03 August 2016
We would now diagnose the 1522 Ignatius as being an at-risk self-harmer
I may be the only Jesuit who will tell you this, but St Ignatius Loyola, whose feast day we celebrated on 31 July, was an obsessive-compulsive neurotic nut. That’s not fair, of course, because he was also a brilliant, insightful and deeply holy mystic. However, some of his behaviour demonstrates that my comment is neither facetious nor unwarranted.
I want to take you back to a cave beside the River Cardoner at Manresa, Spain, in 1522, where, after dedicating his life to God, Ignatius became a penitent. This was where he had his best and worst days. For months, he whipped himself three times a day, wore an iron girdle, fasted on bread and water which he begged and slept very little.
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