JUBILEES OF SAINTS IGNATIUS, XAVIER AND FAVRE

JUBILEES OF SAINTS IGNATIUS, XAVIER AND FAVRE  

The earthly journey of Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) ended 450 years ago with his death in a small house in the heart of Rome. Together with a group of eight companions called 'friends of the Lord', he was unanimously recognized as the founder and creator of the Society of Jesus. His anniversary coincides with the commemoration of the 5th centenary of the birth of the two other 'friends of the Lord': Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) and Blessed Pierre Favre (1506-1546). All three represent a unique characteristic of the Society of Jesus. In a small house in the centre of Rome, Ignatius of Loyola spent the last 16 years of his life, marked by mystical experiences, encouraging and governing through his letters (numbering over 7,000) the increasing numbers of Jesuits spread throughout the world. Francis Xavier, patron of missions, represents in particular the apostolic zeal of the Society, founded to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel throughout the world in every mission entrusted to it by the Pope. Daring, courageous and ready to face dangers on land or sea to 'save souls', he was betrayed by merchants and political leaders and died 'happy and poor' at the age of 46 as he gazed on the mountains of China where his apostolic work flourished. Pierre Favre was the famed spiritual director of both well and lesser known people from around Europe. At the age of 40, he died in Rome, exhausted from his constant travels around Europe which were to have taken him to Northern Italy where the Pope had invited him as a theologian to the Council of Trent. The commemoration of these first three of the nine Jesuit companions is linked to the birth of the Society of Jesus approved by the Pope in 1540 to serve the Lord and his bride, the Church, under the direction of the Roman Pontiff, at a time marked by spiritual upheaval.