St Ignatius Loyola is the founder of the Jesuit religious order. He began his early life as a soldier full of many earthly dreams of success and adulation. While fighting at the battle of Pamplona in May 1521 he was struck by a cannonball which literally shattered his leg and his dreams for life as a soldier. During his recuperation in the family home in Loyola, he read 2 books that would transform his life – the Life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. He was deeply inspired by the life of Christ and by the heroic efforts of many saints who chose to follow Christ. This was the beginning of his conversion and his own decision to give up all dreams of becoming a soldier and instead to be a soldier for Christ. He spent the rest of his life in service of others and in prayer, deepening his relationship with Christ and bringing others on a similar journey. He wrote the Spiritual Exercises as a method to bring people into a relationship with Christ and to assist people to discern life decisions, just as he had himself.
He founded the Jesuit order in 1540. He died on July 31st, 1556, and was canonized as a saint on 12th March 1622.
Marking the Ignatian Year:
The Jesuit order in Rome declared an Ignatian Year from May 2021 to July 2022 to mark the 500th anniversary of the battle of Pamplona (1521), the so-called ‘cannonball moment’ that changed Ignatius’s life forever, and the 400th anniversary of Ignatius’s canonization in 1622. See Ignatian Year – Jesuits.org
In Jesuit Provinces across the world Jesuit institutions and Colleges have chosen to mark this Ignatian year in their own unique way. In Belvedere College SJ, the Board of Management approved the commissioning of a bench with St Ignatius sitting on it similar to the benches of other well-known figures like Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan on the canal banks in Dublin city. The sculptor and artist for these benches is John Coll, a past pupil of Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, a Jesuit school.
John had already sculpted a bust of St Ignatius for his Alma Mater and he used this as an inspiration for a bench with St Ignatius sitting on it, just like Kavanagh and Behan. The statue is cast in bronze and the bench itself is made of stainless steel. The bench will be a long-lasting legacy for current and future students, staff, and the wider Belvedere family for many years to come.
The statue and bench are being installed in the courtyard of Belvedere College on a raised plinth overlooking the yard where students and staff gather every day, hence it will become an integral part of life in the College. It is envisaged that students sitting next to and around Ignatius will become a signature photo for graduation day as our graduates acknowledge the influence of St Ignatius and his vision for Jesuit education which they will have experienced during their years in Belvedere. Ignatius may well be adorned with a black and white scarf on match days such will be the normality of including Ignatius in all events within College life.
A.M.D.G. (Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam)
A plaque associated with the statue and bench reads the following:
St Ignatius Loyola SJ (1491-1556)
Commissioned by the Board of Management of Belvedere College SJ to celebrate the Ignatian Year 2021-2022,
the 500th anniversary of St Ignatius’ conversion — that fateful day when Ignatius the soldier,
struck by a cannonball, began his transformation into Ignatius the pilgrim.
Our statue and bench depict Ignatius the pilgrim taking a rest on his journey. You are invited to sit with him and rest awhile.
Sculptor: John Coll