Pastor’s Corner for the Solemnity of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Year C, by Rev. Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ

 July 31: Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Today, July 31, is the feast day of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus who passed away on this day in the year 1556. St. Ignatius of Loyola was one of the most influential figures in the Catholic Church. He was the founder and leader of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, and wrote the Spiritual Exercises, a set of meditations and prayers that have guided millions of people, for which he was declared a patron saint of all spiritual retreats. He encouraged each of us to “find God in all things,” and act “for the greater glory of God.” 

1491. Inigo de Loyola was born in Azpeitia in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. He was the youngest of 13 children.

1508. At the age of 16, Inigo left his home to serve as a page for Juan Velazques, treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. He was frequently at court and developed a taste for the material world.

1521. He eventually became an officer in the Spanish army. On May 20, at the battle of Pamplona, his leg was broken by a cannon ball, and he was bedridden for the next year. During his difficult recovery, Inigo asked for books about chivalry, his favourite reading. There weren’t any at the family castle where he recuperated, so he had to settle for a book about the life of Christ and biographies of the saints, topics which he found unexpectedly fascinating.

1522. In March of 1522, Ignatius was well enough to leave home with a newfound zeal to serve God. He came to the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat and kept a vigil all night. He left his sword at the altar and gave his fine clothes to a poor man. He cast aside his life as a noble soldier and dressed in rough clothes and sandals to take up the life of a poor pilgrim. He lived in a cave outside the town of Manresa. Ignatius began writing about the emotions that took hold of him — feelings of gratitude and anguish, consolation, and sadness — while encountering scripture. It was here where he started work on what would become the Spiritual Exercises.

1524. Ignatius felt a calling to the priesthood but did not have the educational requirements. To answer his vocation, he had to go back to school, where he studied Latin grammar alongside children.

1529. Ignatius continued his education at the University of Paris. It was here where he introduced classmates to the Spiritual Exercises. While studying at the University of Paris, Ignatius boarded with two men who would not only join him in forming the Society of Jesus but would also be canonized as saints -Francis Xavier and Peter Faber.

1534. Ignatius and six others (including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber) pronounce vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and form the Society of Jesus.

1540. On September 27, 1540, Pope Paul III made the Society of Jesus an official religious order in the Catholic Church. Its members unanimously elected Ignatius as the first Father General.

1541. For the next 15 years, Ignatius would lead the Society from two small rooms in Rome. It is here where he composed the Constitutions of the Society and wrote many letters to his growing number of brothers in the Society. The initial seven members of the Society would grow to over a thousand. Jesuit schools and churches were founded throughout Europe and Jesuit missionaries travelled as far west as Brazil and as far east as Japan. Despite this new responsibility, Ignatius continued to serve the poor and sick in Rome.

On this feast day, it is befitting that we celebrate and Congratulate Fr. Matsepane Morare SJ who will profess his final vows at 08:30 Mass, here at St Martin de Porres. May God grant him many more blessings. Happy feast to the Ignatian family.

Fr. Nobert Munekani SJ

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