St. Ignatius of Loyola

July 31, 2012

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. In celebration of this special feast day (Georgetown University is a Jesuit institution), we wanted to share this selection from Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year that highlights St. Ignatius.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in his family’s castle, near Azpeitia, in Spain’s Basque country, sometime before October 23, 1491. As a youth, he served (1506?-17) as a page to Juan Velazquez de Cuellar, King Ferdinand V’s chief treasurer, and there he learned his courtly manners. In 1517, he entered the service of the Duke of Najera, Viceroy of Navarre, and while defending the fortress at Pamplona was wounded (May 20, 1521) by a cannon shot. He convalesced at Loyola Castle, and by reading a life of Christ as well as those of the saints, he experienced a conversion and resolved to visit the Holy Land and serve the Lord.

On his way to the Holy Land, he stopped at the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat, and there he made a night’s vigil (March 24-25, 1522) before the Black Madonna. He then went on to nearby Manresa and spent about eleven months in prayer and penance. After a brief visit to Rome to request papal approval for his pilgrimage, he left Venice and arrived in Jerusalem on September 4, 1523. Less than a month later, he left to return to Venice. He then made his way to Barcelona to begin his studies “in order to help souls.” After studies in Barcelona (1524-26), Alcala (1526-27), and Salamanca (1527), Ignatius went to the University of Paris (1528-35), and there he gathered a group of six like-minded men. On August 15, 1534, in a Montmartre chapel, the small band of seven took a vow to go to Jerusalem within a year after their studies, if this were possible, and work for the conversion of the Turks. After their arrival in Venice (1537), they learned that they could not sail for the Holy Land because of imminent war; hence, they went (November 1567) to Rome and offered (November 18-23, 1538) their services to Pope Paul III.

After Ignatius and his first companions decided to form a new religious congregation, their plans received Paul III’s approval (September 27, 1540), and thus the Society of Jesus was born. Ignatius was then elected general and accepted the office on April 19, 1541; on April 22, in a ceremony at St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, the six pronounced their vows as Jesuits. As a general of the new order, Ignatius remained in Rome, wrote its Constitutions, and supervised the Society’s growth, not only in Italy, but in the other countries of Europe as well. He likewise sent missionaries to India. Because of the excessive acts of penance he had practiced while at Manresa, his health had been severely impaired. St. Ignatius died in Rome on July 31, 1556, and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. His Spiritual Exercises had been first approved by Pope Paul III on July 31, 1548, and on July 25, 1922, Pope Pius XI named him heavenly patron of all Spiritual Exercises.

Interested in learning more? As Georgetown University is a Jesuit institution, St. Ignatius of Loyola’s order features importantly in the three-volume A History of Georgetown University. Another book by Georgetown University Press that reflects on the Society of Jesus is Reverse Mission, a work that looks at religious orders’ influence on US foreign policy.


A History of Georgetown University

November 23, 2010

The discovery and imparting of knowledge are the essential undertakings of any university. Such purposes determined John Carroll, SJ’s modest and surprisingly ecumenical proposal to establish an academy on the banks of the Potomac for the education of the young in the early republic. What began earnestly in 1789 still continues today: the idea of Georgetown University as a Catholic university situated squarely in the American experience.

Beautifully designed with over 300 illustrations and photographs, A History of Georgetown University tells the remarkable story of the administrators, faculty, students, and programs that have made Georgetown a leading institution of higher education. With a keen eye for detail, historian Robert Emmett Curran—a member of the Georgetown community for over three decades—explores the broader perspective of Georgetown’s sense of identity and its place in American culture.

Volume One traces Georgetown’s evolution during its first century, from its beginnings as an academy within the American Catholic community of the Revolutionary War era through its flowering as a college before the Civil War to its postbellum achievements as a university. Volume Two highlights the efforts of administrators and faculty over the next seventy-five years to make Georgetown an ascending and increasingly diverse institution with a range of graduate programs and professional schools. Volume Three examines Georgetown’s remarkable rise to prominence as an internationally recognized research university—both culturally engaged and cosmopolitan while remaining grounded in its Catholic and Jesuit character. Each volume features numerous illustrations, photographs, and appendices that include student demographics, enrollments, and lists of board members.

About the Author:
Robert Emmett Curran is a professor emeritus of history at Georgetown University, where he served as a faculty member for 32 years. He currently resides, with his wife Eileen, in Richmond, Kentucky.


A Library Review for Washingtonians

October 20, 2010

Those in the D.C. area are welcome to join us for an event next Thursday, October 28th, from 4:30-6:00pm, at Georgetown’s Lauinger Library.  Hosted by Georgetown University Library Associates and Georgetown University Press, the event features talks by John J. Glavin, Professor of English, R. Emmett Curran, Professor Emeritus of History, and James J. O’Donnell, Professor of Classics and Provost. The speakers will address the past, present, and future of Lauinger Library to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The event will also launch A History of Georgetown University, a publication by Georgetown University Press. For more information and to rsvp, click here.


Georgetown University Reunion Weekend with GU Press, part two

June 7, 2010

This past weekend was Georgetown University’s Reunion Weekend. To celebrate, earlier we brought you a Q&A with Emmett Curran, author of the three-volume A History of Georgetown University and expert on all things Georgetown. Today, we wanted to close out the weekend with 12 Little-Known Facts about Georgetown University from the same author.

1. 1789 as a founding date originated in a mistake.
When the university published its first catalogue in 1851, it claimed that “in 1789 the first house was built,” when actually, construction of the first building began in 1788 and was completed in 1790. This misinformation was repeated until the catalogue of 1873 substituted the founding of the institution for the erection of the first building. And so, “founded in 1789” became the standard account of the institution’s beginnings—a serendipitous date, which made Georgetown’s birth year the same as that of the Republic.

2. Georgetown had an international student body from its beginnings.
During the first decade of its existence, nearly 20 percent of its students came from outside the United States, mostly from the West Indies.

3. Among major benefactors of the institution, from the 1800s to the 1960s, women predominated.
In the 1830s, Susan Decatur, the widow of Stephen Decatur, donated $7,000 to the College—the largest gift in Georgetown’s first 40 years of existence. Elizabeth Dahlgren’s gift of $30,000 in the 1890s to build a chapel was the largest benefaction the university had known to that date. In the following decade, Ida Ryan was the principal donor to the university by providing the funds for the construction of a residence/dining hall and a gymnasium. Finally, in 1966, Florence M. Dailey made Georgetown the beneficiary of a legacy worth $9,600,000—nearly as much as its entire endowment at the time. Read the rest of this entry »


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