St.Ignatius of Loyola
St.Ignatius of Loyola , the founder of the Society Of Jesus, was born in 1491 as the last child of a large Basque family of Spain. The name 'Loyola' came from the ancestral castle that was the family heritage of St.Ignatius. According to the traditions of his family, Ignatius was trained for arms and ettiquette of court life. He enlisted himself in the border wars with France and was badly wounded in battle. As he lay convalescing at Loyola, he read the life of Christ and those saints and was inspiried to follow Christ by giving up all wordly ambitions and trappings of power and by embracing a life of poverty, sacrifice and service after the example of his saintly mentors. He began this new life at the age of 31. He spent a year of severe penance and intense prayer in a solitary cave on the banks of the river Cardoner near the town MANRESA.
He recorded his experiences in a book called “ The Spiritual Exercises” which became the soul and center, the rule and character of every Jesuit who came thereafter. Reflecting on the crisis in the Church of his time, he felt the need of the hour was for leaned and holy priests, free of greed and ambition and ready to serve the poor and bear witness to the love of Christ for all. To achieve this objective, he set himself in right earnest to study from grammar school to college, and university in the various spanish centres of learning and finaly took his Master's Degree from Sorbonne University, Paris. At the same time , he won over a group of brilliant and like minded university men(one of whom was St. Francis Xavier), moulded them by his Spiritual Exercises and welded them into a religious fraternity which became the Society of Jesus. The followers of St. Ignatius popularly became to be known, in the course of time, as Jesuits. 4,045 are working in the 20 provinces of India. In Andhra Pradesh alone, there are about 205 Jesuits working.