On July 31st, 2023, as the Universal Church marked the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits; Mgr Rafiq Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, presided over a Mass at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Jerusalem
The Mass was concelebrated by Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, bishop emeritus, the superior of the Jesuit community of the house, and a few priests. Among the assembly was Mr. René Troccaz, Consul General of France.
In his homily, Mgr Nahra stressed the recent difficulties that have plagued the local church and the faithful of the Holy Land on a social and political level. Referring to the Gospel reading from Luke 14, he invited the faithful to always be ready to face these trial tribulations with a steadfast heart and eyes fixed on Christ, our confidence. This year's celebration marks the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius' pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The Life of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Born in 1491, into a noble family in Guipuzcoam, Spain. He served as a page in the Spanish court of Ferdinand and Isabella. He then became a soldier in the Spanish army and wounded his leg during the siege of Pamplona in 1521. During his recuperation, he read “Lives of the Saints”, which led to his conversion, and dedicated himself to the Catholic faith.
After making a general confession, St, Ignatius spend some time in solitude, during which he wrote his well-known “Spiritual Exercises” often used for retreats and individual discernment.
His wisdom, virtue, and holy lifestyle were a point of attraction for many, leading to the birth of the Society of Jesus, which was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. The Jesuits are known for their remarkable obedience to the Pope. They are mostly found in universities and colleges worldwide.
St. Ignatius died on July 31, 1556, got beatified in 1609, and canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.