July 31 is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
As a young man, Ignatius became a soldier and made himself known as a dueler. After a war injury, Ignatius read about the lives of the saints while he was recovering and experienced a conversion. He gave away his clothes to the poor, worked in a hospital, and begged for his food. In between these activities, Ignatius would go to a cave to pray and meditate.
While doing so, he documented his experiences in a journal, which would eventually evolve into his Spiritual Exercises, which are still practiced by many people today.
Holding onto his dream of going to the Holy Land, Ignatius began studying in Paris. During his time here, Ignatius led his roommates, Peter Faber and Francis Xavier, in prayer. Together, the three called themselves “Friends in the Lord” (or, as known today, the Jesuits).
In 1540, Pope Paul III approved this group as an official religious order. With Ignatius as the order’s first leader, the Jesuits sought to educate the young. At the time of Ignatius's death in 1556, the order had established over 30 schools.
On July 27, 1609, Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V. A few years later, he was canonized on March 12, 1622. St. Ignatius of Loyola is the patron saint of the Jesuits, soldiers, educators, and education.
Today, the Jesuits are the single largest religious order of priests and brothers in the world, and they are the order to which Pope Francis belongs.
Get to know St. Ignatius through this Spotify playlist featuring artists Coldplay and Luke Spehar, and themes of meditation and hope.