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The Conversion of St. Ignatius Loyola


The life of St. Ignatius of Loyola furnishes another instance of what may be gained by reading religious books. He was born at the castle of Loyola in Spain and served as a page in the court of King Ferdinand V. Stimulated by a keen desire for glory and fame, he exchanged the life as a courtier for that of a warrior. In the army he distinguished himself by his courage and valor and was placed in command of the fortress of Pampeluna during the Franco-Spanish war in 1521. While defending the fortress against the enemy, he was wounded in the leg by a cannon ball and had to be taken to the hospital. There time hung heavy and to while away the hours he asked a nurse to provide a book for him to read. A volume of the Lives of the Saints was given to him. In reading this book Ignatius saw true glory for the first time. He resolved that from that time on he would consecrate his life to God and the salvation of others. He was then thirty years old. Conscious that his lack of education would hold him back, he subsequently entered the University of Paris and obtained a doctor’s degree in 1534. As founder of the Society of Jesus, the work this man began is astounding. Reading the Lives of the Saints is like looking in a mirror; we see ourselves as we are and realize our shortcomings.

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