The legacy of St. Ignatius

This is an oil on canvas portrait of This is an oil on canvas portrait of St. Ignatius of Loyola by Giuseppe Franchi. St. Ignatius is the founder of the Society of Jesus, whose members are known as Jesuits. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Born Inigo de Loyola into a noble family in 1491 in the Basque region of Spain.

Lives a somewhat wild youth, womanizing and gambling.

By 30, he is a soldier defending a fortress in Pamplona against the French. A cannonball wounds one leg and breaks another.

During long weeks of recuperation, he reads about the lives of Christ and the saints, undergoes a conversion and decides to try to imitate the saints.

Not long after, he spends almost a year in a cave in deep prayer, forming ideas that become the basis for the Jesuits'

Spiritual Exercises and the central Ignatian idea of finding God in all things.

He studies for the priesthood, at times begging for food and shelter to survive.

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He and companions take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and in 1540 the Vatican approves the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. Ignatius dies in 1556, is made a saint in 1622.

Members of the order become known as the intellectuals of the Roman Catholic Church and also serve as missionaries in places including China and Latin America. From 1773 to 1814, the Jesuits, in a dispute with the Vatican, are suppressed by Rome.

Over the centuries thousands of men around the globe join as Jesuit priests and brothers. The order goes on to excel at education and founds universities including Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross and Boston College, along with many high schools and middle schools.

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