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Thursday, July 31, 2008

On his Feast Day - St. Ignatius of Loyola Servant of the Poor

Although well known for his founding of the “Jesuits,” Ignatius Loyala is also known for his love for the poor. St. Ignatius, was named Inigo de Loyola when he was born in 1491 in Azpeitia in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. After being raised in a powerful family, eventually he found himself at the age of 30 in May of 1521 as an officer defending the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the French.

It was here in this defense he fell ill from a serious leg injury. His leg was set a second time, but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again and reset it, all without anesthesia. Ignatius grew worse and was finally told by the doctors that he should prepare for death.

During the long weeks of his recuperation, he was extremely bored and asked for some romance novels to pass the time. Luckily there were none in the castle of Loyola, but there was a copy of the life of Christ and a book on the saints.

Not long after a miracle healing, he proceeded to the Benedictine shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat, made a general confession, and knelt all night in vigil before Our Lady's altar, following the rites of chivalry. He left his sword and knife at the altar, went out and gave away all his fine clothes to a poor man, and dressed himself in rough clothes with sandals and a staff.

Ignatius, whose love it was to be actively involved in teaching catechism to children, directing adults in the Spiritual Exercises, and working among the poor and in hospitals, would for the most part sacrifice this love for the next fifteen years - until his death - and work out of two small rooms, his bedroom and next to it his office, directing this new society of the Jesuits throughout the world.

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