Who was St. Ignatius?

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Saint Ignatius Loyola

The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits as we are called, was founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). Ignatius Loyola was the son of a local landowner in Loyola – in the Basque Province of Spain. Ignatius describes himself as a young man ‘given over to the vanities of the world, who took special delight in the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire of winning glory.’    In pursuit of glory he was determined to defend the town of Pamplona in the name of King Ferdinand of Spain. The stubborn Ignatius set out with a handful of men to fight in May 1521. During the battle French cannon fire smashed both his legs. He was carried on a stretcher back to the castle at Loyola where he had his legs reset. As he lay on his sick bed Ignatius began to notice how he had two different sets of dreams – one encouraging him to return to seek glory as a knight; the other to imitate Saints Francis and Dominic and do great things for God. As soon as he regained his health Ignatius left on pilgrimage determined to serve Jesus Christ. As He went along he made notes on what he thought God might be saying to him. These notes became the foundation of what we know today to be The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola. He had a great desire to help others by showing them how God was working with them in their lives. His desires led him to study for the priesthood. He studied in Paris, gaining companions, amongst them, Saint Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre, and united in their common desire to serve the Lord they founded the Society of Jesus.