The Spiritual Exercises
Early in February 1522, a pilgrim set out from his family's stronghouse in the rugged Basque mountains of northern Spain. He limped eastwards toward the Holy Land at the start of a journey that continues today.
Iñigo Lopez de Loyola became famous as St Ignatius Loyola and his companions as the Jesuits. The story of how he came to begin his pilgrimage and where it eventually took him has become a model for members of the Catholic religious order he helped found as well as for countless other pilgrims.
Perhaps his most lasting contribution to the Church is the small handbook he wrote to explain his method of leading people through an organised programme of prayer and reflection. Today people know this method as the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. He developed this method of prayer by reflecting on his own experience of God and by speaking with anyone else he could find. These conversations continued throughout his life; through them the experience of many men and women also contributed to the spiritual guide he developed. From these conversations came the carefully worked-out way of trying to discover what God asks of an individual.