The Sovereign Pontiff – the first Jesuit Pope in history – wishes to visit Spain in 2022, half a millennium after the conversion of St. Ignatius of Loyola, illustrious founder of the Society of Jesus. This visit would be the first to the Iberian Peninsula for the Argentine Pope.
It is in the Spanish edition of the magazine Il mio papa, for the month of October 2020, that Pope Francis confided his desire to follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius, in particular in Manrese, where the founder of the Jesuits received from the Virgin Mary the revelation of the famous Spiritual Exercises, which are one of the glories of the Order.
“I believe that the conversion of St. Ignatius… can invite us to reflect on our personal conversion, to ask for the gift of conversion to love, and to serve more in the manner of Jesus Christ,” declared the successor of Peter.
It was in 1521 that the life of Inigo Lopez de Loyola took a decisive turn: the shards of a simple cannon ball wounded his leg, putting an end to the military career of the future saint.
After a long recovery, marked by reading the Life of Jesus by Ludolph the Carthusian, the ex-officer decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
On the road, Ignatius made a stopover on March 25, 1522 in a cave, near the village of Manrèse, where, struck by grace, he remained for several months, practicing the most rigorous asceticism. It was there that began a blinding spiritual ascent lasting until his death on July 31, 1556.
The Holy See—perhaps taken by surprise by the interview with the Sovereign Pontiff—has not commented, at this time, on the possibility of an apostolic trip to the places that marked the life of the founder of the Company of Jesus.
This trip would be a first for the Argentine Pope, to a Spanish land where sixty percent of the country’s forty-seven million inhabitants declare themselves Catholic.
Since January 2020, the Spain of very Catholic kings has been ruled by a clearly anticlerical far-left coalition, which has stepped up its actions against Catholicism.