In May, we followed in the footsteps of an extraordinary personality: Ignacy Loyola. The founder of the Jesuit Order and the Counter-Reformer was not a “normal” saint, but led a rich life.
Stefan of Kempis – Vatican
In the previous three episodes, we visited scenes from the life of Iñigo (real name of a Basque knight). We learned that his spiritual inner path is not that simple at all, but is more like an emotional odyssey.
In the last episode of the series, together with the Swiss Jesuit and historian Paul Oberholzer, we try to find a classification. He is convinced that to understand Ignatius, you need to study 16th-century Spain.
Departure to the new world
“Spain must have been in an incredible shock at that time – this is the background on which Ignatius grew up. The country finally broke free from Islam, and this liberation was also heavily interpreted by the Spaniards. At the same time, Columbus set foot on the New World. This means: the old dream that Spain will be completely free again is combined with a step into a completely unknown area.
Especially at the court of Catholic kings, Spain’s liberation was “linked to the dream of crossing North Africa to Jerusalem to build an end-time Christian monarchy,” says Oberholzer. In addition, it was realized that the world is much bigger than expected. “This is Ignatius’ background: he grows up with incredible dynamics there and is himself part of that Spanish dynamics of awakening.”
Ignatius’ Spain offers a completely different picture than the German lands, where at the same time Martin Luther calls for the reform of the Church. Father Oberholzer points out that the Spanish kings carried out a church reform as early as the 15th century, which anticipated and resolved many of Luther’s demands. “Bishops resided in their dioceses, religious orders were bound by the rules – that is, elements that were lacking in Germany, especially in Spain, were generally fine in Spain … spiritual awakening in secular life! “
“We have to look a bit at the Pamplona conversion …”
Father Oberholzer suspects that Ignatius’ conversion did not begin in 1521 after he was badly wounded while defending Pamplona. As a page in the service of the viceroy of Navarre, Ignatius read spiritual literature at a young age and was “spiritually active.” “So I think we should look a bit at the conversion in Pamplona; Ignatius was not indifferent to religion, previously indifferent ”. The “spiritual exercises” which Ignatius began to write in Manresa in 1522 are “an expression of a long preoccupation” with the spiritual life.
Apparently, during his stay in Manresa (which we dealt with in the last episode), Ignatius “was not entirely far from a religious enthusiast,” as Oberholzer put it. “This is a spiritual awakening, which was associated with massive ascetic exercises – I think Ignacy was a bit overwhelmed, one could say, and then he distanced himself from it again. It is interesting, however, that many elements from that time have remained alive. ” This shows, for example, “the whole struggle for a personal experience of God, as we read in the spiritual diary” – decades after the emotional ride on the Manresa roller coaster.
A courtier, a beggar, a scientist, a popular preacher …
The Jesuit Oberholzer presents the founder of his order as a very diverse personality: courtier and loner, knight and beggar, academic and popular preacher. On the one hand, “that inquiry which then leads to the founding of the Order” – and on the other, “the institutional element”.
“Ignatius cannot be understood if one wants to clothe him only in the spiritual dimension; this relationship with administration is always present. The institution and personal spiritual path were not mutually exclusive. And it is in this balance that Ignatius becomes interesting to me … “
Ignatius and Luther – Impossible Understanding
Father Oberholzer, when asked if Ignatius and Luther would have something to say to each other if they ever met, expressed doubts. “I think they were very different people: a very academic Luther, a monk. And the Knights Ignatius and the Spaniards. I wonder if they were two different worlds … Their origins were too different. “
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In the footsteps of St. Ignatius