Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) responded to the Spirit’s promptings in his own time. He lived in a period of great change in European history. He was very much a product of the late Middle Ages, memories of knights and nobility. At the same time he lived to see European expansion throughout the globe, the rise of the commercial class, and resurgence in Christian devotion. He began to listen to how God spoke to him and sought out the traditional ways of his times to gain more clarity. He prayed, fasted, and asked advice of “spiritual people”, all the while attending to the sick and poor. Ultimately it was the careful attention to the movements of the Spirit in his heart and mind that drew him to such clarity.

Ignatius collected his formative experiences of prayer into what became known as his “Spiritual Exercises”. He offered these Exercises to men and women of his time as helpful means for them to attend to God’s call, choosing to live committed lives of Christian service. From among those he gave the exercises there arose a group of “companions” who corporately chose to live in greater availability of service to the Church. These men founded the religious order known as the “Company of Jesus,” colloquially referred to today as the “Jesuits.”
Today Ignatian Spirituality is inspired both by the experience of the Spiritual Exercises and the traditions developed over the past 450 years. The characteristics of Ignatius’ life take on similar and new dimensions as Christians seek to follow his example in their own lives. Some contemporary facets of Ignatian spirituality would include:

    the desire to find the voice of God in and through the ordinary events of the day,
    the understanding of oneself as an agent of change in the world,
    a commitment to a life of faith that is evidenced by a life of justice,
    outreach to members of society who are often marginalized or dispossessed.

During his period of convalescence in 1521, Ignatius read a series of religious texts, on the life of Jesus[13][14] and on the lives of the saints; he became fired with an ambition to lead a life of self-denying labour and to emulate the heroic deeds of Francis of Assisi and other great monastics. He resolved to devote himself to the conversion of non-Christians in the Holy Land. Upon recovery, he visited the Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat (March 25, 1522), where he hung his military vestments before an image of the Virgin. He then traveled to the town of Manresa, Catalonia and spent several months in a cave near where he practiced rigorous asceticism. Ignatius also began seeing a series of visions in full daylight while in hospital. These repetitive visions appeared as "a form in the air near him and this form gave him much consolation because it was exceedingly beautiful ... it somehow seemed to have the shape of a serpent and had many things that shone like eyes, but were not eyes. He received much delight and consolation from gazing upon this object ... but when the object vanished he became disconsolate." [15] In 1523, he instituted a pilgrimage to the Holy Land on a path of self denial and sacrifice. He briefly remained from September 3 to 23 but was not permitted to stay.

Twelve years later, standing before the Pope with his companions, he again proposed sending his companions as emissaries to Jerusalem.Returning to Spain, he and his companions were occupied in Alcala with the task of making disciples of women called as witnesses by the Inquisition under the direction of magistrate Alonso Mejias. Although the alumbrados [Illuminated; Illuminati; Enlightened Ones] of Spain were linked in their zeal and spirituality to the Franciscan reforms of which Cardinal de Cisneros was a promoter," the administrators of the Inquisition had mounting suspicions. These female disciples, Dona Leo, Dona Maria, and Dona Beatriz were so hysterically zealous that "one fell senseless, another sometimes rolled about on the ground, another had been seen in the grip of convulsions or shuddering and sweating in anguish." This suspicious activity had taken place while Ignatius and his companions were regularly preaching in public. Because of his "street-corner perorations" being identified "with the activities of the alumbrados," Ignatius was naturally singled out for inspection as one of these visionaries; however he was later released.[17] After these adventurous activities, he studied at the ascetic Collège de Montaigu of the University of Paris, where he remained over seven years. In later life, he was often called "Master Ignatius". This title was due to his taking a master's degree from the before-mentioned university at the age of forty-three.[18]

By 1534 he had gathered six key companions, all of whom he met as fellow students at the University— Francis Xavier, Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laynez, and Nicholas Bobadilla, all Spanish; Peter Faber, a Frenchman; and Simão Rodrigues of Portugal. Later he was joined by Francisco de Borja, a member of the House of Borgia who was the main aide of Emperor Charles V, and other nobles. "On the morning of the 15th of August, 1534, in the crypt of the Church of Our Lady of the Martyrs, at Montmartre, Loyola and his six companions, of whom only one was a priest, met and took upon themselves the solemn vows of their lifelong work." [18] Ignatius of Loyola was the main creator and initial Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a religious organization of the Catholic Church whose members, known as Jesuits, served the Pope as missionaries. He is remembered as a talented spiritual director. He was very vigorous in opposing the Protestant Reformation and promoting the following Counter-Reformation. He was beatified and then canonized and received the title of Saint on March 12, 1622. He is the patron saint of the provinces of Guipuscoa and Biscay along with the Society of Jesus. Ignatius Loyola wrote Spiritual Exercises, a simple 200-page set of meditations, prayers, and various other mental exercises, from 1522 to 1524. The exercises of the book were designed to be carried out over a period of 28–30 days.