St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, was born at Loyola in Spain, in the year 1491. He served his king as a soldier till his thirtieth year.
Convalescing from a severe wound received at the siege of Pampeluna, he was given, in the absence of other books the Lives of Jesus Christ and of the Saints. It dawned on his chivalric nature that the Church has need of her army to defend under the sovereign Pontiff the interest of God against heresy and all evil. On his recovery he ascended Montserrat and in the Benedictine Abbey there he laid down his sword at the feet of the Blessed Virgin. He learned here to love the Psalms and canticles of the Divine Office which he was later to recommend to the faithful; he desired that those who were to make Spiritual Exercises should choose a dwelling whence they could easily go to the Offices of Matins and Vespers as well as to Mass. Among the Benedictines of St. Paul’s in Rome, Ignatius pronounced his vows and was regularly elected the first general of his new Society.
The name of Loyola and the Society founded by him are synonymous with the highest degree of Catholic life and activity, so that the enemies of the Church, whilst they may show toleration for other religious Orders, keep up an undying hatred for that of St. Ignatius, in which they justly recognize the most efficient and invincible army which Providence has placed under the immediate command of the Vicar of Christ.
Ignatius and his companions, by means of the Spiritual Exercises tried to raise the clergy to a higher realization of their own dignity and mission. Their zeal for the Liturgy led them to restore the churches to their former cleanliness, dignity and magnificence. Drawn by these exterior attractions, the faithful were more easily induced to frequent the Sacraments and Offices of the Church. From the very beginning they undertook works of education and missionary labors.
With the sweet name of Jesus on his lips and in his heart, St. Ignatius gave his soul to God on July 31, 1556. His body is preserved in Rome in the magnificent church built by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and dedicated to his memory.
(Source: The New Roman Missal, Rev. F. X. Lasance)