Saint Ignatius of Loyola Biography

(Priest, Confessor and Founder of the Society of Jesus)

Birthday: October 23, 1491 (Libra)

Born In: Azpeitia, Spain

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was of noble birth and belonged to the Noble Basque family. Early in life, he was asked to be a part of ‘court’ and developed a taste for all it offered, particularly the ladies. His early life was dotted with gambling, excesses and the occasional dueling, but as he hit adulthood, he left his lavish life at court and looked for more exciting venues, which in his case, was joining the military. However, in a battle, he was left seriously wounded and during rehabilitation, he found himself absorbing the life, the ideologies and the works of Jesus Christ. The more he read, the more he considered the deeds of saints worth emulating. Nonetheless, he began nurturing the possible devotion and the endless adulation he might receive if he became a saint himself and soon enough, he devoted himself to God. He claimed that he saw a vision of Virgin Mary and infant Jesus while at the shrine of ‘Our Lady of Montseratt’ and thereafter, travelled to Manresa, where he began formulating the fundamentals of ‘Spiritual Exercises’. He took a vow of chastity and soon enough, with the approval of Pope Paul III, he emerged not only as a religious leader, but also founded the Society of Jesus and became its first Superior General. Scroll further to learn more.

Quick Facts

Spanish Celebrities Born In October

Also Known As: Ignatius of Loyola, Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola

Died At Age: 64

Born Country: Spain

Saints Priests

Died on: July 31, 1556

place of death: Rome, Italy

Cause of Death: Malaria

Notable Alumni: Collège Sainte-Barbe, University Of Alcalá, Collège De Montaigu

More Facts

education: University Of Paris, Collège Sainte-Barbe, University Of Alcalá, Collège De Montaigu

  • 1

    When was Saint Ignatius of Loyola born?

    Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born on October 23, 1491.
  • 2

    What is the significance of Saint Ignatius of Loyola?

    Saint Ignatius of Loyola is the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, and is considered a prominent figure in the Catholic Church for his spiritual teachings and contributions to education.
  • 3

    Where did Saint Ignatius of Loyola die?

    Saint Ignatius of Loyola died in Rome, Italy on July 31, 1556.
  • 4

    What is the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola?

    The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola is a compilation of prayers, meditations, and contemplative practices designed to help individuals deepen their relationship with God and discern His will in their lives.
  • 5

    Why is Saint Ignatius of Loyola considered a saint?

    Saint Ignatius of Loyola is considered a saint in the Catholic Church due to his holiness, founding of the Jesuits, and his profound impact on spiritual life through his writings and teachings.
Childhood & Early Life
Ignatius Loyola was born in Azpeitia, in the Basque county of Spain. He was baptized as Inigo, but started using Ignatius instead of his christening name.
The youngest of the thirteen children, he was brought up by the local blacksmith’s wife, Maria, since his biological mother had died soon after his birth. He adopted the last name, ‘de Loyola’ and was sent to become a ‘page’ in the service of the treasurer of the kingdom of Castile, Juan Velazquez.
Just like any other young noble child, he often dreamt of fame and indulged in aristocratic exercises like fencing. At the age of 17, he joined the army and participated in a number of battles.
On May 20, 1521, he was wounded by a cannonball, which left him seriously injured. During convalescence, he read the ‘De Vita Christi’, which was a commentary on the life of Jesus Christ. He also read a number of other religious and spiritual works and soon, resolved to devote himself to the conversion of non-Christians in the Holy Land.
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Later Years
He visited the Benedictine monastery, ‘Santa Maria de Montserrat’ on March 25, 1522 and then travelled to the town of Manresa, Catalonia, where he practiced asceticism.
From 1522 to 1524, he authored ‘Spiritual Exercises’, a set of meditations, prayers and mental exercises. However it was not published for a very long time and was shelved for a brief period.
At the age of forty-three, he joined the College du Montaigu at the University of Paris, where he stayed for over seven years. It was after he received his degree, he was conferred the title of ‘Master Ignatius’.
On August 15, 1534, he and his companions formed the ‘Society of Jesus’, a religious association of the Catholic Church, whose affiliates, known as Jesuits, served the Pope as apostles. Loyola served as the society’s spiritual director.
In 1548, ‘Spiritual Exercises’ was finally published and he began penning the Jesuit Constitution. This was finally adopted in 1554 and the main principle of the constitution became ‘Ad maiorem Dei Gloriam’, which meant, ‘for the greater glory of God’.
From 1553 to 1555, he dictated his life story to his secretary, who helped him write his autobiography, a year before his death.
Major Works
‘Spiritual Exercises’, authored by Ignatius Loyola from 1522 to 1524, are a set of Christian meditations and prayers, written with the intention of helping others to cognize the life of Jesus Christ. The book was officially approved by Pope Paul III in 1548 and went on to become an integral application of Roman Catholic and non-Catholic practices around the world. To date, the exercises are undertaken in its original form and participants usually spend their days in silence and exercise up to 5-6 hours a day.
Personal Life & Legacy
He passed away in Rome, due to Roman Fever, a type of malaria.
He was sainted and consecrated on March 12, 1622 and was made the society’s ‘Father General’ by fellow Jesuits.
There are a number of institutes that are dedicated to Saint Ignatius including the ‘Basilica of St. Ignatius Loyola’ and a number of other schools and educational institutions worldwide.
Today, the official colours of the Loyola family are recognized as maroon and gold as per the symbol of the St. Ignatius family.
Facts About Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was known for his love of books and his desire to constantly learn and grow in knowledge, despite having little formal education before his conversion.
Ignatius experienced a profound spiritual awakening while recovering from a battle injury, leading him to dedicate his life to serving God and spreading the teachings of the Catholic faith.
Despite his serious and disciplined approach to spirituality, Ignatius had a playful and humorous side, often using wit and humor to connect with others and teach important lessons.
As the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Ignatius emphasized the importance of education and intellectual pursuits, believing that knowledge and learning were essential for deepening one's faith.
Ignatius had a deep appreciation for nature and often found solace and inspiration in the beauty of the natural world, seeing it as a reflection of God's creativity and love.

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