St. Ignatius Loyola was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man Ignatius Loyola was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds.
But in 1521 Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, Ignatius Loyola experienced a conversion. Reading the lives of Jesus and the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused desires to do great things. Ignatius realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him.
Over the years, Ignatius became expert in the art of spiritual direction. He collected his insights, prayers, and suggestions in his book the Spiritual Exercises, one of the most influential books on the spiritual life ever written. With a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Ignatius conceived the Jesuits as “contemplatives in action.” This also describes the many Christians who have been touched by Ignatian spirituality.
A short biography by Norman O’Neal, SJ.
By Fr. Mark Link, SJ
Nine brief meditations introducing the story of Ignatius.
Three Holy Jesuits (PDF)
David L. Fleming, SJ, explores the unique qualities of Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Peter Faber.
Who Was St. Ignatius? (video)
A short video introduction to the life of St. Ignatius Loyola, produced by Marquette University.
A brief, well-written biography of Ignatius, in 11 parts.
By Amy Welborn
This story of Ignatius is written for children to understand.
At 97 minutes and with a very dark visual palette, this adaptation of Michael Bellafiore, SJ’s one-man presentation on Ignatius is not for the faint of heart. The content, while didactic, is accurate and this is obviously a heart-felt tribute to St. Ignatius.
An extract from a video about Ignatius Loyola from Loyola Productions’ “Jesuits On…” series. Features a commentary by Richard Leonard, SJ.
An outline of the life of Ignatius, organized around important dates in his life. A rough translation from German.
Video introduction to St. Ignatius Loyola, produced by the Apostleship of Prayer for his feast day.
By Edward W. Schmidt, SJ
Schmidt describes Ignatius’ extraordinary experience at the chapel of La Storta.
By John Hungerford Pollen
A balanced and popular account of Ignatius’s life and conversion. Discusses the early years of the Society of Jesus and its contribution to world missions and the Council of Trent. Gives important highlights of the Constitutions. Book available online in several formats.
Ignatius’s letters are renowned for their insight and wisdom. Here are 50 of them.
Stephanie Russell, Executive Director of Marquette University’s Office of Mission and Identity, discusses the challenges faced by students today and how a Jesuit education can help.
By John W. O’Malley, SJ
Ignatius Loyola was unique among saints with his “worldly” qualities.
By Ron Darwen, SJ
The different images of Ignatius through the ages: soldier, man of action, and mystic.
Brian Grogan, SJ, talks about St. Ignatius and the appeal of Ignatian spirituality in an interview for Vatican Radio. The full interview is about 13 minutes long, with the first two minutes being an introduction.
By Pat Carter
Past president of CLC-USA reviews Ignatius’s life and teaching as the foundation for lay spirituality. She notes that Ignatius guided others in the Spiritual Exercises first as a lay person. Especially helpful are her comments on Ignatius’ “Rules for Thinking with the Church,” which would better be translated as “Guidelines.” As guidelines they are a way of felt knowledge, a knowing with the heart, and a way of ongoing discernment.
By Brian O’Leary, SJ
A survey of the development of Ignatius’s spiritual journey of growth in discerning God’s will for himself and how he could share those insights with others. The article discusses Cano’s critique of the relationship between contemplation and action in the Exercises. The author also notes Ignatius’s reticence in speaking of his personal mystical experiences in his later years.
By Simon Decloux
Ignatius’s practice of accompanying others on their journey with God was based on his experience of how God first taught and guided him. Ignatius shared his interior readiness and openness to God every day and more specifically at those stages of his journey in which he let go of his personal desires to follow the direction in which God was leading him. As a spiritual companion he helped others to recognize how God was leading them in a similar way.
By Fr. John Padberg, SJ
Ignatius does not show a comprehensive use of the Scriptures in his writings. However, Padberg shows how Ignatius found in the Scriptures he read the compelling drama of God’s continuing creation and God’s undying love, fully shown in Christ.
An icon of “Ignatius and the Stars” by Fr. William McNichols is paired with the poem “San Ignacio de Loyola” by Fr. James Janda.
By Brian Purfield
A comparison of the spiritual journeys of Francis of Assisi, as seen in the biography written by St. Bonaventure, and the journey of Ignatius, as outlined in the Spiritual Exercises.
By Segundo Galilea
Ignatian mysticism is oriented to apostolic service, while John of the Cross’s mysticism is oriented to communion with God and neighbor through faith, hope, and love. Both teach a discernment of spirits that permits the soul to adopt attitudes and decisions that lead toward a greater surrender to God through love. Both recognize the need to let go of disordered attachments and to seek competent counsel when discerning the direction of one’s spiritual life.
By Jaime Emilio Gonzalez Magana, SJ
Shows how Ignatius was able to develop a leadership style integrated with the reality of this world, while always keeping his focus on discerning to find, feel, and do God’s will.
By Paul Coutinho, SJ
Explores Ignatius’s experience of the Divine as the heart of his life. It is this experience that he seeks to share through the Spiritual Exercises. Coutinho compares Ignatius’s insights with central teachings from Eastern religions and shows how these teachings also seek to lead the believer into a deep experience of the Divine.
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