Taking a Journey Through the Land of St. Ignatius

Taking a Journey Through the Land of St. Ignatius

May trip an opportunity to visit the native soil of Jesuits' founder

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Members of the Boston College community will have the opportunity this spring to follow in the geographic and spiritual footsteps of a major figure in world religion, whose teachings still resonate throughout the University.

Rev. Julio Giulietti, SJ, director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality.
Rev. Julio Giulietti, SJ, director of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and Thomas Kane, CSP, of the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, will lead a group of faculty, staff and alumni on a May pilgrimage to the Basque region of Spain to experience the spiritual vitality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

"I know how meaningful it will be for the Boston College community to see how this particular land and the sites within it affected Ignatius Loyola's own personal and spiritual development," Fr. Giulietti said. "[University President William P. Leahy, SJ] agreed it would be wonderful to offer this trip to the Boston College community, and he gave me his full support."

Fr. Giulietti said that the May 22-31 trip will include visits to Barcelona, Manresa, Montserrat, Pamplona, Loyola and Bilbao - important sites in the geographic and spiritual life of St. Ignatius - and Javier, the birthplace of St. Francis Xavier, another Jesuit whose life had a profound effect on the society's far-ranging missionary influence.

The pilgrimage is more than a tour through the Spanish countryside, Fr. Giulietti said. "We will get a sense of where Ignatius moved and how he became part of the culture. But it was not just the places that inspired Ignatius, as beautiful as they may be. We will also use the days for a gentle involvement with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, the same process that he himself lived.

"We will have time for personal reflection," he said. "There will be a prayerful component to our trip. We will trace how Ignatius' experience might reflect on our own lives."

During the 16th century, the young Ignatius served in the court of a Spanish king until his right leg was severely injured by a cannonball blast. "He was brought home to Loyola Castle, and expected to die," Fr. Giulietti said, "but a funny thing happened: He recovered and found himself with a great deal of time on his hands."

During his 18-month convalescence, Ignatius took to reading the lives of the saints, and was inspired by Francis Assisi and Dominic who had discovered peace by giving their lives to Christ, according to Fr. Giulietti.

"Ignatius thought, 'My whole life I have been looking for an earthly king to serve. But how much better would it be to serve the divine King,'" Fr. Giulietti said.

Ignatius spent a period of personal contemplation and reflection in a small cave in Manresa, near the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat, Fr. Giulietti said. "He would go to the monastery to attend Mass and to seek spiritual direction. He knew then that he wanted to do great things with his life. But he did not know what to do at that time.

"This was the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatius' great change of heart and mind," he said.

"The Basque region will be magnificent in May," Fr. Giulietti said. "We will see the natural splendors that soothed Ignatius as he passed through his own spiritual and physical wounds."

Among the stops during the pilgrimage will be a three-day stay at the Arrupe Residence Hotel in Loyola, which will be opened a week early to accommodate the visit of the Boston College group, Fr. Giulietti said.

Additional information on the trip is available at the center's Web site: www.bc.edu/igspirit.


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