Today Friday July 31st is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits
Today, Friday July 31st, the Jesuit community and Catholic Church celebrate the birthday of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder and first superior general of the Jesuits, the founders of Fairfield University. The following biography was written by Rev. Joseph MacDonnell, SJ, (RIP) longtime faculty member in the Mathematics Department.
Ignatius Loyola was the son of Basque noble parents. He spent his early adult years as a soldier, until he was seriously wounded at the battle of Pamplona. As a result of his spiritual reading and personal reflection during his convalescence at Loyola, he ended his military career and embraced the penitential life of a pilgrim. While in the town of Manressa, he began work on his little book, the Spiritual Exercises. His experience during his conversion and afterwards convinced him that human beings were called to a direct encounter with God. While still a layman, he became a spiritual guide for many people. The Spiritual Exercises remain an aid for others to encounter God directly and discern God's will in their lives.
After a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Ignatius returned to Europe and began academic studies at Barcelona, Salamanca and Paris.
While at the University of Paris, his first companions gathered around him as a result of going through the Spiritual Exercises with him.
He and his first companions felt at first as if they were called to work as missionaries in the Holy Land. When this proved impossible, they placed themselves at the service of Pope Paul III. On September 27, 1540, the Society of Jesus for formally approved by the pope.
The Jesuits were founded to be educators of the Christian life. Their entrance into the field of education was something of an accident, but once it happened with the establishment of a school in Messina, Sicily, in 1547, it dominated much of the life, work and reputation of the Society.
By the time Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556, the Society had 1,000 members in 76 houses in 12 provinces including Brazil, Japan and India. Of these, forty were colleges.
Fairfield University founded in 1942 is an expression of that same Ignatian vision and tradition.
For more information, contact Jim Fitzpatrick' 70 / x2378 / firstname.lastname@example.org