Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the canonization of St Ignatius of Loyola

March 12, 2022

“He who goes about to reform the world must begin with himself, or he loses his labour.”

These are the words of Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola, a vainglorious Spanish courtier preoccupied with women, gambling and fighting. After sustaining a horrific injury at the Battle of Pamplona (1521) where he nearly lost his leg, Iñigo experienced a profound spiritual conversion that would change him forever, and the world.

Having forsaken his old life, Ignatius (as he became known), would later found the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), which is now the largest Catholic religious order in the world. He wrote The Spiritual Exercises, which is considered to be the foundational text of Ignatian Spirituality and has been a pathway for many seeking to understand the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Less than a century after his death, Ignatius was made a saint by Pope Gregory XV.

On Saturday 12th March 2022, we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the canonization of this great Jesuit saint at St Ignatius Church in Stamford Hill, London, along with that of his companion in mission, St Francis Xavier, as well as St Teresa of Avila, St and Philip Neri.

Auxiliary Bishop Nicholas Hudson from the Diocese of Westminster was the principal celebrant, with Fr Damian Howard SJ (Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain) welcoming a diverse crowd which included religious sisters from Ignatian-inspired congregations, representatives of Jesuit schools in the UK (students and teachers), benefactors to the Society of Jesus, and lay staff from across the British Jesuit Province.

There was a reception after the Mass, and guests were encouraged to explore two exhibition rooms, one devoted to the canonization and the St Ignatius Story Box, and the other featuring art works created by students from Jesuit schools for the Switch Art Competition. In the hallway of the reception area, there was a timeline of events from this Ignatian Year (May 2021 - July 2022). If you would like to explore these events for yourself, please visit the Ignatian Year page on our website here.

Photos by Weenson Andrew Oo

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