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Thursday, October 8, 2020

A Suffering Superhero: St Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola 1490-1556

I'm working on the quarterly Les Femmes newsletter and, as so often happens, my research draws me straight to the saints. Since the lead article is on suffering, I decided to look at some of the suffering saints and found myself with one of my favorites, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius experienced a profound conversion on a bed of pain. Wounded at the Battle of Pamplona, he was recovering at his parents' castle attended by his brother's wife, Magdalena, as nurse. Ignatius wanted novels of chivalry to pass the time, but the only books available were a life of Christ and the lives of the saints. 

We all know what happened next. His zeal for the vanities of the world dissolved, transformed into zeal for Christ. The result? Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus and developed the Spiritual Exercises. The Jesuits, problematic today, nevertheless deserve our gratitude giving us so many saints, among them great missionaries like St. Francis Xavier, St. Isaac Jogues, and St. Peter Claver as well  as doctors of the Church and great teachers like St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Peter Canisius, and St. Claude de Colombiere, spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and so many other devotions can be traced back to St. Ignatius and his incredible influence on God's Church.

In doing my research, I stumbled on a delightful article which led me to a 2016 film about St. Ignatius that I want to see. It looks like an inspiring movie, especially for boys who need real-life super heroes as role models! St. Ignatius certainly fills the bill. He was brave, zealous, and resourceful and, as the article points out, he had a cool sword. I'm ordering the movie and look forward to watching it with my grandchildren.