Ignatius of Loyola

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contemporary portrait of Ignatius of Loyola
Signature Ignatius von Loyola.PNG

Ignatius of Loyola ( Spanish Íñigo López de Loyola ; * 31 May 1491 at Castle Loyola in Azpeitia , Navarra , today Basque Country , Spain ; † 31 July 1556 in Rome ) is the most important co-founder and designer was the later as Jesuit Order called "Society Jesu “( Latin Societas Jesu , SJ). Ignatius of Loyola was canonized in 1622 .

Live and act

He himself describes the stations in the life of Ignatius von Loyola in the so-called Pilgrim's Report , a spiritual autobiography in which he describes the path that God led him:

López de Loyola came from a Basque noble family from what was then the Kingdom of Navarre . He was the youngest son of Don Beltrán Yáñez de Oñez y Loyola and his wife Marina Sáez de Licona y Balda. It was to be her last child, after twelve previously born siblings. Because his mother died shortly after his birth and so Íñigo López was raised by María de Garín, the wife of a blacksmith. With the death of his father on October 23, 1507, he became an orphan . Up to this point he served as a page of the nobleman Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar (around 1460-1517) in Arévalo . When his employer died on August 12, 1517, López de Loyola joined the military and served under the Duke of Nájera and Viceroy of Navarre , Antonio Manrique de Lara ( House Lara ).

Ignatius of Loyola as a young officer in contemporary armor

On May 20, 1521 while defending Pamplona against French troops ( Italian wars ) Loyola was seriously injured by a cannonball in the leg. As he reports in his autobiography, instead of reading his favorite chivalric romances on the sick bed, he read a collection of legends of saints and a description of Christ's life and therefore came to reflect on his way of life. During his convalescence in the Montserrat monastery , he made his life confession, which, according to tradition, lasted three days. In 1522, who had come as a knight and nobleman, he left the monastery as a beggar and pilgrim. He left his weapons on the altar of the monastery church.

There followed about a year as a penitent in Manresa - during this time his great inner experiences fall, which he wrote down in his retreat book . In the Catalan city, nestled between the Cardener and Llobregat rivers , he spent a few months in solitude, during which he exposed himself to extreme poverty and continually deepened in prayer. In a cave on the Cardener he had an enlightenment that shaped him in a spiritual sense for his whole life.

Manresa , chapel in the cave of St. Ignatius. Here he practiced his retreat

At the end of his time in Manresa, Ignatius became a pilgrim who brought it to Jerusalem and through many other stations to Rome . Ignatius von Loyola embarked for this on March 20, 1523 in Italy and reached Palestine in September of the same year , which had been occupied by the Ottoman Turks since 1516 . This trip also appears in the pilgrimage report by the Zurich resident Peter Füssli , who reached the holy land in the same ship as he and described the discreet group of Spanish fellow travelers.

Ignatius of Loyola

From 1524 López de Loyola got so much education at a Latin school ( Trivium ) in Barcelona that he was admitted to study two years later. In that year he began to study philosophy and theology at the University of Alcalá de Henares . Because of his views, the Inquisition soon noticed him . After “serious questioning”, López de Loyola was imprisoned there for eight weeks. In 1527 he moved to the University of Salamanca , but there, too, he was spied on by the Inquisition, interrogated and finally excluded from theological studies.

Facade of the historic University of Alcalá de Henares (1543)

In June 1528 he therefore fled to France . At the Sorbonne he studied with financial support from Spanish merchants in France and Flanders and finished his studies on March 15, 1534 with the title of a Magister artium . He did not finish a subsequent study of theology that he took up again.

Ignatius von Loyola made friends with these six fellow students while still studying in Paris: Peter Faber (1506–1546), Franz Xaver (1506–1552), Simão Rodrigues de Azevedo (1510–1579), Diego Laínez (1512–1565), Alfonso Salmerón (1515–1585) and Nicolás Bobadilla (1511–1590). On August 15, 1534 ( Assumption of Mary ) the seven men vowed poverty, chastity and mission in Palestine in the St. Denis chapel on Montmartre . The common vow at Montmartre is considered to be the nucleus of the community that from 1539 called itself Compañía de Jesús.

On June 24, 1537 López de Loyola was ordained a priest together with Diego Laínez in Venice , where he had stayed from 1535 to travel to Jerusalem. Because of the uncertain political situation, a missionary trip to the Holy Land was out of the question. Therefore they replaced the promised proselytizing of the Holy Land with the willingness to enter the service of the Pope and especially to proselytize in the areas that the Catholic Church had lost through the Reformation . Shortly afterwards Ignatius and his friends went to Rome and presented their intentions to the Pope. Pope Paul III took note of their Formula Instituti and three years later approved the Societas Jesu with the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae of September 27, 1540 . This provisional permission was tied to the condition that the order could not exceed the number of 60 members. In 1541 Ignatius was appointed the first general of the order .

The journeys of Ignatius of Loyola at different times

The new group caused quite a stir because they refused to wear their own costume. In addition, its tight hierarchy was based on military ranks. The rules of the order also deviated from the usual ones and were based on military disciplinary regulations. At the same time, Loyola and his followers were open to new forms of preaching in order to meet their ambitious mission goals. The order quickly became an important bearer of the Counter Reformation . In 1546, Loyola officially dropped the original community limit of 60 members, which led to rapid growth, particularly in Spain. Three years later, a papal bull made the divisions of the Societas Jesu independent of the respective bishops in their areas of operation - a fact that contributed to centralized management in the order as in the general Church.

In the summer of 1556 López de Loyola fell seriously ill with fever and a chronic illness. On July 30, 1556 he asked for the Last Unction and the papal blessing. Ignatius of Loyola died at dawn the following day at the age of 65. His final resting place is officially in Il Gesù in Rome, the church of the mother house of his order. Historians doubt whether the body of Ignatius has really been preserved and can be found in Rome. The Jesuit order already had 1,000 members at his death.


Ignatius was beatified on July 27, 1609 by Pope Paul V and on May 22, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. canonized. His feast day in the Catholic and Anglican Churches is the day of his death, July 31. The peasant rule for this day was: “The way Ignaz appears, next January will be.” His birthplace formed the nucleus for the expansion of the Jesuit college Loyola with a central basilica in the 17th to 19th centuries.

With the Apostolic Constitution Summorum Pontificum of July 25, 1922, Pope Pius XI. the saint as the patron saint of the Spiritual Exercises .

In 1949 the feature film El capitán de Loyola (director: José Díaz Morales ) with Rafael Durán in the leading role was made in Spain . In 2016, the Filipino and Spanish co-production Ignacio de Loyola (directors: Paolo Dy , Cathy Azanza ) with Andreas Muñoz in the lead role.

In 2011, the Ignatius Way was created in Spain as a pilgrimage route from Loyola to Manresa .

A plant genus Ignatia L. f. from the family of the nugget plants (Loganiaceae) is named after him.

Family heraldry and genealogy

The family coat of arms of the Oñaz-Loyola

The name Loyola is a contraction of the Spanish words "Lobo y Olla", which translated into German mean "wolf and pot"; the wolf is supposed to symbolize nobility . Both aspects of the coat of arms are the result of a marriage of two noble families in 1261, the marriage of López García de Oñaz and Inés, Lady of Loyola (~ 1261).

See also


  • Correspondence with women , edited by Hugo Rahner , 1956.
  • The spiritual diary , edited by Adolf Haas u. a., 1961.
  • Consolation u. Instruction. Spiritual letters , edited by Hugo Rahner, new edition, 2nd edition, 1989.
  • The pilgrim's report , translated by Burkhart Schneider, 7th edition, 1991.
  • Letters and instructions , translated by Peter Knauer , 1993, ISBN 3-429-01530-8 .
  • The great rules of the order , published by Hans Urs von Balthasar , 7th edition, 1995.
  • Spiritual exercises , translated by Adolf Haas, new edition, 1999.
  • Letters and instructions (German edition 1) , translated and commented by Peter Knauer, Würzburg, 1993.
  • Founding texts of the Society of Jesus (German edition 2) , translated and commented by Peter Knauer, Würzburg, 1998.


Web links

Commons : Ignatius of Loyola  - album with pictures
Source texts

Individual evidence

  1. He was named after St. Íñigo of Oña , Basque Eneko , Latin Enecus , Ennecus , Innicus or Ignatius and Spanish San Enecón or San Íñigo .
  2. Genealogy of the parents
  3. ^ William Meissner: Ignatius of Loyola: The Psychology of a Saint. Yale University Press, New Haven 1992, ISBN 0-300-06079-3 , p. 9.
  4. San Ignacio de Loyola en la Corte de los Reyes de Castilla. Estudio crítico Fidel Fita Colomé (SI), Fundación Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.
  5. Ignatius von Loyola: The Pilgrim's Report. Freiburg, Herder 1956, p. 44
  6. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names . Extended Edition. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Free University Berlin Berlin 2018. [1]
predecessor Office successor
- Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Diego Laínez