When Iñigo de Loyola was born in 1491, Erasmus was 25, Machiavelli 22, Copernicus 18, Michelangelo 16, Thomas More 11, Teresa of Avila 9, and Martin Luther 7. Columbus would sail west the next year. The forces of modernity would begin to dismantle the medieval tradition.
The 13th child of Betran and Marina de Loyola, he was given the Basque name Eneko, which translates to Spanish as Iñigo. Born into a minor noble family, he eventually served under the finance minister of Queen Isabella. His future secretary would later write, "Although attached to his faith, he did not live his life in conformity with it, nor did he avoid sin; he was particularly given to gambling, female matters, as well as to brawling and the exercise of arms."
Iñigo's love of warfare earned him severe leg injuries, and he returned to the family home to recuperate. Lacking any other reading material, he found The Life of Christ and an anthology of saints in the castle's meager library. Instead of being merely distracted, Iñigo found himself irrevocably drawn to the consolation he felt in his reading.
Through this experience, Iñigo came to understand how God works with the human heart. From this and subsequent introspective struggles would emerge his major writings: The Spiritual Exercises, the Autobiography, and The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus. The rich spiritual legacy of these and other writings is the foundation of Ignatian Spirituality.A Youtube video of the life of Ignatius as narrated by a Spanish Olive can be viewed here: