Saint Ignatius of Loyola was the “Founder of the Society of Jesus. Drawn by the reading of pious books, he left his arms and knightly ideals and accomplished great feats for the greater glory of God. His Spiritual Exercises continue giving vocations.”
“Take, O Lord, all my liberty; receive my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and all that I have come to me from Thy bounty; I give it all back to Thee, and surrender it all to the guidance of thy holy Will. Give my Thy Love and Thy Grace; with these, I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.” This is the profound prayer of this Saint, with which the Spiritual Exercises culminate. Small of stature, grandiose of heart, and of proverbial obedience, he was born in the Castle of Loyola, Guipuzcoa, Spain in 1491 into a family of the nobility. The youngest of eight siblings, he was educated in the home of Juan Velazquez, senior accountant of the Catholic Monarchs. His contact with the Court marked a stage in his life of dispersion and desires for glory.
In 1517, after the death of Juan Velazquez, he began a military career. However, in 1521, perhaps on May 20, in the course of a battle in Pamplona against the French, a cannonball struck his right leg just under the knee. While convalescing from one of the interventions he endured, which left him lame for life, to distract himself he asked for books on chivalry, but there weren’t any, and he was offered the life of Christ and a calendar of Saints days. These modified his existential perspective. “I imagined that I should compete with certain Saints in fasting, with others in patience, and with still others in pilgrimages.” These were the feats of Christ’s courageous followers, which were not at all what the fierce soldier knew. He was drawn by them and converted. He repented of his past and decided to live with evangelical radicalism to which he felt called.