From the HouseTops, Catholic Magazine

Saint Benedict Magazine

By Rev. D Chisolm

How Saint Ignatius 

Became a Saint

Ignatius Loyola was a young man  whose only ambition in life was to  gain for himself a great name by his  bravery and deeds of valor. He had  forgotten altogether the one great end  of his creation and lived as if he had  nothing to hope for hereafter.  He had not, it is true lost the gift  of faith, but had imbibed so much spirit  of the world that all his thoughts were  fixed upon it, and although he never  yielded to any dishonorable act  or anything that would stain  his moral character, yet he  lived at enmity with God,  and thought only of the  honors and the pleasures  of this present life.  An occasion soon occurred  which gave him the  opportunity he continually aspired  after, of gaining renown. 

A war  broke out between Charles V, Emperor  of Germany, and the King of France.  Ignatius hastened to offer his services  to aid in the defense of Pampeluna  against the attack of the French army,  which was advancing to besiege it. His  offer was accepted, and he was left in  Pampeluna by the Viceroy, not to command,  but to encourage the garrison. He  did all in his power to defend the city,  but in vain.  However, when he saw them open  the gates to the enemy, to save his own  honor he retired into the citadel with  only one soldier who had the courage  to follow him. 

The garrison of this fortress  deliberated likewise whether they  should surrender, but Ignatius encouraged  them to stand their ground.  The French attacked  the place with great fury,  and with their artillery  made a wide breach in the  wall, and attempted to take  it by assault. Ignatius appeared  upon the breach at  the head of the bravest part of  the garrison, and with his sword  in his hand endeavored to drive back  the enemy; but in the heat of the combat  a shot from a cannon broke from the  wall a bit of stone, which struck and  bruised his left leg, and the ball itself  in the rebound broke and shattered his  right leg. The garrison, seeing him fall,  surrendered at discretion. 

The French used their victory with  moderation, and treated the prisoners  well, especially Ignatius, in consideration  of his quality and valor. They  carried him at first to the General’s  quarters, and soon after sent him in a  litter carried by two men to the castle  of Loyola, which was not far from  Pampeluna.  It was long before he could be  removed from his couch even after  his legs had begun to heal. He was in  perfect health, but found the time of  inaction tedious to his martial spirit.  As he had a special attraction for tales  of chivalry, he asked his attendant to  bring him some book of romances, or  the fabulous histories of knight-errantry.  None such books then being found  in the castle of Loyola, his servant  brought him books containing the lives  of our Divine Saviour, of His Blessed  Mother, and of the saints. 

This kind  of reading was not what the wounded  man would have chosen, but as no others  could be procured he was glad to  read them to pass away the time.  He read first one and then the  other, and soon began to relish them  and to spend whole days in reading  them. He chiefly admired in the  saints their love of solitude and of  the Cross. He learned there also that  among the anchorites there had been  many persons of quality and possessing  great riches, who, renouncing all  these things for God’s sake, buried  themselves alive in caves and dens,  pale with fasting and covered with  haircloth, and he said to himself,  “These men were of the same nature  and frame as I am; why, then, should  I not do what they have done?” 

 As he read the life of Our Divine  Redeemer, he felt his heart inflamed  with the great desire to love Him more  and more. Not only did he read it over  and over again, but he wrote down in a  book the pious thoughts that moved his  heart for now he could think of nothing  else. The world had now passed out of  his mind, and he thought only of God  and heavenly things. It is related that in  this book whenever he wrote the Holy  Name of Jesus he always did so in letters  of gold, and that he always wrote  in letters of silver the august name of  Mary.  It was thus that, by reading pious  books, one of the greatest saints in  Heaven, and the founder of the Society  of Jesus, was changed from being a  child of the world to become the means  of leading myriad souls to God and to  Heaven.  Let us, then, feed our souls daily  with this same spiritual food, that we  also may become more and more fervent  in the love of God. 

It was thus that, by reading pious  books,
one of the greatest saints in Heaven, and the founder of the Society  of Jesus, was changed from being a  child of the world to become the means  of leading myriad souls to God and to  Heaven.