Saint Ignatius of Loyola was born in Spain of a noble family. He read the lives of many of the heroes of his time and, being a hopeless romantic, dreamed of becoming a great warrior and hero himself. He became a soldier and fought in many battles, but in 1521, in the Battle of Pamplona, he was struck by a cannon ball, which shattered his leg. He had to undergo surgery and a long recovery period. His fighting days were over.
During his recovery, Ignatius came across a book of the Lives of the Saints and read it avidly. Here, he who could no longer hope for the life of a hero on the battlefield, had a vision of spiritual battle, of becoming holy, and of leading others to holiness. He would become a warrior for Christ.
Ignatius and a few other men began the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), a religious order that fought against the heresies of the day, and went on missions to Asia and South America. He became known as a very talented spiritual director and wrote The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, which has become perhaps the most important basis for retreats within the Jesuit order and elsewhere.
On Friday, July 31, we celebrate the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.