Our Founder

Inigo Lopez de Loyola. That was the original name of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He was a ‘soldier saint’. Inigo was born in 1491 in Azpeitia in the Basque Province of the northern Spain. He was the youngest of the thirteen children of Beltran and Marina, hailing from a noble family. On the whole, following the example of their ancestors, all the brothers were in the service of the kings of Castile, either bearing arms or participating in the conquest of the Americans. One of his brothers was a priest. Inigo left his ancestral home soon after his father’s death around 1570. Till the age of 26 Inigo’s interest was mainly in the things of the world. He enjoyed exercising with arms. His desire was to win honour as soldier and courtier under Emperor Charles V Engaged at a battle against the French in 1521 at Pamplona, he was hit by a cannon ball on his right leg and was seriously wounded. While recovering in his ancestral house he read books on ‘Life of Christ’ and Lives of Saints.’ He would constantly repeat to himself, “If St.Francis did this, why can’t I? St. Dominic did that! So must I.” The inspirations from the readings led him to turn away from the worldly things. Having recovered from his injury, he hung up his sword, exchanged his rich garment with those of a beggar, and decided to on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As a symbolic gesture of his conversion he kept a vigil of arms one whole night before the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Montserrat. Next, came the sojourn in Manresa. This experience was for him a period of intense spiritual experience. The Spiritual Exercise, a handbook for the fashioning of the Jesuits, is the fruit of the experience of Inigo in Manresa. After visiting the Holy land, he came back to Europe to prepare for his studies of Grammar, Latin, Philosophy, theology and eventually to be a priest. It was at the University of Paris while doing his Master’s degree that he inspired his friend to leave the whole worldly attractions and follow the path of the Lord.” What will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?” Having shared and experiences the life style of Inigo, nine other students, of whom St. Francis Xavier was on, decided to join him. Thus a ban of 10 highly qualified men under the inspiration of Inigo became the founding Fathers of the Society of Jesus. The Society of Jesus was formally approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. Ignatius was unanimously elected the first Superior General of the Order. At his death on 31st July, the Society of Jesus counted a thousand members in hundred houses, divided to eleven provinces.


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