Íñigo López de Loyola was born in Azpeitia, Basque Spain on October 23, 1491, the thirteenth child of Beltrán Yañez de Loyola, a descendant of a noble and ancient family and Marina Sánchez de Licona, herself of nobel and ancient heritage. Soon after Inigo’s birth she died and the child was sent to live with Maria de Garin, the young wife of the local blacksmith. Atseven years of age he returned to Loyola castle where he lived until his father died in 1507 when Inigo was sixteen years old.
Shortly after, he was sent to Arévalo to join the household of Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, majordomo of Queen Isabella and treasurer general of Castile. For the next ten years young Iñigo was exposed to life at court. He was groomed to be a knight in the service to the Crown. Iñigo was drawn into the literature of Spanish Renaissance, with its tales of amorous intrigue and ideals of chilvary and courtly love. With Valázquez’s death, Iñigo’s world fell apart. Valázquez’s widow provided him with five hundred escudos and two horses, and advised him to seek out the Duke of Nájera. Thus Iñigo’s military carreer began and ended when at the Battle of Pamplona, his knee, ego and dreams of a great military carreer were shattered. Iñigo was twenty-six years of age.
The French returned the fallen soldier to Loyola Castle and there God began the great work of conversion in his heart, mind and soul. Thus the beginning of his spiritual formation that lead him to the Abbey of Monserrat and beyond. Dedicated to the care of souls, Iñigo shared the wisdom of his experience with those who hungered for a deeper realtionship with God. Three times the Spanish Inquisition examined his spiritual orthodoxy and found no error. Counseled to acquire a theological education, Iñigo attened the Universities of Barcelona, Alcalá and Salamanca, finally completing a theological degree from the University of Paris. Here Master Ignatius of Loyola attracted Francis Xavier and Peter Favre, men of noble character and generous spirit. Together they began the Compañeros de Jesús, or the Society of Jesus.
After lengthy and careful discernment the new band of brothers finally agreed on May 3, 1539 that they would take a vow of obedience to the Pope, place themselves under a religious superior and travel anywhere in the world the Pope sent them. Their mission would be to teach the Commandments and Christian doctrine, and that they should have a special mission to teach catechism to children, and that each man’s work should be left to the superior. This constituted the essence of the “Formula of the Institue,” the foundation of the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.
Ignatius served as Superior General from April 9, 1541 until his death on July 31, 1556. In those fifteen years Ignatius the General goverend the Society from Rome where he wrote the Constitutions, directed the Society and most importantly to McQuaid Jesuit, the Ratio Studiorum, Ignatius’ Official Plan for Jesuit Education which inspires and governs the unique essence and style of Jesuit education. The work of the Society grew by leaps and bounds, establishing missionary beachheads and colleges in all parts of the globe, dealing with the papal court, kings, bishops and nobility of all ranks, and with Christians from all walks of life. While absorbed in the demands and details of governance, Ignatius never lost touch with his reason for living, his life with God.
For almost twenty-five years Ignatius wrote, edited and revised the Spiritual Exercises, his great spiritual legacy to the Church. The Spiritual Exercises are the bedrock for forming an Ignatian Identity for our Mission of Educational Excellence for the adult community at McQuaid Jesuit. Following in the footsteps of Ignatius we seek transformation of mind, heart and soul to reflect more completley the glory of God in our identity and mission.