Ignatius of Loyola
The Holy See, Rome
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was born in the small town of Guipúzcoa in the Basque country of Spain. As a youth, he was educated at the court of the Spanish king, and as a young adult served as an administrator and soldier for the Duke of Navarre. He was quite brave in battle, and even more courageous in recovering from a severe leg wound he had received. He directed the doctors to re-break and re-set his broken leg without any form of anesthesia.
Inigo, as Ignatius was called at the time, reflected carefully on his interior thoughts and feelings during a lengthy period of his recovery and came to the firm decision of leaving the service of the duke and serving instead Christ, as his king. With a strong sense of purpose and a deep desire to help people achieve their purpose in life, Ignatius began sharing with others the practices of prayer and reflection that he had learned through much experience. Church leaders insisted that, even though his insights and practices were correct as written in his book The Spiritual Exercises, he could not continue such a ministry without proper education.
Though he was already in his thirties, Ignatius began formal studies and concluded the equivalent of a doctorate with a degree from the University of Paris in 1534. While at the University, he formed deep friendships with six other students who were from various countries in Europe. Over time, they began serving the poor and eventually went to Rome where they were approved as a new religious order “The Society of Jesus” (Jesuits). They placed themselves at the direction of the Pope as to where they could do the most good and chose Ignatius as their first superior.
Beginning in 1541 Ignatius directed the young but swiftly-growing Jesuit Order from his offices in Rome. By the time of his death in 1556, the Jesuits had 74 colleges on three continents.
The figure of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus ("Jesuits"), is depicted in the typical garb of his Order at the time, and holding a book containing the emblem and Motto of the Society. On the left is the emblem, IHS, the first Greek letters of the name Jesus; on the right is the Latin motto: "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam," ("For the Greater Glory of God"). Below the figure of St. Ignatius is a thorn-encircled heart, pierced on either side by a sword and a lance, symbolic of The Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius' great contribution to the literature of the spiritual life.
The base section of this window contains the official arms of the Holy See: the papal tiara over two keys suggesting the Greek letter Chi (X), referring to Christ. One key is silver, and the other is gold. The keys denote Christ’s words to St. Peter:
"And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 16:19)