Ignatius face 2

Ignatius lived an eventful life during an eventful time. In the early 1500s Christianity was in turmoil as Marin Luther and Jean Calvin challenged Church doctrine and authority, and the wars of Emperor Charles V ravaged Europe. One of these wars left Ignatius badly wounded, leading to a long convalescence and a subsequent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Eventually he would found a new religious order named the Society of Jesus, reinvigorating the Church at a tumultuous time and helping to bring Christianity to new frontiers. By the time of his death in 1556, there were more than 1,000 Jesuits working across the globe.

The videos and recommended readings below provide a short sketch of the life of Ignatius Loyola. The three featured videos offer a simple introduction, with the first video giving the most detailed look at his life. Below these are recommended readings as well as a few resources for the intermediate and advanced levels.

For a quick overview of Ignatius's life, click the image above to see a timeline from Jesuits.org.


For a short biography of Ignatius, see Adrian Porter, S.J., “Ignatius of Loyola: The Man and His Spirit.”  See also Norman O’Neal, “A Life of Ignatius of Loyola.

For those already familiar with the basic contours of Ignatius’s life, check out the following resources:

  • A feature-length film by the Filipino Jesuits entitled “Ignatius of Loyola” (2016). The film begins with Ignatius’s childhood and follows his life through his studies in Spain and interrogation before the Inquisition.
  • A 23-minute video by a Jesuit scholar who provides a tour of Ignatius’s living quaters in Rome.
  • The autobiography of St. Ignatius.
To learn even more about the early history of the Jesuits, the leading expert in this area is John O’Malley. His book, The First Jesuits, is probably too ambitious to tackle at one sitting, but strongly recommended is his article “The Distinctiveness of the Society of Jesus,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 3:1 (2016): 1-16. For those wanting a bit more without having to read the full-length monograph, see O’Malley’s condensed version: The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present (2014), which is only 117 pages long.