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Well-known as the founder of the Jesuit order, St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in Spain in 1491. He grew up the youngest of 13 children in a noble family. He was a page at Isabella and Ferdinand’s court, then a soldier in the Spanish Army fighting France. A cannonball hit him in the leg, partially crippling him during the 1521 Pampeluna siege.

Recovering from injury, Ignatius took a vow of chastity and put on pilgrim’s robes living in a cave for two years. He experienced visions, then went to the Holy Land to convert Muslims in 1523. Studying the lives of saints, he traveled and wrote “Spiritual Exercises.”

Ignatius earned a degree in Paris and attracted students including St. Francis Xavier. He started the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. Often depicted as a man of learning writing in a book with a cross above him. Ignatius has a feast day on July 31.

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