Ignatius of Loyola

Spanish Catholic priest and theologian (1491–1556)
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Saint Ignatius of Loyola (December 24, 1491July 31, 1556), also known as Ignacio (Iñigo) López de Loyola, was the principal founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a religious order of the Catholic Church professing direct service to the Pope in terms of mission. Members of the order are called Jesuits.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola


  • I have studied at Barcelona, at Salamanca, at Alcala, at Paris; what have I learned? The language of doubt; but in me there was no harbor for doubt. Jesus came, and my trust in God has grown by the doubts of men.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 599.
  • Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
  • Up to his twenty-sixth year the heart of Ignatius was enthralled by the vanities of the world. His special delight was in the military life, and he seemed led by a strong and empty desire of gaining for himself a great name.
    • Ignatius describing himself in the third person, in The Autobiography of St. Ignatius
  • Let me look at the foulness and ugliness of my body. Let me see myself as an ulcerous sore running with every horrible and disgusting poison.
    • No. 58.
  • The safest and most suitable form of penance seems to be that which causes pain in the flesh but does not penetrate to the bones, that is, which causes suffering but not sickness. So the best way seems to be to scourge oneself with thin cords which hurt superficially, rather than to use some other means which might produce serious internal injury.
    • No. 86.
  • The picture. A great plain, comprising the entire Jerusalem district, where is the supreme Commander-in-Chief of the forces of good, Christ our Lord: another plain near Babylon, where Lucifer is, at the head of the enemy.
    • No. 138.
  • Imagine that leader of all the enemy, in that great plain of Babylon, sitting on a sort of throne of smoking flame, a horrible and terrifying sight. Watch him calling together countless devils, to despatch them into different cities till the whole world is covered, forgetting no province or locality, no class or single individual.
    • No. 140-141.
  • The enemy is like a woman, weak in face of opposition, but correspondingly strong when not opposed. In a quarrel with a man, it is natural for a woman to lose heart and run away when he faces up to her; on the other hand, if the man begins to be afraid and to give ground, her rage, vindictiveness and fury overflow and know no limit.
    • No. 325.
  • We should always be prepared so as never to err to believe that what I see as white is black, if the hierarchical Church defines it thus.
    • No. 365.

Quotes about Ignatius of Loyola

  • Ignatius, for understandable reasons, is the saint I know better than any other. He founded our Order. … Jesuits were and still are the leavening — not the only one but perhaps the most effective — of Catholicism: culture, teaching, missionary work, loyalty to the Pope. But Ignatius who founded the Society, was also a reformer and a mystic. Especially a mystic. … They have been fundamental. A religion without mystics is a philosophy. … I love the mystics; Francis also was in many aspects of his life, but I do not think I have the vocation and then we must understand the deep meaning of that word. The mystic manages to strip himself of action, of facts, objectives and even the pastoral mission and rises until he reaches communion with the Beatitudes. Brief moments but which fill an entire life.
  • [Friends of order] are often heard to say that the Jesuits must be reestablished. Without disputing the merits of this order, one must say that this suggestion for their reestablishment indicates a lack of deep reflection. Do they mean that St Ignatius is at hand ready to serve our purposes? If the order were destroyed, perhaps it could be reestablished by some lay brother with the same inspiration that created it originally, but all the sovereigns in the world would never succeed.
  • Out of this crucible of trial, self-examination, and anguished yearning for peace and light there emerged in Iñigo de Loyola that balance of spirit and matter, of mind and body, of mystical contemplation and pragmatic action that has ever since been recognized as typically and specifically "Ignatian," as distinct from the spirituality of, say, St. Benedict or St. Dominic or St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.


  • Give me the child for the first seven years and I will give you the man.
    • Jesuit maxim widely attributed to Ignatius Loyola; according to Three Myths, by A. Beichman et al. (1981), p. 48, this saying was "attributed to him (perhaps mischievously) by Voltaire."