Biography of San Ignacio de Loyola (ca. 1491-1556)

Monastery of Loyola. Azpeitia.

Spanish religious, founder of the society of Jesus, born at Loyola (Azpeitia) towards 1491 (probably December 25) and died July 31, 1556 at Rome. He/She was baptized as Íñigo López de Regalde.


Iñigo López was the last of eight sons of Beltran Ibanez de Oñaz, Lord Loyola, and Marina Sánchez de Licona. Between 1507 and 1517 he/she was mayor Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar timer service, and then passed into the service of the viceroy of Navarra, Antonio Manrique de Lara, duque de Nájera. He/She took part in the defense of Pamplona in 1521, when it was attacked by the French army, where he/she was wounded in the legs.

He was transferred from Loyola home for your recovery. During his convalescence, he/she asked to leave you some book, and was handed over the life of Christ of the Carthusian Ludolph of Saxony and the Flos sanctorum of Jacobo de Varazze. Reading these books caused in his mind the beginning of the conversion of the man's arms to the religious, and wanted to start a new life, pilgrimage to Jerusalem and imitate the Saints.

It left Loyola in February 1522, and road to Montserrat made vow of chastity. At Manresa, it began to write the spiritual exercises, and on March 20, 1523 embarked on Barcelona to go to Rome and permission from the Pope to pilgrimage to the Holy land. He/She came to Jerusalem (via Venice) on 4 September, but there not allowed him to stay.

He returned to Venice in mid-January, 1524, and then went on to Barcelona, where he/she remained two years to study latin, when already had 33 years of age. He/She went to the University of Alcalá to study philosophy, between March of 1526 and June 1527, and in it he/she was accused by suspected alumbradismo, imprisoned for forty-two days and private permission to preach to comply, at least three years of study.

He decided to go to the University of Salamanca, but there also aroused suspicion among the Dominicans of San Esteban, and jailed again for their tendency to erasmizante (see erasmismo). They sentenced him to not be able to preach until failing to four years of study. Since it was not possible to make disciples, he/she decided to go to Paris to study and gain companions that follow the same ideal of apostolate.

He arrived in Paris on February 2, 1528, and repeated courses of Humanities in the College of Monteagudo. To pay for their studies it requested economic aid Spanish merchants in Bruges, Antwerp and London. In the French capital he/she gave his spiritual exercises to three students who changed their lives. He/She was accused before the Inquisitor Mateo Ory, but it found no fault. He/She also studied philosophy in the school of Santa Barbara, where he/she had for companions to the Savoyard Pedro Fabro and Navarro Francisco Javier, who ended up following his doctrine. He/She also won the friendship of Alfonso Salmerón, Diego Laínez, Simón Rodríguez and Nicolás Alfonso de Bobadilla. He/She obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1532, 1533 Bachelor and master in 1535. He/She began to study theology, then but only for a year and a half.

Iñigo was of small stature, with a round face, and young was blond and with long hair. His contemporaries describe him as a man serene, emotional and lively, with a tendency to cry for their feelings. To its around a group of colleagues who would be the founders of the society of Jesus, refendada with the votes, held August 15, 1534, poverty in Montmartre was formed. They decided to journey to Jerusalem, but if in a year this was impossible, they would come to the Pope to put at your service.

Iñigo returned to Spain, he/she went by Azpeitia, Obanos (Navarra), Almazán (Soria), Sigüenza, Madrid, Toledo, Segorbe and Valencia, where he/she embarked for Italy. He/She spent all year from 1536 in Venice to continue their studies and wait for their comrades, who arrived early in 1537, but that year did not start any ship to Jerusalem by the Ottoman danger. Iñigo then renamed by from Ignacio, closest to the Latin name. Ignacio was accused again by the ecclesiastical authorities, but was acquitted after a trial.

Gathered all the companions, went to Rome to meet with the vote to be made available of the Pontiff. Close to Rome Ignacio had a vision of the Trinity that will impact on the Foundation of the company, as it became clear that the Group of friends would be the "companions of Jesus". In Rome he/she was accused by the Inquisition, and following a process in which Rome agreed all who accused you in Alcala, Salamanca, Paris and Venice, he/she was found not guilty of November 18, 1538.

Ignacio conceived so vague what would become the society of Jesus first in Manresa (illustration of the Cardoner, 1522), outlined some features in Paris (Montmartre votes, 1534), and definitively, established the Congregation of clerics regular with special vow of obedience to the Pope in Rome in 1539. The companions decided to choose a top, forming a religious order. Ignacio wrote the Formula of the Institute of the Jesuit, which was approved by Paul III 3 September 1539, but with the limitation that the number of professed members not passed sixty, with the bull's approval Regimini militantis Ecclesiae, September 27, 1540. On April 19, 1541 he/she was elected general of the new order. Of the nine companions of the founder that appear in the bull, four were Spaniards: Diego Laínez soriano, Francisco Javier, the toledano Salmerón Alfonso navarro and Palencia Nicolás Alfonso de Bobadilla. The Foundation was a collective enterprise, while Ignacio was admitted as the head, largely because he/she inspired security and for its kindly nature, making adherents to grow to its around.

Ignacio spent almost the rest of his life in Rome. He/She had many solidarity initiatives with the poor, sick, prostitutes, converted from Judaism, orphans, etc. Despite his bad experience with the Inquisition, he/she was supporter of its introduction in Rome to stop Protestantism. He/She founded the Collegio Romano and the Germanic College and drafted constitutions, model for other orders and foundations.

These religious (clerics regular) began to be called "iniguistas" Paris, and then in France and Italy with the nickname of "reformed priests", while in Rome and Spain we confused them with the "theatines", and in Portugal and India were called "Apostles". They began to be called "Jesuits" in Leuven in tone of mockery, although that name was then propagated by Cologne and Vienna between 1544 and 1551. In a few years the nickname was extended by France and Germany.

Ignacio gave the company an orientation clearly missionary; Thus, the order spread across Brazil, far East and Ethiopia; they founded schools in Portugal, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bohemia, Spain, France, Italy; and there were missionaries in Malacca, Moluccas, Hormuz and a total of eleven Asian provinces. On the death of Ignacio company had a few thousand members, twelve provinces, houses a hundred and forty-six schools in Europe.

The primary aim of the company was the defense and propagation of the faith. Three of the first Jesuits were destined for Germany (Fabro, Jayo and Bobadilla), which preached, gave exercises and participated in theological disputes with Protestants. Fabro attracted the order of Pedro Canisio, which was considered the Apostle of Germany. Ignacio strategy against the Protestants can be followed through seven instructions directed to the Jesuits, and with certain limitations came to suggest the death penalty and the confiscation of their property, although he/she was not a supporter of the Inquisition in Germany. Ireland and Scotland were as nuncios Alfonso Salmeron and Pascasio Broet, but obtained little success. Ignacio wanted to personally work in missions, both in North Africa and in Ethiopia, and closely followed the missionary activity of Francisco Javier.

During the fifteen years of Government as general marked a new style with the rest of orders. The Jesuits had own habit, no choir, or impositions imposed by rule and time of prayer, no possibility of receiving dignities civil or ecclesiastical, so they are available for any apostolic mission. It did not admit a female order branch, although there were some women who made the vows, as Princess Joan of Austria, daughter of Carlos V. The maxim of Ignacio was to do it all for the greater glory of God by all means at its disposal. It gave great importance to obedience by being an instrument of cohesion and Apostolic effectiveness.

The novitiate lasted two years, out of which were pronounced the simple vows; There were spiritual coadjutors (priests) and temporary, are taught extended studies, a third year of probation after finishing studies, a solemn profession, and a fourth vow of obedience to the Pope that made the professed respect to the missions. Another novelty was that the general manager was for life.

In life of Ignacio, they began taking notes and notes on the life of the company founder (carried out by Lainez, Polanco, Ribadeneira, Oliverio Manareo) among which deserves special mention the father Luis González de Cámara, who had gone to Rome with Commission of Juan III of Portugal to closely observe the behavior of Ignacio, and to take careful note of everything. Ignacio not unknown camera mission, and why not the persistent interest to know life and miracles of the founder surprised him. In fact, came to an agreement: Ignacio consented you to take note of all his words. Result of these notes was the autobiography. His spiritual journal, difficult to read because they are not intended for the public, reveals a mystic that he/she received gifts and charismas supernatural. Although Ignacio underwent special divine communications, it was contemplative in action. His health was always delicate (suffered from biliary lithiasis, with reflexes that had an impact on his stomach). He/She died in the early hours of July 31, 1556. His body was buried in the small church of Santa María de la Strada, in the current altar of the Church of the Gesù.

The death of Ignacio followed two years of crisis within the company, until the start of the first general congregation. He/She had to produce a reconciliation among some of the first companions of Ignatius, especially of Bobadilla, accusing Nadal and Polanco have changed the style of Government. The Pope Paulo IV was very critical of the company, whenever that Ignacio was friend of Morone and Carranza, suspected of heresy, but freed after suspicion. Everything was surpassed with Diego Laínez as second general election and the approval of the constitutions, published and disseminated in 1560.


Ignatius was beatified on 27 July 1609 and canonized March 12, 1622, together with Francisco Javier, Teresa of Jesus, Felipe Neri , and Isidore the farmer. The image of Ignacio has distorted throughout history both by those who have tried a golden legend as those who have been carried away by the black legend, by those who live in the glorious exaltation of friends as by the critical false of adversaries and enemies. The Baroque examples is where it has believed that it began to blur the image of Ignacio, every time that the Baroque intended, in his Catholic claim, exalting the heroic and extraordinary. Reflection of this appears in literature and art in their different fields, such as architecture, sculpture, painting, theatre and music. The festivals held in that year and on the occasion of the first Centenary (in 1640) assumed a triumphalism unwanted by father general Mucio Vitelleschi (1615-1645).


The spiritual exercises of Ignatius orient the spirituality of the company. Exercises includes many ways to pray, but the common trait that characterizes them is the relationship between prayer and realization of the will of God in action, and its reference to Christ as principle of discernment. In this sense, the words of Ignatius have fullness "in all love and serve", because the Jesuit activity is service oriented divine by love, to fulfill the will of God dedicated entirely to help men achieve sainthood which are called. It is a missionary spirituality, Envoy, Apostolic.

The characteristic elements of the Formula of the Institute, based on the constitutions approved by Paul III are:

1st. Purposes and descriptions of the apostolic life of the jesus.2ª company. Fourth vow of the professed and missions ordered by the papa.3ª. The relationship between the upper and the subditos.4ª. Poverty of the compania5ª. Peculiarity of their life in common.

Black legend

The figure of Ignacio (and with the entire society of Jesus) has been disfigured by historians, ridiculed by fantastic legends, in some cases misrepresenting historical truth. Since the end of the 19th century the own order he/she had intended to publish everything related to the history of the company, and indeed the historical dictionary of the society of Jesus has analyzed in detail attacks and the reasons, motivated largely by the exact ignorance of the circumstances.

The first criticism that Ignacio had came from nearby witnesses who had seen the vicissitudes that went with the ecclesiastical authorities. Agustín Mainardi (OSA) in 1538 he/she repeated that Ignacio was heretic, that he/she had been sentenced again in Spain, France and Italy, who came fleeing the inquisitorial bonfires and planted everywhere their mistakes and perversities. Father Bobadilla was critical with Ignacio by his way of governing. Guillermo Postel, French scholar who was Jesuit for some years, was meant to in recent months from 1552 to write the life of Ignacio de Loyola with some criticisms. The memorialists, which began with the father Dionisio Vázquez, confessor of Francisco de Borja, wanted a "remedy or reformation of three things that exist in the company": inequality between States with three and four votes (instrumental, temporal and spiritual; and professed,); the choice of provincials and rectors (the general unaware them); and the fact of not fire anyone if it is not a vote of the House. The reformer Teodoro Beza ranked it among the "fearsome monsters". The harshest attacks came from Dominican Melchor Cano, but there are also criticisms of Tomás de Villanueva, Carlos Borromeo, Teresa de Jesus and Arias Montano (that Miguel Mir picked up). Within the order we can mention especially to Juan de Mariana, Hernando de Mendoza, José de Acosta, Diego Luis Fajardo and Gutiérrez Hurtado; the latter, however, are critical of the order, not with the figure of Ignacio.

Because after the publication of biographies written by Pedro de Ribadeneira (1572) and J. Pedro Maffei (1586) Ignatian documents were forbidden, the subsequent biographies of the 17TH and 18th centuries will have as sole basis these two official biographies. Who most influenced the historians was Pedro de Ribadeneira, which was highly critical with regard to Ignacio that had not come out of his pen. It is known that he/she was able to withdraw from circulation the few copies that were of the autobiography of Ignacio father camera wrote under his instructions, look like they contained errors, and saw stories the news that father Araoz collected between the monks of Montserrat; It was a scrupulous criticism of the biography written by the Maffei. The first provided new data was Danielo Bartoli in his life published in 1650, although he/she himself says that he/she writes not book "by both history and apology".

Ribadeneira insisted on leave to the posterity an image which in not a little contributed to forge their black legend. By that time had already been consolidated the theatrical tradition of Jesuits in German language, in Cologne, Munich, Prague and Vienna. Back was a political ideologization of the comedies of Saints, taking advantage of the holidays of beatification or canonization. Thus, for example, the case of san Estanislao de Kostka, whose theatrical extolled one Catholic Poland braking to the Turks. And the same can be said of Ignacio de Loyola as antilutero, or even Francisco Javier initiating a new Christendom. Kostka we count between 1615 and 1640 representations in the colleges of Gratz, Burghausen, Freiburg, Vienna and Regensburg. In this context, there were references to an aspect that has been marked in the historiography, Loyola Lutero-Ignacio opposition, as if Ignacio is an antilutero and I was born to counter him, idea sublimated by some biographers, as Ribadeneira, says, in the seventeenth chapter of book II of the life of San Ignacio: "Dios our Lord broke leg father Ignatius in the castle of Pamplona to heal you"", and soldier torn and vain to ask their captain and leader, and defender of the Church against Lutero". However, Ignacio will appoint one time Luther in his correspondence from more than 7,000 letters.

Attacks include accusations that soldier, who was page, was having company name a military sense. All this provoked antipathy added to that already Ignacio had on life as an advocate for the papacy. In some cases provoked rejection of his person, which led to the antijesuitismo, so that all the bad things they saw in each individual in order in general blamed it Ignacio. We can say the same about Pascal with his provincial letters, the Jansenists, the encyclopaedists and, finally, those who managed their extinction.

A biography fair is still to be done, especially with regard to before his arrival in Rome, because you know very little about that period. Early biographers, like Polanco, camera and Ribadeneira, Loyola made a somewhat blurred portrait, which was reflected in the artists. Jacopino del Ponte portrait you will say that Ribadeneira "most seems of some very regalado clergyman and filling or a labrador not of our father". It is curious that so many centuries later the trial of Ribadeneira coincides with another four and another biographer of the Holy picture of Elias de SALAVERRÍA (1893-1940), in the Hall of the Diputación de San Sebastián, which Villoslada said: "it would seem a priest from a Guipuzcoan village, which has been making the spiritual exercises at Loyola and meditative walks through the Orchard"", with the Izarraitz Fund". The Baroque image do not change much from this idea of Ribadeneira, although you can quote the likes of Sánchez Coello, Rubens, Andrea Pozzo, Roelas and Valdés Leal.

The Ignatian biography has gone through three phases: uplifting, critical and anthropological. In the Counter-Reformation he/she is presented as antilutero, during the enlightenment Protestants sharpened the hostility of the historical figures of Catholicism, and in our time will giving the aggressiveness and emphasis on the knowledge of the historical man entirely. The best biography to date is probably the Danielo Bartoli, while sins of credulity to trust processes of beatification and canonization and, therefore, include no fewer than 100 miracles, while Ribadeneira does not collect any. Another good biography is that of Francisco García, life, virtues and miracles of San Ignacio de Loyola, founder of the society of Jesus (Madrid 1722); the author copy of Ribadeneira (1572), Maffei (1585), Orlandini, Nieremberg (life of the glorious San Ignacio de Loyola, Madrid 1631) and Gabriel of Henao (1689). It was both the commitment of the miracles that the biography of Nieremberg had to be included in the index of books forbidden because it gave preference to the wonderful appearance, prophecies, such extraordinary events that are attributed, etc.; In sum, an idealized santo.

Within foreign criticism, the more interesting case is that of Hercules Rasiel of jungle, published in French the Histoire de l´admirable Don Iñigo de Guipúzcoa, chevalier de la Vierge et fondateur of the monarchie des Inighistes (the Hague, 1736-1737); This work was put on the index of 1759, and has that Iñigo was sentenced to fire by the colegio de Santa Bárbara, and makes a parallel between Quixote and Ignacio, like crazy for his independence, in addition to consider the issue of the pilgrimage as spiritual key of the Counter-Reformation. Years later, the famous encyclopédiste Denis Diderot (1713-1784) say Ignacio in 1762 in his article Jesuit who "wrote the exercises when I didn't read".

In modern times there are two fronts: that are pawned to highlight his role as contrarreformista and antiluterano, and which were made to highlight its role within the Catholic Reformation, especially by Jesuits. Among the former are Maurenbrecher, M. Philippson, Gothein, Leopold von Ranke and Bohmer. Between the second can quote Astrain, Tachi-Venturi, Paul Dudon, Leturia, Villoslada, Ravier and Tellechea.



Autobiography, ed. L. Gonçalvez da Câmara, Bilbao 1991. Constitutiones Societatis Iesu, 3 vol. Rome 1934-1938. Spiritual diary, Scripta de san Ignacio. Madrid 1914-1918 Epistolae et instructions, 12 vol. 1903 Rome-1911.Exercitia spiritualia. Rome 1919. Complete works, ed. I. Iparraguirre, Madrid 1997. Regulae Societatis Iesu (1540-1556). Rome 1948.


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