The Life of St. Ignatius Loyola

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The Life of St. Ignatius Loyola

Pictorial Biography


which was written and published in the year of Ignatius' beatification, 1609 by Nicholas Lancicius, S.J., Filippo Rinaldi, S.J. and Peter Pazmany, S.J.
The sketches were made by the Society's good friend, Peter Paul Rubens who greatly desired to help in the cause of the canonization of Ignatius Loyola.


Peter Pazmany (Hungarian: 1570-1637) was known as the creator of the philosophical and theological language of Hungary. His sermons were said to have been very moving and his writings have become a landmark in the history of Hungarian literature. Both Hungary and Czechoslovakia claim him, and often compete with each other in honoring him with commemorative stamps. He was the founder of the Jesuit University of Trnava, which was the first Hungarian university. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: "By far the greatest figure of the age was Peter Cardinal Pazmany, S.J., a former Protestant who became Catholicism's most zealous and most brilliant leader. Almost single-handedly he reconverted the greater part of Hungary to Catholicism." Just when whole families were leaving the Church he came to the rescue. He created a philosophical and theological language for Hungary. In 1616 Pope Paul V circumvented the Jesuit prohibition against ecclesiastical honors and made Peter Pazmany Cardinal and the primate of Hungary.

I have electronically reproduced these 80 pictures. This ancient book is part of the Jesuitana (Jesuit Collection) found in the John J. Burns Library of Boston College, and was graciously made available to me by the Burns Library director Robert O'Neill. It has no preface or introduction, the artists are not mentioned nor is it clear how involved Peter Pazmany was in its publication. Not all of the pictures match the incidents found in Ignatius' Autobiography.

Joseph MacDonnell, S.J.



Chronology of the life of Ignatius Loyola



{Adapted from St Ignatius of Loyola Personal Writings by J Munitz & P Endean pg xiii}


I491 Probable date of birth. The family was distinguished in the Basque country, possessed considerable land, and had contacts with the Castilian nobility. His baptismal names were I–igo L—pez, the first of these being the one most used until the name 'Ignatius' began to appear.
1506 Move to Arevalo (some miles north of Avila) to serve as page in the household of Juan Velazquez de Cuellar, Treasurer of King Ferdinand of Castile; formal courtly education.
I5I5 Summoned for involvement in a brawl near Loyola.
I5I7 Financial ruin and death of his patron; Inigo obtains post.in the retinue of Antonio Manrique, Duke of Najera and Viceroy of Navarre.
I52I Successful diplomatic mission in Guipœzcoa; then disastrous of Pamplona, where his right leg is shattered; operation and convalescence; conversion experience.
1522 Visits Montserrat; then moves temporarily to Manresa, where leads a life of prayer and penance.
1523 Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, via Rome and Venice.
1524 Settles in Barcelona, starts private studies: first text of Spiritual Exercises (?); Letter 1.
1526 Moves (with three followers) to Alcala for University studies; first ecclesiastical trial.
1527 Second and third trials; moves to Salamanca; interrogated by Dominicans, new trial.
1528 Moves alone to Paris, and re-starts studies.
1529-35 Arts course, with begging journeys to Flanders and England in search of funds; 'First Companions' contacted.
1532 Letters 2, 3.
1534 'Vows' at Montmartre.
1535 Travels to Spain (return visit to Loyola) and Italy. Private theology studies in Venice; Letters 4-7.
1537 First Companions regroup; ordination to priesthood, Letter 8; move to Rome, with vision at La Storta; well received by Pope Paul III.
1538 After one year's wait, proposed move to Jerusalem seen to be impossible; meets strong opposition in Rome, overcome by recourse to Pope; acquittal at trial; Letters 9-1O.
1539 Deliberations about founding of new order; project arouses strong criticism.
1540 Papal Bull founding the Society of Jesus; departure of Xavier for India.
1541 Preliminary draft of Constitutions; election as Superior General and first formal vows.
1542-43 Growth of correspondence; active philanthropic work in Rome (with prostitutes, Jews and children).
1544-45 Discernment process recorded - Spiritual Diary - and begins writing of Constitutions.
1546 Society takes active part in Council of Trent (Letter 14); Francis Borgia joins secretly (Letter 13); opposition to episcopal dignities (Letter 15).
1547-49 Arrival of Polanco as secretary (Letter 18); alarming developments in Portugal (Letters 16, 20) and Gand’a (Letters 17, 22-23); educational interests (Letter 24).
1550 Holy Year; finishes first draft of Constitutions; Francis Borgia in Rome announces his membership in the Society.
1551 Initial approval of Constitutions by all available First Companions; letter of resignation (Letter 26); founding of Roman College.
1552-54 Despite chronic ill-health (especially in 1553) active administration, with particular reflection on nature of obedience (Letters 28, 31), involvement in high political spheres (Letter 30) and education.
1555 Dictation of Reminiscences; continued administration (Letters 34-40) Constant ill-health, then sudden death in the morning of 31 July.

A stained glass window in the Loyola basilica in Guipœzcoa, Spain.
Maps showing the important Ignatian sites.


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Ignatius surrounded by his later martyr companions
Life of Ignatius
A stained glass window in the Loyola basilica in Guipœzcoa, Spain.
Maps showing the important Ignatian sites.
01 About to give birth, Ignatius' mother, out of piety, requested to be taken to the stable: thus is born her seventh son.
02 Ignatius belonged to the army and while defending a fort at Pamplona his leg was shattered by a cannon ball. Shaken and transformed, his life was open to divine influence.
03 While suffering from the leg wound and near death, St. Peter appeared to Ignatius during convalescence and restored him to health.
04 Lying in bed Ignatius read the lives of Christ and of the saints for his only recreation and found himself glowing with desire to imitate their virtues.
05 Having sought divine help from the Blessed Virgin he spoke with God and saw the infant Jesus in Mary's arms. All this pleasantly energized him.
06 While pouring out his soul in prayer he fervently offered himself to God, when suddenly an earthquake shook the house.
07 He left home and kin and hastened to Montserrat. Dismissing his servants he went directly to the Virgin's altar.
08 He once met a Moor and argued about Blessed Mary's virginity. As they departed he wondered if he should physically challenge the Moor, so at a fork in the road he let loose his mule's reins. When the mule did not follow the path of the Moor Ignatius took this as a sign from God that vengeance was not what God wanted.
09 On the same trip he was filled with love for the Virgin Mary and bound himself to her by a vow of chastity. Then he received the gift of chastity and found that all impure tendencies were extinguished.
10 Taking off his expensive clothes he exchanged them for the sackcloth of a passing pauper.
11 When he reached Montserrat as a new knight of Christ he remained in an all-night vigil before the altar of the Virgin where he hung up his armament, sword and all signs of his military past.
12 Having progressed in solitude, a raging demon in various serpentine shapes over his head, he calmly persevered in prayer.
13 Living among the poor, he drew many away from their lives of vice.
14 Daily he prayed for seven hours, beating himself soundly three times a day.
15 Daily he fasted, content with bread and water. In spite of this penance he experienced no loss of strength, but he was severely tempted to throw himself over the precipice.
16 While he recited Lauds of the Blessed Virgin in the Dominican church he received visions and enlightenment from the Holy Trinity.
17 While at Mass in the same church he saw how Christ was in the elevated host.
18 Frequently Christ and His Mother appeared to Ignatius for long periods of time. They inspired him to magnanimity and piety.
19 In a rapture, while lying on the ground for 7 days, he exhibited no life-signs except a slight pulse. Finally he awoke murmuring: "Jesus".
20 He experienced a divinely infused understanding of things both human and divine.
21 By a divine infusion of light he composed the little book of the Spiritual Exercises.
22 Before boarding the ship and fortified with trust in God, he threw on the ground the money that he had begged for his journey to Jerusalem.
23 Near Padua, while anxious about the dangers of the journey, the night and the weather he was consoled by a vision of Christ in the sky.
24 In Venice while sleeping on the portico of St. Mark's he was awakened by a nobleman saying to onlookers: "You sleep comfortably while my servant sleeps on the ground. Take care of him."
25 Because of their vices, sailors maliciously planned to abandon Ignatius. Suddenly a wind drove the ship back to Cyprus.
26 During the difficult journey to Jerusalem Christ showed himself to Ignatius frequently to lessen his difficulties.
27 In spite of recurring danger, he visited the holy places such as the Mount of Olives and contemplated the footprint of Christ left after the Ascension.
28 Returning from the Mount of Olives he was taken into custody by an armed Armenian. He had been warned not to go alone to these places and was forcibly brought to a hostel. During this time he continuously saw visions of Christ.
29 On the return trip to Spain the captain of the Venetian ship tried to exclude Ignatius, asking: "If he is so holy why does he need a ship?, why not walk on the water? Why is he abandoned and lacerated? Still he arrived in Spain in spite of a later shipwreck.
30 In front of churches he gave money to beggars who openly called him a saint knowing that the money he gave them he had begged for food which he needed for himself.
31 The Spanish guard arrested him and marched him nude through the camp. He endured these indignities in imitation of Christ being marched from Pilate to Herod.
32 At the age of 33 he went to Barcelona to learn the elements of grammar to prepare for the work of saving souls. A noisy demon tried to dissuade him from his plan by offering him false enticements.
33 He was beaten by savage blows in an undignified manner by impure men because of his attempt to restore abused women to a secure life.
34 He saved a man desirous of hanging himself from despair.
35 Absorbed in prayer and four cubits off the floor, his face shining in a marvelous way, he was heard to cry frequently: "O Lord if they only knew you."
36 Accused and calumniated, he went to jail and there won souls with his special fervor. He cried; "There are not enough shekels in the city to prevent me from proclaiming the cause of Christ."
37 A certain hostile man was calling down flames on Ignatius which would burn him to death unless Ignatius would undergo trial by fire. That same day the man's house was destroyed by fire.
38 While in Lutevia he was accused of corrupting youth and was publicly beaten. A man who knew him saved him speaking of his holiness. He turned an infamous affair into a triumph.
39 He chose nine youths from the Parisian Academy to join him as his companions.
40 An assassin attacking him with a drawn sword was stopped by a voice: "What are you doing, you scoundrel?" Terrified, he abandoned his crime.
41 In a suburban chapel of the Blessed Virgin he and his nine companions took their vows, especially to go to Jerusalem and seek the palm of martyrdom. Each year they repeated this vow.
42 In an effort to dissuade a man from an impure life he stood in freezing water in the middle of winter and thus converted the man who was frightened by this sound and the sight.
43 For reasons of health he returned to Spain with a reputation for holiness. Soldiers, clerics and the whole town came out to greet him with friendly wishes.
44 Although ill in Spain he worked strenuously. He invited people outside to preach to them in the fields (since they did not frequent the churches) and he was heard 300 paces away.
45 While praying and lifting his eyes to heaven he cured a man of epilepsy.
46 By making the sign of the cross he cured many from possession.
47 He restored a woman who was close to death with tuberculosis.
48 When she washed the linens of Ignatius a woman's withered arm was restored.
49 He returned to Italy and Venice, then met his companions in France and was ordained. The bishop was filled with joy and had a divine premonition about this newly ordained priest.
50 He traveled 18 miles to be with his companion, Simon Rodriguez, who was near death, but who recovered immediately with Ignatius' embrace.
51 One of his companions was intimidated by an apparition of a menacing armed horseman threatening him with a sword. Ignatius calmed the man with the words of the Lord: "Why do you doubt, Oh you of little Faith?"
52 The Lord appeared to a hermit, who had contempt for Ignatius, and made him understand that Ignatius would be responsible for the salvation of many.
53 In a deserted place not far from the city, God the Father appeared to Ignatius and revealed His Son carrying the cross. A voice said: "I will be propitious to you in Rome." This inspired Ignatius to name his society after Jesus.
54 After ordination he prepared 18 months to celebrate Mass at the crib of the Lord in Rome (at the basilica of St. Mary Major).
55 In the Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino he saw the soul of his friend Diego Hozes going to heaven and as he said the words "choirs of saints" he saw Hozes join the heavenly body.
56 After Pope Paul III read the "Institute" by Ignatius he commented: "The finger of God is here" and then confirmed the Society in the year 1540.
57 Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he sent to the Indies Francis Xavier who is called "The Apostle of the Indies.
58 Although unwilling to be the Superior General, but unable to refuse, he was elected. During a visit to St. Paul's outside the walls the companions took a fourth solemn vow of obedience to the Roman Pontiff.
59 From Japan, Francis Xavier wrote to Ignatius; "I write on my knees in gratitude to my father in the Faith and venerate you. I beg you to pray to God that I may know His holy will and have the courage to carry it out. Hail to you. Your least son, living in exile a great distance away. F.X. S.J.
60 In Rome he renewed preaching the sacraments and pious practices and also introduced a plan to teach children in the churches and in the plazas.
61 He was accused of crimes while in Rome and had been condemned. But judges of his innocence in other cities came to be witnesses of his innocence.
62 While crossing the bridge on the way to St. Peter's on the golden mountain to say Mass for Jean Codure, he suddenly stopped on the bridge as he came to understand that his companion had died.
63 At St. Catherine's and the Four Crowned Saints in Rome he instituted a home for women who had been involved in bad marriages, for orphans and wandering beggars; he also instituted a great college which was admired by everyone.
64 In the North, because of the supplications and prayers of Ignatius, Pope Julius III founded the German College for youth. It was to benefit the German Guard in Rome as much as it did the Church.
65 He wrote the constitutions with frequent apparitions of the Blessed Trinity while often witnessing the approval of the Blessed Virgin.
66 He confronted a headstrong Jewish companion pleading: "Stay with us Isaac."
67 Frequently he was disturbed by demons during his prayer and his sleep at night.
68 While watching the heavens he received a gift of tears often exclaiming: "How sordid is the earth when I see the heavens." When the tears clouded his vision, he asked God for help and another gift was given drying the tears.
69 While celebrating Mass as he offered the sacred host mighty flames leapt from above his head.
70 Once while praying he seized a packet of letters seeking his return to worldly concerns, and he threw them into the fireplace nearby.
71 He saw hidden secrets of a soul as well as the future as a prophet would see it. He predicted events with the help of the Virgin Mary.
72 After he recognized the demon in the face of a serpent he drove it away with a stick.
73 Often St. Philip Neri beheld Ignatius's radiant face which disclosed his holiness.
74 When Alexander Petrony suffered from an illness, Ignatius appeared to him and like lightening cured his illness as well as the others present who saw the vision.
75 When the fathers of Laurence College infested with ghosts read letters sent by Ignatius they were freed from the terror caused by the demons.
76 A Jesuit living in Cologne planned to visit Rome to enjoy the presence of Ignatius. Instead Ignatius came to him in an apparition.
77 At the same instant Ignatius died in Rome he was seen by a noble woman entering heaven.
78 A girl who suffered from tuberculosis could not get close enough to the casket to touch Ignatius, so she seized a small piece of his clothing and was cured. Leaves and flowers taken from the casket also brought cures to many others.
79 While his bones were being transferred stars were seen shining along with celestial harmony.
80 Pope Gregory XV in a solemn rite of the Catholic Church enrolled Ignatius among the list of the saints on 12 March 1622.


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