St. Ignatius was born in the town of Loyola in Cantabria. He spent his early years in the court and in the military. He was forced to give up a promising military career after receiving a hit in the leg from a cannon ball. While he was recovering in the hospital, the only reading available to him was religious reading focusing on the life of Christ and the lives of various saints.
his reading sparked a conversion in Ignatius and he began to study theology in Paris, later moving to Rome to continue his studies. In 1534, Ignatius and 6 other men banded together vowing to live in poverty, chastity and obedience, while also having a special vow to serve the pope. This group grew and was approved as the Society of Jesus by Pope Paul III.
This society was instrumental in the years of the Counter Reformation and did much to combat ignorance and abuse. The motto of the order is "ad majorem Dei gloriam", for the greater glory of God.
During his lifetime Ignatius also wrote and instructed his followers. One of his most known books, Spiritual Exercises, is still used as a source for instruction in prayer. He exercised a most fruitful apostolate both by his written works and in the training of his disciples who won great praise for their renewal of the Church. Ignatius died in Rome in the year 1556. Ignatius is the patron of soldiers and retreatants.