Saturday, August 21, 2010

VATICAN MAN








With Liberal leader Tony Abbott knocking on the door of The Lodge, it is perhaps timely to meditate upon his education under the Jesuit order, with reference to the order's founder, the Basque Iñigo Loyola, better known now as Saint Ignatius. 




The youngest son of the aristocratic Loyola family, Iñigo was born in the family castle overlooking the town of Azpeitia in Guipuscoa province, about 25 kilometres southwest of the city of San Sebastian. His noble birth gave him entry into the most rarified circles of Spanish society, including the royal court of Isabella and Ferdinand. There he seems to have conducted himself much as one might have expected from a well-born courtier of the time, his demeanour evoked in the precisely calibrated language of the Catholic Encyclopaedia: 
‘He was affected and extravagant about his hair and dress, consumed with the desire of winning glory, and would seem to have been sometimes involved in those darker intrigues, for which handsome young courtiers too often think themselves licensed. How far he went on the downward course is still unproved. The balance of evidence tends to show that his own subsequent humble confessions of having been a great sinner should not be treated as pious exaggerations.’
It would appear that it was not simple vanity and the pleasures of the flesh which consumed the young Loyola either. He had visions of personal grandeur, initially fed, as with another legendary Spaniard, the Don Quixote of Cervantes, by a voracious appetite for reading the romances of chivalry and knight errantry, which were the pulp fiction of his day.*

Perhaps dreaming of one day leading an army into battle - a destiny which indeed did await him, although not in any form the preening young dissolute could ever have imagined - Loyola entered military service. His dreams were soon shattered, when at the age of just 29 he was badly wounded in action against the French during their siege of the northern stronghold of Pamplona. Serious enough in itself, the wound was not as terrible as the treatment he would undergo for it, according to historian Leopold von Ranke:
‘...a cannon ball, passing between Ignatius’ legs, tore open the left calf and broke the right shin (Whit-Tuesday, 20 May, 1521). With his fall the garrison lost heart and surrendered, but he was well treated by the French and carried on a litter to Loyola, where his leg had to be rebroken and reset, and afterwards a protruding end of the bone was sawn off, and the limb, having been shortened by clumsy setting, was stretched out by weights. All these pains were undergone voluntarily, without uttering a cry or submitting to be bound. But the pain and weakness which followed were so great that the patient began to fail and sink.’
Stricken with a fever, he defied the opinions of his doctors by surviving. What he read during his long recovery induced a life-changing conviction, according to Owen Chadwick in The Reformation. ‘Then, in order to divert the weary hours of convalescence, he asked for the romances of chivalry, his favourite reading, but there were none in the castle, and instead they brought him the lives of Christ and of the saints, and he read them in the same quasi-competitive spirit with which he read the achievements of knights and warriors. “Suppose I were to rival this saint in fasting, that one in endurance, that other in pilgrimages.”’
Fired with such notions during his year of convalescence, in March 1522 he visited the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat in the mountains above Barcelona, where he gave away his rich clothes and hung up his weaponry before an image of the Virgin Mary. He attempted to write a thorough catalogue of his sins - compiling it is said to have taken him three days - and made a full confession.

On his route back to Loyola, he stopped off in the small Catalan city of Manresa, high in the mountains inland from Barcelona. There he lived in a cave for eight months, where troubled by lingering doubts about whether he had really managed to catalogue each and every one of his sins, he submitted to a severe self-discipline of deep meditations and prayer, accompanied by bodily privations of cold and fasting. He experienced visions there, a phenomenon which would recur for the rest of his life. 
It was also during this period that he accumulated the experiences which would comprise the raw material for The Spiritual Exercises, the seminal text which would later become the wellspring of discipline for the educational and missionary agenda of himself and his followers.
He decided to undertake a pilgrimage to Palestine, the Holy Land, a journey which in its perils and legendary hardships rivals the travails of Quixote himself, during which Loyola suffered chronic ill-health and near starvation, as well as shipwreck and imprisonment. His terrible ordeal proved all for nought too: under stringent orders from the Pope, the Franciscan friars in charge of the holy sites in Jerusalem would not permit Christian pilgrims access, for fear that they would be kidnapped and held for ransom by locals. So at the end of a harsh and bitter journey, Loyola had no alternative but to turn around and find sea passage as best he could back to the port of Barcelona.
Perhaps on deck somewhere returning across the Mediterranean, or in the period soon after his return to Spain, he began the transition from mystic pilgrim to spiritual leader. Armed with his experiences in the cave in Manresa, which he was inscribing into The Spiritual Exercises, he glimpsed a means to draw a group of like-minded Catholics around him, in a highly disciplined religious cadre. His preparations for his calling included studies at a number of universities, one of them Salamanca, Spain’s finest, though this increasingly odd-seeming noble could not help but attract the eyes of officialdom, as J.H. Elliott pointed out in his Europe Divided.
‘All this time, though still a layman, he attracted attention by a life of severe holiness, and found himself giving spiritual counsel to troubled souls, mostly women. Not unnaturally, this brought him to the notice of the Inquisition, since both his unauthorised ministry and the character of his group (which included both noblewomen and ex-prostitutes, both given to manifestations of hysteria [sic]) raised totally unfounded suspicions of heterodoxy and immorality.’
Loyola was briefly imprisoned before being cleared of all suspicion, and in 1527 moved to Paris. There he undertook further studies, survived more dire poverty and sickness, and rejected the growing protestant trend. He was fortunate to escape a public flogging for an alleged breach of college discipline, when his college principal listened to his version of events and gave him the benefit of the doubt. During his Paris years he gathered a small band of followers, including Francisco Xavier, who would in years to come be canonised as Saint Francis Xavier. Loyola’s tiny Paris group of seven comprised the core of what would soon be the Jesuit Order, and he trained them through the disciplines in his book, The Spiritual Exercises, about which renowned British historian G.R. Elton remarked:
‘On the face of it, the work is neither very original nor very inspiring... it possesses a total air of practicality, a kind of sober obviousness in an essentially mystic setting which is the secret of its impact on those who for several centuries have come to it prepared to listen and to follow. In form it consists of a detailed and precise course of meditation and study... which the aspirant must undergo in strict sequence and total obedience to the instructor. The student searches his soul for sins and defects, in the process acquires the means for ridding himself of them, meditates on Christ and His passion, and is quite literally made over. The evidence is overwhelming that many who have undergone this training felt themselves to be new men, possessed of a moral strength and capacity for religious experience which they did not know until The Spiritual Exercises called forth the resources of their souls. The pedagogic purpose and success are equally patent: St. Ignatius’ relationship to his disciple is that of teacher and pupil - even drill-sergeant and recruit - rather than of mystical visionary and follower.’
On 15 August 1534 the group of seven assembled in Montmartre where they all took vows of poverty and chastity, as well as to journey to the Holy Land to undertake missionary work there - and to put themselves at the disposal of the Pope. Paul III did not know know it - he was not even pope yet - but the vows Loyola and his followers took that summer would provide him and popes to come with sworn followers who would form a Catholic bulwark against the Reformation, who would teach the young of the Catholic realm to read and write, and would fan out across the world recruiting new faithful in vast numbers from the four corners of the earth, extending the influence of the Catholic Church and the papacy beyond even the worst nightmares of any Luther or Calvin. 
By 1537 the group was in Venice, awaiting transport to Palestine, but the way was blocked by Turkish fleets patrolling the Mediterranean. Their options thinning, the group undertook ordination to the priesthood in Venice, and then moved south towards Rome, to fulfil their vow to place themselves at the disposal of the Pope. 
The little band was just a few miles short of Rome when Loyola experienced a vision which he interpreted as foretelling the blessing of Jesus Christ on their enterprise, and from that point on the group had its name, the Society of Jesus. 
Loyola drafted the articles of the order, which included the resolution ‘to fight under the banner of God in our Society, which we wish to designate with the name of Jesus, and who are willing to serve solely God and his vicar on earth.’ Its goals were ‘propagation of the faith by the ministry of the Word, by spiritual exercises, and by works of charity’, as well as ‘teaching Christianity to children and the uneducated.’ 
Thus, from the very outset the fundamental objectives of the Jesuits were clearly inscribed: total allegiance to the pope, missionary evangelism, and education. The pyramid of unswerving allegiance was not confined to the pope at the top, however, with the members of the new order swearing total obedience to their general, and to serve as “the Pope’s soldiers”. 


The Papal Court was not exactly agog at the possibilities of the little group of travellers when they presented themselves at the Vatican. Arguments for and against ran through the curia for official approval of the new Order, with powerful Cardinal Guidiccioni arguing against, but another power broker, Cardinal Contarini, arguing for them. Although Pope Paul himself publicly favoured approbation, Guidiccioni briefly held sway. With approval initially refused, Loyola and his followers redoubled their efforts, and perhaps sensing which way the wind was blowing, Guidiccioni gave way, and on 27 September 1540 Pope Paul issued the Bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae, approving the founding of the Jesuit Order. No other single act of any pope would have such an significant and enduring effect to reinforce the core strength of the Roman Catholic Church. 
Although their numbers were initially restricted to 60 - the caveat was removed after two years - the Society of Jesus would quickly grow in size and influence, to become one of the most potent entities within the Church. Against his declared wishes, his followers drafted Loyola as the order’s first General in 1541. His war injuries and health were as ever troublesome, and the workload of the new order onerous. After several years in the post he attempted to resign, but his followers would have none of it, and he remained at the head of the Jesuits for a decade and a half, during which the order’s first missionaries undertook initial work in the Americas, India and Africa. 
Early missionaries included Saint Francis Borgia (1510-1572), the great grandson of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. A personal friend of Loyola’s, Francis Borgia undertook missionary work in the Americas, and later rose to become General of the Jesuit order. The order also attracted those, like Loyola himself, who wished to escape from what they felt was a sullied past. Chadwick remarks:
‘The Portuguese Inacio de Azevedo was the son of a priest, the grandson of a bishop, the son and grandson of nuns. When he learned of his birth, he held it to be a fourfold sacrilege, believed himself called to a life of sacrificial reparation, joined the Society of Jesus and its Brazilian mission, and was murdered by pirates in the mid-Atlantic.’
What then is the final judgement of history upon such a man as Ignatius Loyola? Elton is exacting in his judgement, calling him '...one of the most remarkable but also strange personalities of that age or any other. Short, slight, racked by illness, permanently lame after his wound at Pamplona, of limited intelligence and never a scholar, preacher or theologian, Loyola hardly looked an inspiring figure. His passion for system and planning often deteriorated into pedantry and pettifogging regulation. Although he was from his young days addicted to fantasies, substituting after 1521 dreams of knightly service of Christ for dreams of knightly service to ladies without at first seeing any essential difference between the two, his imagination was always rather meagre; he entirely lacked all poetry in the soul. The visions which came to him so frequently during the last thirty-five years of his life, and which he learned to turn off and on at will, were nearly always of the simplest kind - mere phenomena of light such as discs or rays, all of which he unhesitatingly identified as some specific manifestation of the divine. Though, therefore, a mystic, he was the coolest visionary that ever thought himself directly inspired by God.’







*The two volumes of Cervantes’ masterpiece were written in the decades after the death of Loyola, and accounts of the Jesuit founder’s fascination with popular books of knight errantry may have helped inspire Cervantes, along too with popular accounts of the exploits of the Conquistadors in the New World.







From my book Tales of the Popes: From Eden to El Dorado.


http://www.newholland.com.au/product.php?isbn=9781741106664

23 comments:

  1. Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your site by
    chance, and I am surprised why this coincidence didn't came about in advance! I bookmarked it.
    Here is my web-site ... structured settlement purchaser

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was very pleased to find this site. I wanted to thank
    you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!
    ! I definitely appreciated every little bit of it and i also have you saved
    to fav to look at new stuff in your blog.
    Also visit my page : sell structured settlement for cash

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and
    I will be waiting for your further write ups thank
    you once again.

    Here is my blog post - structured settlement annuity

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him.

    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!


    Feel free to visit my blog post buy structured settlement

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent web site you have got here.. It's hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    Also visit my website: receive Structured settlement

    ReplyDelete
  6. Excellent web site you have got here.. It's hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    My webpage receive Structured settlement
    my page > structured settlement broker

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey there, You have done an excellent job. I will certainly digg it
    and personally recommend to my friends. I'm confident they will be benefited from this site.

    Feel free to surf to my web site; corrector de ojeras

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi there! This article could not be written any better!
    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept talking about this. I am going to forward this article to him.
    Pretty sure he's going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    Also visit my web site :: manque de confiance en soi

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi there! This post couldn't be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will send this information to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

    My page ... Sell Structured Settlement

    ReplyDelete
  10. Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover a person that genuinely understands what they are discussing on the web.
    You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people should read this and understand this side of the story.
    It's surprising you're not more popular since you certainly have the gift.


    my blog post - you can check here

    ReplyDelete
  11. Every weekend i used to go to see this web site, for the reason that i wish for enjoyment, for the
    reason that this this web site conations truly good funny
    stuff too.

    Feel free to surf to my web-site check it out

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you are just too great. I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you're saying and
    the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep
    it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a great
    site.

    Here is my web site - vuvox.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. With havin so much content do you ever run into
    any problems of plagorism or copyright violation?
    My blog has a lot of completely unique content I've either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help protect against content from being stolen? I'd truly appreciate
    it.

    Also visit my weblog; http://jenniferlane954.iloveblog.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my web site so i got here to return the
    favor?.I'm trying to in finding issues to improve my site!I guess its ok to make use of a few of your ideas!!

    My web site; helpful site

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excellent web site. A lot of helpful information here.

    I'm sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks on your effort!

    Feel free to visit my web-site :: justinmartin321.skyrock.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you're using? I'm going
    to start my own blog soon but I'm having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for
    something unique. P.S My apologies
    for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    Feel free to surf to my web page http://iraqidinarz12.xanga.com/

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's genuinely very difficult in this busy life to listen news on Television, so I simply use world wide web for that purpose, and get the newest information.

    My page - check over here

    ReplyDelete
  18. I like the helpful info you provide to your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and test again right here frequently.
    I'm fairly sure I will be informed plenty of new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the next!

    my site :: view website

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.

    Is it hard to set up your own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I'm thinking about creating my own but I'm not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? With thanks

    Review my web blog :: try this out

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend
    your site, how can i subscribe for a blog web site?
    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted
    of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

    My website his comment is here

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am not sure where you're getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    My website; eu-unternehmersenat.com

    ReplyDelete