The Basque soldier and nobleman Ignatius of Loyola (Azpeitia, Spain 1491 - Rome, Italy , July 31, 1556) was born as the youngest of thirteen children. At 16, Ignatius is sent to serve as a page to Juan Velazquez, treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. In this setting, Ignatius enjoys everything that living in a Royal Court had to offer: gambling, women and swordplay.

In May 1521, at the age of 30, Ignatius is an officer in the Spanish army sent out to defend the city of Pamplona against the French. The Spanish are horribly outnumbered, but Ignatius convinces his commander to fight on for the honor of Spain. During the battle, a cannonball severely injures one of his legs, and breaks the other leg. The French win the battle. Since they admire the courage of Ignatius, they decide not to imprison him, but to send him back to his castle to recuperate.

Ignatius' leg is set and broken again on purpose to allow for a better setting. A protruding knob of bone is sawn off to allow Ignatius to wear his boots (all without anesthesia of course). His legs would never completely heal.

During his recuperation, Ignatius begins reading about the life of Christ, and turns away from worldly life to take on a spiritual life. This is a long and hard struggle for Ignatius, who was trained as a soldier, but lacking the proper education to live as a priest. In March 1522, he leaves the castle on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem via Barcelona. Still lacking the understanding of Christian principles, Ignatius almost killes a travelling companion, who offends him by claiming that the Virgin Mary was not a virgin in her life after Christ was born.

On his way to Barcelona, Ignatius stops in Manresa, where he truly starts devoting his life to the church. He encountered a vision of God that changes his life for good, and develops his Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius also undertakes many extreme penances, trying to make up for his past life. From Barcelona, Ignatius moves on to Rome. In Rome, Pope Adrian VI tells Ignatius that he can not make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, because it is too dangerous (the Turks are ruling Jerusalem).

Ignatius is now determined to study for the priesthood. The now 33 year old Ignatius returns to school in Barcelona, along with young children. After two years, he moves to the University of Alcala, but soon his zeal gets him into trouble with the Spanish Inquisition. He moves to the University of Salamanca where he encounters the same difficulties. To avoid further problems with the inquisition, Ignatius decides to move to Paris for further studies.

In Paris, he meets many important companions, Francis Xavier, Peter Faber and James Lainez. The latter two decide to join him on a trip to Rome to again request a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but this remains an impossible quest. In 1539, Ignatius asks all his companions to join him in Rome, to place themselves at the disposal of the Holy Father, to travel wherever the church needs their duties. Approval of this new Order is given by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540 and it becomes known as the Society of Jesus (Societatis Jesu). This will lead to the formation of many Jesuit schools and universities all around the world.

On July 31, Ignatius dies due to complications with his stomach (possibly caused by the many severe penances he endured.) Ignatius of Loyola is beatified on July 27, 1609, canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622 (together with St. Francis Xavier.)

Motto of the Society of Jesus:

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To The Greater Glory of God)

The shield of Loyola:
The shield of the House of St. Ignatius of Loyola is divided vertically into two. The left side contains seven red bars on a gold background, symbolizing the House of Onaz, the paternal family of St. Ignatius. The right side contains two wolves around a kettle that is suspended by pothooks. This emblem symbolizes the name Loyola, which is a contraction of the Spanish words lobos (wolves) and olla (kettle); Lobos y Olla. The wolves and kettle symbolize the nobility of the family, and their generosity. After all the family and workers were fed, there would always be enough food left, even to feed the wild animals.

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