A bit of a dandy. That's what they would have said about young "Anigo" as I he pranced around his Spanish castle, festooned in mock armor, polishing his aristocratic sword and yearning for the battle that would transform him from a young boy into an honored soldier. Soon, even the name became too colloquial and he would adopt the moniker "Ignatius", as when you are the youngest of 13 siblings you'll do anything to stand out. Picture a cocky young Chris Pine in the movie version. "Hello ladies...."
Thirty years in the making his soldiering days came to an ignominious end as his leg caught the wrong end of a cannonball. Broken in three places, he was confined to bed-rest to recoup, a career in ruins. recuperating in his family's palace, not so young Ignatius would have been unbearable to attend to. "Fetch this, Fetch that, Got anything to read..."
According to his loving sister whose task it was to care for him, the only book written in Spanish at the entire Loyola homestead was a volume entitled "Jesus of Nazareth"... hehehehe... I bet she was lying. But with only one novel to read and months of bed rest ahead, Ignatius became captivated by the main character of the text. Jesus, the ultimate peaceful warrior who would expose himself to the world and while bleeding to death on a cross only ask forgiveness for his persecutors. Frosty.
Soon Ignatius would rise with his life's mission changed from fighter to street preacher. The next step was to attend University studying the great works and scripture. "What did you say, I need to know Latin, you're kidding right." Apparently not. Now the scene changes from drama to farce as a Spanish nobleman pretends to be a 15 year old Grammar student in an attempt to pass the entrance exam. The guy has spirit. The University of Paris takes notice.
It was in Paris that Ignatius became the leader he was meant to be, and along with a handful of idealistic comrades they form the "Society of Jesus". They begin counselling each other, graduate to fellow students and soon hit the streets chatting to anyone in need of help. Their flock expands. Soon the self proclaimed, Society of Jesus, adds seminaries where young people can study scripture, these informal gatherings become what would be known today as schools. Afterwards the Jesuits were being called to take all manner of children into their seminaries and found a multitude of schools. Ignatius visits the Pope to see if it was all right to do so, "Sure boys, just don't get into any kind of trouble..." was the reply.
Today the small society begun at the University of Paris in 1534 and officially formed in 1540 upon the Pope's blessing, has been responsible for starting schools in dozens of countries with 28 college and universities in the United States alone. In many ways the foundations of the modern school system was brought to mankind by the Jesuits. A fantastic legacy.
If there is a moral to this story it has likely escaped my mind, but I am struck with how often in history a person develops skills in one area, but then changes course simply by listening to what they are being called to do. It is a voice we should listen to more frequently. No?