The ordination of Ignatius of Loyola

Patrick H. Daly

The Year for Priests launched last June by Archbishop Bernard Longley has focused on the vocation story of each individual priest working within the Diocese. Patrick H. Daly, parish priest of Caversham, Diocese of Birmingham, continues a series on the priestly ordination of men whose vocation stories have impacted on the life of the wider Church. Fewer have had a greater influence on our understanding of what it means to be a priest than the author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Jesuits.

Ignatius of Loyola was canonised a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622, almost seventy years after his death. In the years immediately preceding his beatification in 1609 by Pope Paul V and in the subsequent lead-up to his canonisation, the Jesuits sought to make their founder as widely known as possible and his image immediately recognisable throughout the Church, not least in the colleges and churches run by themselves. Engravings and prints of Master Ignatius in black cassock, cape and biretta abound,1 yet the most significant iconic image of the author of the Spiritual Exercises was that produced, doubtless under the specific instructions of Father James Tirinus, rector of the Jesuit church in Antwerp, by Peter Paul Rubens.

The great Flemish painter who, together with his Antwerp studio, had a particular talent for depicting saints, fashioned the Ignatius who was to shape the profile not only of the Jesuit priest of the Baroque era but who, more than any other, embodied all the ideals of the ‘reformed’ priesthood of the Catholic/Counter-Reformation.

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