Preface of the Writer
Jesus, Mary. In the year 1553, one Friday morning, August 4, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of the Snows, while St. Ignatius was in the garden, I began to give him an account of my soul, and, among other things, I spoke to him of how I was tempted by vain glory. The spiritual advice he gave me was this: |Refer everything that you do to God; strive to offer Him all the good you find in yourself, acknowledging that this comes from God, and thank Him for it.| The advice given to me on this occasion was so consoling to me that I could not refrain from tears. St. Ignatius then related to me that for two years he had struggled against vain glory; so much so, indeed, that when he was about to embark for Jerusalem at Barcelona he did not dare to tell any one where he was going. He told me, moreover, that since that time his soul had experienced great peace in regard to this matter.
An hour or two later we went to dinner, and, while Master Polancus and I were dining with him, St. Ignatius said that Master Natalis and others of the Society had often asked him to give a narrative of his life, but he had never as yet decided to do so. On this occasion, however, after I had spoken to him, he reflected upon it alone. He was favorably inclined toward it. From the way he spoke, it was evident God had enlightened him. He had resolved to manifest the main points of his interior life up to the present, and had concluded that I was the one to whom he would make these things known.
At that time St. Ignatius was in very feeble health. He did not promise himself one day of life, but, on the contrary, if any one were to say, |I shall do that within two weeks or a week,| St. Ignatius was accustomed to say: |How is that? Do you think you are going to live that long?| However, on this occasion, he said he hoped to live three or four months to finish the narrative. The next day when I asked him when he wished to begin, he answered that I should remind him every day until he had an opportunity for it. As he could not find time, partly on account of his many occupations, he told me to remind him of it every Sunday. In the following September he called me, and began to relate his whole life clearly and distinctly with all the accompanying circumstances. Afterward, in the same month, he called me three or four times, and told me the history of his life up to the time of his dwelling at Manresa. The method followed by St. Ignatius is so clear that he places vividly before our eyes the events of the past.
It was not necessary to ask him anything, as nothing important was omitted. I began to write down certain points immediately, and I afterward filled out the details. I endeavored to write nothing that I did not hear from him. So closely did I adhere to his very words that afterward I was unable to explain the meaning of some of them. This narrative I wrote, as I have indicated above, up to September, 1553. From that time until the 18th of October, 1554, when Father Natalis came, St. Ignatius did not continue the narrative, but pleaded excuse on account of infirmities or other business, saying to me, |When such and such a business is settled, remind me of it.| When that work was done, I recalled it to his memory. He replied, |Now I have that other affair on hand; when it is finished remind me.|
Father Natalis was overjoyed that a beginning had been made, and told me to urge St. Ignatius to complete it, often saying to me, |In no other way can you do more good to the Society, for this is fundamentally the Society.| He himself spoke to St. Ignatius about it, and I was told to remind him of it when the work in regard to the founding of the college was finished. And when it was over, and the business with Prester John settled and the courier had departed, we continued the history on the 9th of March, 1555. About this time Pope Julius became ill, and died on the 23d of the same month. The narrative was then postponed until the election of the new Pope, who died soon after his election. Our work remained untouched until Pope Paul mounted the papal throne. On account of the great heat and many occupations, the biography did not make much progress until the 21st of September, when there was question of sending me to Spain. And so he appointed the morning of the 22d for a meeting in the red tower. After saying Mass I went to him to ask him if it were the time. He told me to go and wait for him in the red tower. Supposing that I should have to wait a long while, I delayed on the porch, talking with a brother who asked me about something. When St. Ignatius came he reprimanded me because, contrary to obedience, I had not waited for him in the appointed place, and he would not do anything that day. Then we urged him very earnestly to continue. So he came to the red tower, and, according to his custom, dictated while walking.
While taking these notes I tried to see his face, and kept drawing near to him. He said to me, |Keep your rule.| And as I approached again, and looked at him a second and a third time, he repeated what he had said and then went away. Finally, after some time, he returned to the red tower to complete the dictation. As I was about starting on my journey, and St. Ignatius spoke to me the day before my departure, I could not write out the narrative in full at Rome. At Genoa where I went I had no Spanish secretary, so I dictated in Latin the points I had brought with me, and finished the writing at Genoa in December, 1555.