In his twenties, he turned his life around: joining the army and embracing its discipline and stoicism.
Then Iñigo was severely wounded in battle and captured. The medical treatment he received was primitive to the point of brutality and he was confined to bed for months.
Bored and seeking distraction from his pain, Iñigo asked his caregivers for adventure books to read, but all they had to loan him were books about religious people. He decided to work with what he had and read the books as if they were adventure stories.
In those months of reading and thinking, Iñigo came to understand how a life of faith could be the greatest adventure, the greatest heroism, and the greatest glory. It proved to be an intense conversion experience, in which he learned much about himself, about God, and about the spiritual life.
It was the greatest turnaround of his life.
When he was finally able to get up and around, Iñigo spent some time alone, and then made a difficult pilgrimage to the Holy Land before devoting himself to study and to helping others reform their lives. His efforts were often met with opposition that sometimes turned violent. Eventually he left the country.
As Iñigo continued his studies, a small group of followers gathered around him. He began to see them as a company of soldiers: a company belonging to Jesus. They soon became known as the Jesuits.
Iñigo, also known as Ignatius of Loyola, came to be one of the great figures in the renewal of the Church. He also developed a book of Spiritual Exercises that remains not only a guide for life-changing spiritual retreats, but also for spiritual discernment and growth. He died in his mid sixties in Rome 450 years ago today.
(adapted from a previous post)