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Introduction: The Quest for the Historical Ignatius

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Chapter Summary

Ignatius of Loyola founded perhaps the most influential modern Catholic religious order. He was baptized Íñigo as Christopher Columbus was getting ready for his first transatlantic voyage and the so-called Catholic Monarchs were preparing an edict expelling their Jewish subjects. Ignatius's spirituality quickly crossed the borders of the Society of Jesus itself to influence other religious congregations, especially women's orders. Scholars of Ignatius are today in a better position than scholars who study the historical Jesus but still far from being able to reconstruct the real Ignatius, for his disciples and followers, and after them artists, writers, and historians, have anxiously hurried to cover him with so many layers of theological and rhetorical paint that it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to discern history from myth in Loyola's life.

Keywords: Catholic monarchs; Ignatius of Loyola; religious congregations; Society of Jesus

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