Ajayi Eberechukwu, student at St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, Idimu, Nigeria, shares an article about Ignatius key places of his life.
AZPEITIA: When we talk about any important figure, one basic question is about his origin or her origin. We usually ask where he/she comes from. As we journey with St. Ignatius of Loyola, it is only logical to ask about his origins. Ignatius was born in Azpeitia in Spain on 23 October 1491 as the youngest of thirteen children. This small city of Azpeitia would eventually give rise to a giant of the spiritual life, faith and education. Perhaps the Ignatian Year affords us the opportunity to reflect on our own origins.
PAMPLONA: This town is at the heart of the Ignatian Year since we are celebrating the event that happened in that town. Pamplona was a Spanish territory. However the French laid a claim to it. This ignited a battle of supremacy between the two countries. Ignatius joined the Spanish forces to fight for the territorial integrity of their motherland. During this battle, the Spanish soldiers were overwhelmed by French forces but Ignatius never retreated. This resulted in a cannon ball shattering his leg on May 20 1521. It was the doggedness and courage of Ignatius that made the French soldiers spare him. If Ignatius had given up because of the unpalatable conditions working against them, perhaps, you might not be reading this article in The Magis magazine of St. Francis Catholic Secondary School – a Jesuit-Run Catholic College. Hence, do not forget these pearls of wisdom: persevere and you will progress.
MONTSERRAT: This was another important place in life of St. Ignatius. As part of his ongoing process of conversion, Ignatius had many spiritual experiences here. It was at Montserrat that he made a general confession of all his sins. In addition, he decided to surrender his sword at the feet of the black Madonna in order to take up the armor of Christ. This gesture is quite deep and symbolic. It is an offering oneself into the hands of God rather than depend on my own strength and abilities.
MANRESA: As a pilgrim doing penance, Ignatius spent about a year in solitude in Manresa. This was where Ignatius grew in prayer and faith. No wonder Manresa is considered the school and home of prayer. Ignatius was faithful in writing down his spiritual encounters here at Manresa. He paid attention to his spirit, noted down what was happening to him interiorly. This led to the birth of Spiritual Exercises. The experience at Manresa is one that makes the Jesuits value the power of silence and reflection –as reflection on experience is the best teacher. This book is one of the most popular spiritual classics of all time. Having spent close to six years at St. Francis as a student, all the various programs and activities we had have being inspired by the book of the Exercises.
PARIS: Ignatius also had some experiences in Paris, France. He arrived in Paris in 1528 and was a student till 1535. Ignatius came to Paris to study because he knew that knowledge is power. During his stay, Ignatius met Peter Faber and Francis Xavier. Along with other students, these became friends in the Lord and were united in heart, mind and purpose. It was here that Ignatius began gathering those who later became the first Jesuits. On 15th August 1534, Ignatius along with the others made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
ROME: Another significant city in the life of St. Ignatius was Rome. After discussions about what they could do as a group, Ignatius with his other companions decided to go offer themselves at the service of the Pope. On 27 September 1540 the Pope gave an approval for the Society of Jesus to be established. Ignatius naturally became the Superior General of Jesuits, an office he held until his death on 31 July 1556.
The life of Ignatius is one every human should emulate. Virtues of perseverance, courage in adversity, generosity, peace, repentance, humility and openness to growth are the ones we should possess. The life of Ignatius is one that encourages us to sacrifice our lives in the service of humanity and for God. His experiences in these cities display a life of gradual transformation fueled by a zeal for the things of God. Like Ignatius, our lives can be transformed if only we yearn for God whose love and grace is enough for us.