Ignatius of Loyola was first a soldier from a noble family who fought for the Duke of Navarre. It was only while recovering from a serious wound that he came to understand the spiritual meaning of suffering and dedicated his life to Christ. The Jesuit order he founded demanded an unprecedented degree of education, obedience, and sacrifice, and was enormously influential in turning the tide of the reformation in Europe.
ST. IGNATIUS GREETING ST. FRANCIS BORGIA ON HIS ARRIVAL IN ROME.
We know with what enthusiasm children read and ponder over the lives of those whose characters and deeds have won their admiration. They have even a way of identifying themselves with the personalities of their heroes, and of repeating in imagination their achievements nor is it so unfrequent for this early cultivation of ideals to exercise a determining influence on the shaping of their after-lives. It is thus, in fact, that in no small measure the great men and women of a nation are fashioned to their future calling, Very similar, in the spiritual sphere, is the influence exercised on young people religiously brought up by the Lives of the Saints. Catholic children are particularly fond of this kind of reading. They realize vividly that the Saints are now reigning in heaven, and can watch over them and guide there; just as, according to the Psalmist, do their guardian angels. Hence they make them their mental companions, put trust in their intercessions, seek to assimilate their special spirit, cherish their favourite maxims, and strive in their humbler way to imitate some of their actions. Children are not all alike, and, save for a few chosen souls, their imitation necessarily falls far short of the pattern set. Still the practice is at all times elevating and sustaining, and is a powerful instrument for their spiritual education.
But that Lives of the Saints may appeal thus, to the young, they must in written in a special stye. They must not be too complex or suhjective, and even the attempt to be complete in giving all the facts, and tracing analytically the growth of purpose and achievement may be overdone. What young people like best, and what is best for them, is to have the human interest and spiritual beauty of the Saint's life brought out in their relation to a succession of its most salient incidents, these being told in simple but pictorial language. It is on these principles that the short lives which are to form the present series have been undertaken by a writer who knows the tastes of Catholic youth.
The life which stands at the head of the projected list, and occupies these pages, is one that lends itself well to this mode of treatment. For it is the Life of the Soldier-Saint who, through meditation on the life of his Divine Master, was led to exchange an earthly for a heavenly warfare, and became, in Newman's words, the "St. George of modern history"; of the Father of a long line of spiritual posterity, whose zeal in the Church's service is acknowledged, and whose methods and motives, though often misunderstood, are conformed to the pattern of their Founder.