SermonIndex Audio Sermons

The Autobiography Of St Ignatius by Saint Ignatius Loyola


After the event related in the last chapter, Ignatius mounted the little horse which his companions had purchased for him, and began his journey toward his native land. Even on the way he found his health improving. As soon as he arrived in the province of Guipuscoa, his native country, abandoning the common highway he followed a road through the mountains because it was less frequented. He had advanced a short distance by this path when he saw two armed men approaching. The place was famous as the haunt of murderers. The men passed him a little and then turning, hurried after him. He was not a little frightened, but still, addressing them, he learned that they were his brother's servants sent to meet him. For he had reason to believe that a warning of his coming was sent to his brother from Bayonne in France, where he had been recognized by several persons. Still Ignatius kept on in the direction he had taken, and shortly before he arrived in the town he met some priests coming to meet him. They wished to bring him to his brother's home; but their efforts were unavailing. He went to a public hospital, and afterward, at a suitable time, begged for alms through the town.

Many came to see him in the hospital. He spoke to them, and through God's grace gathered no little fruit. Upon his arrival, he resolved to teach the Christian doctrine to children every day. His brother objected to this, and assured him that no one would come. In answer Ignatius said, |One is enough for me.| However, as soon as he began to teach, many came regularly, his brother among the number. In addition to this, on Sundays and feast days, he also preached to the people with great fruit, and thousands came many miles to hear him. He labored also for the removal of many abuses, and through God's grace good results were obtained in many cases. To give an example: By his representations to the governor he obtained an order forbidding gambling and other disorders, under great penalties. He took means that the poor should be provided for publicly and regularly, and that thrice a day, morning, noon, and evening, according to the Roman custom, a signal should be given by ringing a bell for the recital of the Angelus by the people.

Although at first he enjoyed good health, he afterward fell seriously ill. For this reason, after his recovery, he determined to depart in order to accomplish the business which he had undertaken for his companions. He resolved to set out on foot and without money. His brother was grieved at this, and looked on it as a disgrace to himself. Ignatius concluded to yield this point, and at last, toward evening, he consented to be carried to the boundary of the province in company with his brother and relatives.

But as soon as he had left the province, he dismounted and without receiving any sustenance for the journey he set out for Pampeluna and thence to Almazonus, the birthplace of Father Laynez. Then he traveled on to Siguensa and to Toledo, and afterward from Toledo to Valencia. In all these cities, the birthplaces of his companions, he would receive nothing from their parents and relations, although they offered him a great many things, and begged him to accept them. At Valencia he had a conversation with Castro. When ready to embark at Valencia to sail to Genoa, several of his well-wishers dissuaded him, because, as they asserted, the Barbary pirates were on the sea with many large ships. However, though they said a great deal to inspire fear, still he did not hesitate. Having gone aboard a vessel, a great storm arose during the voyage. This was mentioned before, where Ignatius describes the three occasions on which he was in danger of death. On this journey he suffered a great deal, as I shall now relate. One day after landing he wandered from his path and followed a road which ran along the bank of a river. The road was high, while far below was the river deep and sluggish. The farther he advanced, the narrower grew the road. At last he came to a spot where he could neither go forward nor backward. He then began to advance on hands and feet and continued thus for a long time, full of fear. For as often as he moved it seemed to him that he would fall into the river. This was the greatest of all the bodily labors that he ever experienced. At last he escaped, but just as he was entering Bologna he fell from a little bridge and was so wet and dirty from the mud and water as to afford much laughter to a great crowd who observed the accident. From his entrance into Bologna until his departure he begged for alms, and though he went through the whole city, he did not receive so much as a farthing. As he was ill, he rested for a while at Bologna. Thence he directed his steps toward Venice, traveling always in the same way. At Venice he spent his time in giving the Exercises and in other spiritual works. Those to whom he gave the Exercises were Peter Contarenus, Gaspar a Doctis, Rozes a Spaniard, and another Spaniard named Hozes, who, like the pilgrim, was a great friend of the bishop. Hozes at first would not make the Exercises, although he felt drawn to do so. At last he resolved to undertake the work, and on the third or fourth day he opened his mind to Ignatius. He said that he had feared that by the Exercises his mind might be imbued with false doctrines. Indeed, he had been persuaded by a man to be on his guard, and for this reason he had brought along with him a book to use in case he were imposed on. He made great progress in the Exercises, and finally embraced that manner of life which Ignatius had established. He was the first of the companions of the Saint to die.

At Venice another persecution was stirred up against Ignatius. Some asserted that he had been burned in effigy both in Spain and in Paris. The matter went so far that he was brought to trial, but obtained a favorable sentence. At the beginning of the year 1538 the nine companions came to Venice and were scattered about the city in various hospitals to minister to the sick. After two or three months all journeyed to Rome to receive the Pope's blessing before going to Jerusalem. Ignatius, however, did not go to Rome on account of Doctor Ortiz and the Theatine Cardinal recently raised to that dignity. The companions on their return brought the value of two or three hundred gold crowns which had been given to them as alms for their projected journey to Jerusalem. They would accept it only in the form of bills, and when they were unable to make the voyage to Jerusalem they returned it to those who had made the gift. They returned to Venice in the same manner that they had set out for Rome. They traveled on foot and begging, divided into three parties, as they were of different nationalities. Those who were not priests were ordained at Venice, having received faculties from the Nuncio, who was then in that city and who was afterward called Cardinal Verallus. They were promoted to the priesthood sub titulo paupertatis, having made vows of poverty and chastity. That year no ships left for the East, on account of the breach of the treaty between the Venetians and Turks. When, therefore, they saw their hopes deferred, they dispersed into various parts of the Venetian territory, with the understanding that they should wait one year, as they had previously resolved; when that time had elapsed, they were to return to Rome if it was not possible to make the voyage. Vicenza fell to the lot of Ignatius. His companions were Faber and Laynez. Outside of the city they found a house that had neither door nor windows. Here they lived, sleeping on a little straw which they had brought with them. Two of the three entered the city twice daily, in the morning and evening, to ask for alms. They returned with so little that it hardly sufficed for their nourishment. Their usual food was bread, when they could get it. The one who chanced to remain at home did the baking. In this way they spent forty days, intent upon nothing but prayer.

After the forty days were over, Master John Codurus arrived, and the four determined to begin preaching. On the same day and at the same hour, in different squares, all began to preach, having first uttered a great cry, and having waved their hats with their hands to call the people. These sermons caused great talk in the city, and led many citizens to a devout life. Now the needed nourishment was supplied to them more abundantly. While the pilgrim was at Vicenza, he had many spiritual visions. Consolations were sent to him in great number. This was especially so at Venice, while he was preparing for the priesthood and for celebrating Mass. On all his journeys, he received great supernatural visitations, like those which he had been wont to receive at Manresa.

While still at Venice he learned that one of his companions was sick unto death at Bassanum. He was himself ill with fever, still he undertook the journey, and walked so rapidly that Faber, his companion, was unable to keep up with him. On the way he received an assurance from God that his companion would not die of this illness. As soon as they arrived at Bassanum, the sick man was very much consoled, and not long after grew better. After this, all returned to Vicenza, and there the ten tarried for a while, some going about the neighboring towns to beg for alms.

In the year that passed, as no means could be had of journeying to Jerusalem, they set out on their way to Rome, divided into three or four parties. On the journey Ignatius experienced singular visitations from God. After his reception of the priesthood, he had resolved to put off the offering of his first Mass for one year, in order to prepare himself better, and to ask the Most Blessed Virgin to place him near her Son. One day, when he was a few miles from Rome, he entered a church to pray, and there felt his soul so moved and changed, and saw so clearly that God the Father placed him with Christ His Son, that he did not dare to doubt it. When Ignatius was told that several other details were related by Laynez, he replied: |Whatever Laynez said about the matter is true. For my part, I do not remember the particulars; but,| he added, |I know for certain that when I related what happened I told nothing but the truth.| These were his words about the vision. He referred me to Laynez to verify what he narrated.

Once Ignatius left Rome for Monte Cassino, to give the Exercises to Doctor Ortiz, and spent forty days there. One day, at a certain hour, in a vision, he saw Hozes entering heaven. In this vision he shed abundant tears of consolation. He saw this so clearly that if he were to say the contrary, it would seem to him as if he were telling a lie. He brought with him from Monte Cassino Francis Strada. After his return to Rome, he labored for the help of souls, and gave the Exercises to two different persons, one of whom dwelt near the Sixtine Bridge, the other near the Church of St. Mary Major. Soon the people began to persecute Ignatius and his companions. Michael was the first of all to be troublesome and to speak wickedly of Ignatius, and had him summoned before the governor for trial. Ignatius showed the governor a letter written by the same Michael, in which he commended Ignatius very highly. The governor examined Michael, and the result was that he was exiled from Rome. After him followed Mindarra and Berrera, who said that Ignatius and his companions were fugitives from Spain, Paris, and Venice. Finally, however, in the presence of the governor and ambassador then at Rome, both acknowledged that they had nothing which they could say against them with regard to their doctrines or their lives. The ambassador ordered this lawsuit to be abandoned. Ignatius objected, saying that he wished the sentence to be made clear and public. This did not please the ambassador and the governor, nor even those who had previously taken sides with Ignatius. A few months afterward the Roman Pontiff returned. While he was at Tusculum Ignatius was admitted to an audience with the Holy Father, and having given some of his reasons, he obtained what he wished. The Pope ordered sentence to be passed, and it was given in favor of Ignatius and his companions.

Through the labors of Ignatius and his companions, certain pious works were established at Rome, as that of Catechumens, that of St. Martha, and that of the Orphans. Master Natalis can tell the rest.

<<  Contents  >>

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy