Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556)

Patron saint of retreats and soldiers

Feast day: July 31

Ignatius of Loyola was the youngest of 11 children of a noble family in Spain. As a young adult, his goal in life was to achieve fame and fortune. At the age of 30, he was seriously injured in battle. During the long months of his recovery, he had the opportunity to examine his life and read about the saints.

Ignatius never did anything halfway. Once he realized that God was calling him, he devoted all of his energy to discerning God’s will and then carrying it out. In search of what he ought to do, Ignatius encountered setbacks, closed doors, and even imprisonment.

He was convinced that God could be found in all things and was guided by an inner peace that comes from knowing one is doing the will of God. Ignatius developed the Spiritual Exercises, a practical guide for those who want to live a truly Christian life, and he shared them with his companions.

Ignatius called his community the “Company of Jesus.” Today they are known as the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, one of the largest religious communities in the world. Besides the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, members take a fourth vow of obedience to the Pope. 

(Image © Zvonimir Atletic /