules, but in his personal intercourse with his disciples he displayed a paternal tenderness, and in governing and framing rules for the society he showed a prudence which has never ceased to excite the admiration of those who have least sympathy with his principles. The chief monument of Ignatius, if we except the society of Jesus itself, is the book of " Spiritual Exercises " which he composed in his solitude at Manresa. It comprises a series of meditations for the use not only of the religious but of persons in the world. " The object which he proposed and attained," says Bartoli, "was to reduce the cure of the soul to an art, by basing upon certain principles of faith an exact and perfect method, which, practised by the application of the means prescribed by him, is almost infallibly successful." The book of exercises has been translated into Latin, French, and English, and often reprinted.
Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V. in 1607, and canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622. His festival is kept on July 31. He was early chosen as the patron saint of Maryland by the Roman Catholic colonists. Among the numerous biographies of him are those of Ribadeneira, Vida de San Ignacio (Madrid, 1570); Maffei, De Vita et Moribus Sancti Ignatii Loyola? (Rome, 1585); Gretser, Apologia pro Vita Sancti Ignatii (3 vols., Ingolstadt, 1599-1604); Michael Walpole, "Life of St. Ignatius" (St. Omer, 1617); Bartoli, De Vita Sancti Ignatii (fob, Rome, 1650; English translation, 2 vols. 12mo, New York, 1855); Bouhours, Vie de St. Ignace (Paris, 1679); Genelli, Leben des heiligen Ignathis von Loyola (Innspruck, 1848; English translation, London, 1871); and Stewart Rose, "Ignatius Loyola and the early Jesuits" (2d ed., London, 1871).