Cloud of Witnesses

St. Ignatius of Loyola: Soldier Saint (part 1)

+ 7/31 St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us! +

St. Ignatius is one of my favorite Saints. Ever since I saw this old b/w movie on the life of this great man, I’ve been inspired by him.

Íñigo de Loyola was born into a noble family in the Basque region of Spain. He served at royal court and later became a soldier and a captain. He was very vain. He loved to read books about chivalry and to impress all the pretty Spanish ladies. Honor and glory were his main goals in life.

In a battle against the French, Inigo’s leg—as well as his dreams—were shattered by a cannonball. They were so taken by his courage that the French soldiers carried him home to the Loyola castle (where his brother’s family lived) to recuperate. His leg set wrong (didn’t look good) so it had to be broken and reset–without anesthesia! He grew very sick with a fever but it left him on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

As he recuperated, Inigo got real bored so he asked for some books with stories of chivalry. There was only a Life of Christ and book of the lives of the Saints. He was bored so he read them. The more he read, the more he was inspired by examples of heroism of a higher kind. It was the beginning of his conversion.

As Inigo continued to read, he imagined rivaling and outdoing the deeds of the Saints. But every now and then his mind would turn to thoughts derived from his former reading material and way of life. Inigo realized that these thoughts left him dry and empty whereas the thoughts derived from the Lives of the Saints gave him peace and joy. He had come to discern between the spirit of the world and Spirit of God.

Inigo sought to be a knight, to fight for the heart of some noble woman and serve under a great king. All these aspirations now began to be transformed and translated onto the supernatural level. Gazing upon an apparition of the Blessed Virgin with the Child Jesus, he was filled with a great love for heavenly things and a loathing of his sins and the spirit of the world. Once fully recovered and converted, he went as a pilgrim to the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat were he made a vow of his chastity to Her. After making a good general Confession, he prayed all night before Our Lady’s altar, laid down his sword and became a soldier for Christ.

(To be continued)

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