1491 (Loyola, Spain) – 1556 (Rome, Italy)
Saint Ignatius was a great saint, who always wanted to be the best at everything. When he was little, he wanted to be a famous hero and he grew up to be an outstanding knight. Would you like to be a hero too?
One day, during a fierce battle, Saint Ignatius got badly injured. A canon ball hit his legs and broke them so that he had to spend a long time in hospital. There, he immediately asked for some books about knights to be brought to him. But the hospital only had ones about Jesus and the saints. Do you think Saint Ignatius was disappointed? Yes, probably to begin with he wasn’t too happy, but as he read more and more about Jesus and saints like Francis, he understood that they too were great heroes. Soon Ignatius wanted to become one of them and to follow Jesus. Would you like to become a saint?
When Ignatius recovered, he headed to Jerusalem, to be in the city where Jesus lived, and to get closer to Him in that way. Do you know how long it took to get to Jerusalem in those days? Instead of flying for a few hours like today, traveling from Spain to Jerusalem was a great adventure in the 16th century. It took St. Ignatius three months to get there on foot, horseback and ships. What do you think happened when he reached Jerusalem? Do you think he was welcomed with open arms? No! As soon as he arrived, after the long and difficult journey, St. Ignatius not even allowed to enter the city and told to go back to Rome. Do you think he was disappointed? And do you think he gave up? Of course not! Saint Ignatius knew that following Jesus wouldn’t always be easy and he didn’t let difficulties stop him. Can you think of a time when you had to do something difficult to be like Jesus?
Not being allowed to live in Jerusalem didn’t stop Saint Ignatius from being close to Jesus though. He knew that he could follow Jesus by loving people around him, no matter where he was, and he spent his whole life doing so. He loved Jesus so much that he and his friends, who wanted to follow Ignatius’ example, called themselves the Society of Jesus.
Saint Ignatius also had a great idea for how to learn more about Jesus, by imagining what it would have been like to be one of his disciples. And you can try that too! Next time you are at mass, or when you read the Gospel at home, try to really imagine what it was like to be there. Try to imagine how you would have felt if you had been there with Mary and Joseph when Jesus was born. What would you have done? Would you have stroked baby Jesus’ head and given him a kiss? Or, what would it have been like to be in the boat with Jesus when he was asleep and a big storm was raging on the lake? Would you have been wet from the waves splashing into the boat? Would you have been scared? This sounds fun, doesn’t it? Try it next time and you’ll see that you’ll discover more about Jesus.
“Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God.”
Íñigo López de Loyola