« PreviousContinue »
chain, put on a hair shirt, disciplined himself three times a day, laid upon the bare ground, and lived upon bread and water for a week. Not content with these mortifications, he sometimes added to his hair shirt a girdle of certain herbs full of thorns and prickles. He spent seven hours every day in prayer, and frequently continued a length of time without motion. Considering, however, that this maceration of his body would advance him but a little way to heaven, he next resolved to stifle in himself all emotions of pride and self love, and for this end, be studiously rendered himself disgusting, neglecting his person, and to hide his quality, assuming a clownish carriage. With his face covered with dirt, bis hair matted, and his beard and nails of a fearful length, but his soul filled with inward satisfaction, he begged his bread from door to door, a spectacle of scorn and ridicule to all the inhabitants and children of Manreza. He persevered in this course, notwithstanding the suggestions of the wily enemy of mankind, who wished to tempt him to the world again, until a report was circulated that he was a person of quality, and the feelings of the people were converted from scorn and ridicule to admiration and reverence, whereupon he retreated to a cave in the neighbourhood. The gloom of his new abode excited in him a lively, vigorous spirit of penance, in which he revelled with the utmost fervour, and without the least restraint. He chastised his body four or five times a day with his iron chain, abstained from food until exhausted nature compelled him to refresh himself with a few roots, and instead of praying seven hours a day, he did nothing but pray from morning until night, and again, from night until morning, lamenting his transgressions, and praising the mercies of God. These excessive indulgencies mightily impaired his health, and brought on a disease of the stomach, which at intervals afflicted him, until the time of his death : the spiritual joys which they had formerly brought him suddenly disappeared, he became melancholy," had thoughts of destroying himself, and then recollecting to have read of a hermit who, having fruitlessly petitioned for a favour from God, determined to eat nothing until
prayers were heard, he also resolved to do the same; he persevered for a week, and then at the command of his spiritual director left off fasting, His troubles ceased, and he now began to wax into a saint. He had a vision of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, of which he spoke, although he could only just read and write, with so much light, and with such sublime expressions, that the most ignorant were instructed, and the most learned delighted. Nay, he wrote down his conceptions of this mystery, but we lament to say, that his manuscript was unfortunately lost. His visions began to multiply, the most
remarkable of which was an extacy which lasted eight days, neither more nor less. These illuminations were so convincing, that he was heard to say, that had the revelations never been recorded in scripture, he would still have maintained them to the last drop of his blood. The heavenly favours he thus received he opened in part to his ghostly directors, but with this exception, he shut them up in his own heart. His efforts to conceal himself from the eyes of men were vain, his austerities and extacies, aided by the belief of his being a man of quality in disguise, attracted crowds of people to see and hear him, and he was pronounced-A SAINT. He had gained reputation, he had secured attention, and something like a design began to appear; he conceived himself called, in his language, to the service of his neighbour, that is, to apply himself to the conversion of souls. He quitted his beloved solitude, exchanged his squalid weeds for more decent attire, and reflecting that his new vocation required health and vigour, he moderated his austerities, and clothed himself with a warmer garment, made however of coarse material.
It was at this period that Loyola composed his books of Spiritual Exercises, à series of meditations divided into four parts, or weeks, intended as a practical rule by which to arrive at Christian perfection. The scope of these meditations is a consideration of the end for which man is placed on earth, whether for the purpose of enjoying the pleasures of sense, of acquiring glory, riches, &c., or to serve God; that as the things of this world are only means to some end, they are to be valued not by their intrinsic worth, but according to their tendency to şuch end, whence he concludes that they are not to be esteemed according to the good or evil they bring to the present life, but according to the advantages or hindrances we receive from them, in order to eternity. Having established this essential principle, he proceeds to the consideration of pride and disobedience, and their consequences, and thence to that of the choice of a form of life, the consideration of the passion and death of Christ, the resurrection, and in conclusion, the contemplation of spiritual love, and the perfections of the Deity. This is the brief outline of this celebrated composition, the powerful instrument of discipline, which Ignatius used in the formation of the moral and theological character of his followers. It is undoubtedly a matter of surprise, that a person so uneducated as he was at this time, should have produced a work, which although tending to asceticism, is distinguished by considerable practical wisdom; and as might be expected, doubts arose as to his really being the author of it. On this point, however, nothing satisfactory has yet appeared.
Notwithstanding that the necessary consequence of actions like these was to attract the attention of the world, he is described as being desirous of withdrawing himself from the notice and esteem of men, and he resolved to carry into execution a design, which he had long nourished, of visiting the Holy Land. He accordingly proceeded to Barcelona, where he embarked on board a ship about to sail for Italy, landed at Gayeta in 1523, and proceeded on foot to Rome, where he received the Pope's benediction, and obtained permission to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. From Rome he went to Venice, where he embarked, and arrived at Jerusalem, on the 4th of September, in that year. .
Here his heart was touched with the most tender devotion, and he began to deliberate whether he should fix his residence on the illustrious soil of Judæa, and apply himself to the conversion of the infidels. For his greater satisfaction he consulted the superior of the Franciscans, who had the care of the Holy Sepulchre; the superior remitted him to the Father Provincial, who counselled him to return to Europe, but Ignatius having some scruples about abandoning his design, answered to the Provincial, that nothing but the fear of displeasing God should make him leave the Holy Land. Why then," said the Provincial," you shall be gone to-morrow ; I have power from the holy see to send back what pilgrims I please, and you cannot resist me without offending God.” Ignatius submitted without another word, left Jerusalem on the following day, and arrived at Venice about the end of January, 1524. A Spanish merchant at this place forced him to take fifteen or sixteen reals, but on his coming to Ferrara he gave a real to the first beggar that held out his hand, a second came, and he another. These liberalities drew all the beggars to him, and he refused none so long as his money lasted, and when he had done, he began to beg himself, whereupon they cried out, a saint, a saint! He needed no more to make him leave the place; he continued his journey through Lombardy to Genoa, where he embarked for Barcelona. During his voyage
from the Holy Land, he had reflected a good deal on the subject of converting the infidels, and considering that without the aid of human learning his efforts would be comparatively inefficacious, he determined to put himself under the care of Ardebalo, the master of the grammar school at Barcelona. He was now thirty-three years of age. On his arrival at Barcelona, he fell to the study of the rudiments of the Latin language, and went every day to school with the little children, but whilst his master was explaining the rules of grammar, he was deeply engaged with the mysteries of faith. This distraction of attention he ascribed to the powers of darkness, and made a vow to
continue his studies with greater application, nay, he requested of Ardebalo to require the same task from him as the rest of the boys, and if he did not perform it, to punish him as he punished them, by reprimands and stripes. We do not learn whether the master was necessitated to quicken his scholar's diligence in the way suggested, but it is certain that he now proceeded in his studies with much greater facility. About this time he read the Enchiridion Militis Christiani of Erasmus, which had been recommended to him, but finding that it wanted fervour, and in fact, diminished his devotion and exercises of piety, (and was probably reducing him to a reasonable Christian) he threw away the book, and conceived such a horror of it, that he would never read it more, and when he became General of the Jesuits, ordered that the society should not read the works of Erasmus. Being re-established in health, he renewed his austerities, but for the sake of study, retrenched a part of his seven hours of prayer. John Pascal, a devout youth, the son of the woman with whom he lodged, would frequently rise in the night to observe what Ignatius was doing in his chamber, and sometimes he saw him on his knees, at others, prostrate on the ground, and once he thought he saw him elevated from the earth, and surrounded with light, or as Butler expresses it in his Hudibras,
“ Hang like Mahomet in th' air,
Or Saint Ignatius at his prayer." But whilst Ignatius was labouring after his own perfection, he did not neglect that of his neighbour, employing those hours which were not devoted to study, in withdrawing souls from vice, by striking examples and edifying discourses. Remarkable instances of his success are related, and on one occasion his interference cost him to his inward delight a sound external bastinado, which occasioned fifty days of sickness and pain. Having continued nearly two years at Barcelona, he was advised to pursue a course of philosophy at the University of Alcala, to which place he went accompanied by three young men, whom he had brought into the way of virtue, and who had desired to accompany him: to them he added a fourth on his arrival at Alcala. He had no sooner arrived than he began to study with such extreme eagerness, applying himself to many sciences at once, that his understanding became confused, and his labour produced no fruits. Disheartened with his little progress, he employed his time in prayer, in catechising children, and attending the sick in the hospital. The marvellous changes effected by Ignatius in Alcala through his preaching and remonstrances, at length gave rise to a rumour that he was either a magician or a heretic, which coming to the ears of the inquisitors at Toledo, they were induced to believe that he was an Illu
minato, or Lutheran, and in order to investigate the matter, they came to Alcala to take his examination upon After an exact inquiry, Ignatius was pronounced innocent, but was admonished by the Grand Vicar, that he and his companions not belonging to any religious order, must not dress in uniform habits, and he forbid him to go bare-foot, with both which commands he complied, and ever after wore shoes.
Although discharged from one accusation he was very soon afterwards subjected to another : amongst his followers were two ladies of quality, Maria de Vado and her daughter, Louisa de Velasquez, both widows: from the time of their conversion they had resolved to perform something extraordinary, and being fired with the example of the saint, they thought nothing could be finer than to clothe themselves like mendicants, and travel about begging their bread, visiting hospitals, &c. Notwithstanding that Ignatius, whom they consulted, dissuaded them from such an undertaking, they secretly departed on a pilgrimage. As soon as this event transpired, a great clamour was excited against him, he was arrested and carried to prison. But whilst a strict inquiry was being made into these matters, the ladies errant came back after a two-and-forty days' ramble, and having upon a judicial interrogation manifested the innocence of Ignatius, he was discharged on the 1st of June, 1527. The sentence of enlargement was accompanied by two restrictions ; one, that he and his companions should wear the ordinary habit of scholars, and the other, that they should abstain from expounding the mysteries of religion until such time as they had studied four years in divinity. Ignatius having some doubts of the legality of the last command, notwithstanding it was pronounced by the Grand Vicar, applied for advice to the Archbishop of Toledo, who recommended him to go and study at Salamanca, at the same time exhorting him to continue his pious functions towards his neighbour. He had no sooner arrived at Salamanca than he applied himself with his usual zeal and fervour to the conversion of souls, was again lodged in prison, and after a full examination, again set at liberty. These troubles determined_Ignatius to continue his studies at Paris, where he arrived in February, 1528, having left bis companions at Barcelona, with a design, however, that they should follow him when he had prepared for their reception. His
poverty compelled him to take up his lodging at the Hospital for strangers, and to seek for a subsistence in the alms of charitable Christians. Although these circumstances retarded his studies, they did not hinder him from pursuing his scheme of conversion, which he prosecuted with such success upon three young Spaniards, that having undergone a course of the Spiritual Exercises, they sold all they had, and gave their money to