Category Archives: Jesuit History

Today in Catholic History – Ignatius of Loyola and the Battle of Pampeluna

On 20 May 1521, Inigo Lopez de Loyola/Ignatius of Loyola was injured during the Battle of Pampeluna or Pamplona. This battle, between the French supported people of Navarre and the Spanish forces moving to conquer the the Iberian region, saw Ignatius severely wounded by a French cannonball which shattered his leg.

During his recovery, Ignatius occupied his time by reading the only books available to him – a life of Christ by Ludolph of Saxony which was a commentary on the Gospels based on the writings of the Church Fathers and a book on the lives of the saints. These texts inspired in Ignatius a profound religious conversion and upon his recovery he would visit the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat on 25 March 1522, where he would hang his military uniform before an image of the Blessed Mother as a sign that he was now a soldier for Christ.

Later Ignatius would use the ideas of Ludolph of Sazony when he wrote his Spiritual Exercises and establish the Society of Jesus/the Jesuits in 1534.

Ignatius of Loyola


Today in Catholic History – Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ finishes fifteen year sentence in Soviet Union

On 22 April 1955, Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ finished his fifteen year sentence in the Soviet Union’s Gulag and was released to the city of Norilsk, though with restrictions on his movement. He was finally able to write to his sisters in the United States to inform them of his fate, until this time his family and the Jesuits believed him dead.

Fr. Ciszeck had come to the Soviet Union in 1940 disguised as a worker, but in 1941 he was arrested for spying for the Vatican. He spent five years in solitary confinement in one of the Soviet Union’s most notorious prisons before being sent to the GULAG. During his imprisonment, Fr. Ciszek would continue to act as a priest by hearing confessions, celebrating Mass and offering retreats.

He did not return to the United Sates until 1963 and would write an account of his experiences in the book “With God in Russia”.

The Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League

Today in Catholic History – The Trial of Father Henry Garnet, SJ

On 28 March 1606, Jesuit Father Henry Garnet was tried for eleven hours for alleged participation in the Gunpowder Plot to assassinate James I of England/VI of Scotland by blowing up the House of Lords. Though Garnett professed his innocence and claimed that anything he knew of the plot was protected by the seal of the confession, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Father Garnet, SJ was executed on May 3, 1606 by hanging.

After his death, a head of straw with the blood of the Jesuit priest was taken as a relic. Later, the blood was said to have congealed into a likeness of the face of Father Garnet. This straw was later taken to the Jesuits at Li├Ęge but disappeared during the French Revolution.

The book, “A True And Perfect Relation Of The Whole Proceedings Against The Late Most Barbarous Traitors, Garnet A Jesuit And His Confederates” also dating from this same period is said to be bound in the skin of the Jesuit father and his face is said to appear on its cover.

For more on the Gunpowder Plot see this earlier episode of Catholic:Under The Hood

#216 – Matteo Ricci and the Wonderful Clock

Next year is the 400th anniversary of the death of Fr. Matteo Ricci, SJ who became a model of Catholic evangelization. If he had advice for the evangelizers of today, it might be to bring a clock.

Journey to the East – Book on the Jesuit Missions to China
“Weaving a profound dialogue between East and West” from Ignatius Press
“How Rome Went To China” – the missionary work of Matteo Ricci and the Society of Jesus from the Library of Congress
The Clocks of Matteo Ricci – includes very interesting video of a clock that writes in Chinese
Chinese songs written by Matteo Ricci
The Map of Matteo Ricci

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podcasticon#216 – Matteo Ricci and the Wonderful Clock