"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

PART I: Ignatius The 'Pilgrim' Was Born

Battle Of Pamplona: May 20, 1521


How a pilgrim's life came to be is worth everybody's consideration. It has been almost a month since our commemoration of the May 20, 1521 cannonball event in the life of St Ignatius. But we do not stop there. Let us continue to follow his path towards total conversion in the many more months to come. Like any conversion experience of saints and great men and women that we know of, there is death and rebirth. Inigo died to his old self and was reborn. Like any birthday of a human being or organization, the day is a never ending spectacle. A pilgrim was indeed born during the year 1521 because after that Ignatius would then fondly call himself as the "pilgrim."

On May 20, 500 years ago, a 29-year-old Basque knight, named Inigo was brought home to recuperate after he was severely wounded by the onslaught on their fortress by a fired cannon ball. His fellow soldiers were prodding their comrades-in-arms to surrender already as they were outnumbered, but Inigo was unreasonably dodged and stubborn to give up. The six-hour-long fight halted only after his leg was already shattered. The French troops allowed him to be carried back to the Loyola family castle for recovery.

The wounds on his lower limbs led to the first long lockdown in his life, about nine months. During his convalescence, his imaginative mind provided some respite from his pitiable physical condition and most especially from boredom or even depression. He preoccupied his mind thinking about royal court life and tales of martial valor. He also killed time by day-dreaming about a certain lady who captured his heart. Like food for his drooping spirit, he imagined his own heroic deeds winning for him honor, glory and, not to mention, the great lady's affection. When he could not engross the mind anymore due to boredom, he asked Magdalena, his sister-in-law, for his favorite books—novels about romance and adventure. Unfortunately, at that time, she only had religious books in the house: The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Varagine (a collection of stories about the saints) and The Life of Christ by Ludolph of Saxony. Lo and behold, his attention was captured by the stories of the great saints' exemplary lives. This profoundly moved and attracted him that soon after he had barely recovered he resolved to do something about his many sins. To fulfil this he must embark on a journey towards spiritual awakening, this time as Ignatius (Ignacio), the man who followed the holy austerities of the saints, e.g. Francis of Assisi and Dominic, that God sent as his first spiritual guides.

From May 20, 2021 to July 31, 2022, the whole Church commemorates Ignatian Year with the theme "To see all things new in Christ." I would like to invite each one during the next 14 months to take stock of the converted life of this man that changed and continuous to change the world through his legacies, namely, the universal Society of Jesus that he founded and the Spiritual Exercises that lead many soul-seekers to God. If you would like to know more about his conversion before becoming a man of God watch Bp Robert Barron's feature-length film on The Pivotal Players—St Ignatius of Loyola: The Founder.

In his lifetime, he wrote more than seven thousand letters personally signed and which, to a large extent, have been documented. Read some of his letters and discover how, up until our time, they can very much speak to us relevantly. I have posted a selection of fifty of these letters and instructions in †8thworker website under †Ignatiu500Fr JM Manzano SJ


Comments

  1. Letters reveals about the writer. I was.struck and inspired by St. Ignatius conversion. Looking forward for more letters. Thanks Fr. JM! One with you in this pilgrimage with prayers.
    😇

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    Replies
    1. True indeed! Letters immortalize us and the spirit of St Ignatius lives on and it could become a channel of God's grace too if we connect his story with our own. God bless us!

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