This week, Catholics celebrate the lives of two great founders:
- Thursday, July 31, is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Ignatius was first a soldier of Spain; but he took a cannonball in the leg, requiring several surgeries and a lengthy recuperation. During the months when he was bedridden, Ignatius read the lives of the saints; and deeply moved by their piety and their example, he resolved to be instead a soldier for Christ. He founded the Society of Jesus.
- And Friday, August 1, is the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists. Alphonsus was the oldest of seven children born in a pious family. He earned his doctorate by age 16 and embarked on a career in law; but he was not satisfied with worldly success and began instead serving at a hospital for those with incurable diseases. He had a vision and founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, joined in the celebration on Thursday–paying an impromptu visit to the General Curia of the Society of Jesus, sharing a meal and relaxing with his fellow Jesuits. He had the opportunity to meet with seven brothers and sisters of Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, who was kidnapped a year ago in Syria.
According to Lebanon’s Daily Star,
Francis told the Jesuit superior, the Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, only at the last minute that he wanted to join, and was driven down the block to the Jesuit headquarters in his blue Ford Focus for the visit.
Best wishes for a happy feast day to both the Jesuits and the Redemptorists.