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Ignatius of Loyola and the Converso Question

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Chapter Summary

Ignatius's desire to be of Jewish stock comes from the testimony of Diego de Guzmán, which was included in his letter to Superior General Claudio Acquaviva. He refers there to a Jew who served Pope Paul III and entered Loyola's community of catechumens. Jesuit historians suggest that Ignatius's methanoia was due to his lack of contact with Jews. This might be true, if one does not take into consideration crypto-Jews and conversos. Loyola was born just before 1492, the terminus post quem, when no Jews were allowed in Spain. In his story of Loyola's interrogation in Alcalá, Polanco employed a rhetorical device to suggest development to his fellow Jesuits, from whom he suffered discrimination because of his own converso background. He wrote this text during the last two years of his life, after he was removed from his office in 1573 as part of Superior General Mercurian's anti-converso "house cleansing".

Keywords: Ignatius; Jesuits; Jew; Loyola; Polanco



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