In 2019, Father Arturo Sosa announced the convocation of an Ignatian Year to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Ignatian year will begin on May 20, 2021 (the 500th Anniversary of the day he was injured) and conclude on July 31, 2022 (his Feast Day).
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born in Spain in 1491 and was the youngest of 13 children. As a young man, he was infatuated with the military and a defender of Jesus. During his career in the army, he was gravely injured in the leg at the Battle of Pamplona on May 20, 1521. After undergoing medieval surgeries his leg was saved however was shortened, leaving him with a limp that precluded him from rejoining the army.
During his surgery recovery, St. Ignatius experienced a profound conversion and call to spiritual life. While bedridden he began reading many religious texts – De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony was particularly important in his conversion as it inspired him to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, and other who devoted their lives to God. The text also encouraged him to practice meditation and visualization exercises, that he would later write about in his “Spiritual Exercises”.
Once he recovered, he set out of a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land to connect more deeply to Jesus in the very places where he lived, as many Catholics still do. He is said to have experienced a vision of Mary encouraging him to Pilgrimage. During his Pilgrimage, he shed his material items in various stops in Spain, he relinquished his sword and dagger at the Montserrat Monastery, and lived in Manresa as a beggar for about a year, praying seven hours per day. He arrived in the Holy Land in 1523 and stayed for 20 days before returning to going to Paris and beginning a period of study that lasted seven years.
St. Ignatius of Loyola is most famously known for founding the Jesuit Order in 1539, and becoming a soldier of the Christian faith, spreading the doctrine all over the world. The Jesuits went on the create countless missions, schools, colleges, and seminaries which are still functioning today. He is the Patron Saint of Soldiers with many devoted followers.
Pilgrims now visit Loyola to honor him. On our tours, we visit the 17th century Basilica that is dedicated to this remarkable Saint. The Basilica is part of a series of buildings that surrounds the "Holy House," the birthplace of St. Ignatius. Pilgrims have the opportunity to pray and meditate at the most venerated room, where St. Ignatius prayed and began his conversion. Many groups also are able to celebrate Mass in this Sacred room. He is buried in the Church of Gesu in Rome which is also the mother Church of the Society of Jesuits.