There is a little known “miracle” attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola. It happened in 1602 in the very town of Manresa in Spain where Ignatius had spent those crucial months (1522-1523) living in a cave undergoing that phenomenal experience that would one day be the Spiritual Exercises.
A 14-year-old girl by the name of Inés Dalmau had been sent by her mother to buy a chicken for the afternoon meal. As she was returning home from the store, the chicken got loose, fell in a well, and drowned. Afraid of how her mother would react, she prayed to the soldier Ignatius for his intercession, pleading for his help. Lo and behold, the chicken resurrected.
Now, I am almost certain that the resurrection of farm animals was not the miracle that clinched our founder’s canonization. It wasn’t his fowl saving abilities that motivated Pope Gregory XV to have July 31, the day of Ignatius’ death, proclaimed universally as the day he strolled in through the pearly gates. Nor do I suggest that any pilgrimage that follows the steps of Ignatius from Loyola to Barcelona require a visit to the “Pozo de la Gallina” in Manresa. But I do think that the seemingly humorous account says a lot about the popularity of the soldier saint.
Did you know that there were over 160 miracles attributed to the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola by the time he was canonized in 1622? When we think about the fact that his sainthood was recognized just 65 years after his death, we can only marvel at the impact he had on the Church.
Unquestionably, Ignatius’ popularity was garnered by his greatest legacy, the Spiritual Exercises. This extraordinary experience is what actually gave rise to the Society of Jesus, formulated the Ignatian pedagogy that has guided thousands of schools and universities around the world, and fueled the religious conviction of hundreds of holy saints and courageous martyrs. Having created the ultimate exercise to encounter the person of Jesus Christ, leading to a surrender of one’s life to him, is the greatest of Ignatius’ miracles.
So, we should not be surprised that today, over 460 years after his death, the Church is still reaping the great fruits of our founder’s miracle. We should not be surprised that after centuries of numerous trials and tribulations, not only for his congregation but for the Church, his name still echoes, his Exercises are still exercised, and his advice is still heeded.
On this special day, I would like to express especially warm congratulations and blessings on the boys of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and their families. I pray that for all of you, this day be an opportunity to celebrate our faith, our spirituality, and our Church. May the Lord’s grace, through the intercessions of our Lady of Belen and her son Ignatius of Loyola, strengthen your commitment and raise your hope (and your chickens).
Fr. Willie ‘87The Belen Jesuit, Regis House, Gesu and Agrupación Católica Universitaria communities invite you to celebrate mass in honor of the St. Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola on Friday, July 31 at 7:00 p.m. Click here to watch the live stream of the Mass.