Who was St. Ignatius of Loyola?
July 31st, marks the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Patron Saint of Jesuits.
He is mostly known for developing the Spiritual Exercises that Jesuits still follow to this day. But the Spanish theologian didn't always want to be a priest...
It all started after he was wounded in war against the French. As he recovered, he read two books: One was A life of Christ and the other, a book on the Life of Saints. ; He was moved and inspired, and so his spiritual conversion began.
In 1534, he along with six young men, ;including Francis Xavier, professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The Society of Jesus, was officially approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III. It's members became involved in evangelization missions, education, culture and social justice.
Generations passed and difficult times followed. The Order was suppressed in 1773 under orders of the Pope. But it was restored by the Vatican 41 years later in 1814.
With roughly 17,000 Jesuit priests and brothers worldwide, the Jesuits are the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church. It's most popular member is of course Pope Francis.
It's an Order that started more than 400 years ago by St. Ignatius of Loyola... a young Spaniard who started reading about Jesus and Catholic Saints.