On 20 May 1521, a soldier named Ignatius of Loyola was wounded in the battle of Pamplona. Having been struck by a cannonball, his leg was severely damaged. As a long period of convalescence followed, the injured soldier realised that his career was over, and his future was uncertain. He passed the time reading the Vita Christi (Life of Christ) and a book on the lives of the saints. Ignatius’s physical injury created an opportunity for self-reflection and spiritual healing. The soldier went on to adopt the life of a pilgrim: journeying with the poor and marginalised, learning to see all things new in Christ.
To celebrate his life, Fr Arturo Sosa SJ has called for an Ignatian Year, which will officially begin on 20 May 2021, the day that marks the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’s conversion, and end on 31 July 2022, St. Ignatius’s feast day.
The year will respond to the Universal Apostolic Preferences, announced in 2019 and will continue until 2029, which reflects the Society of Jesus’s dedication to respond to some of the world’s most urgent needs. Fr Sosa presented four areas of Jesuit intervention to Pope Francis, and among them was a commitment “to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.”
In this area, Fr Sosa emphasised the need to accompany displaced persons, refugees, and victims of wars and human trafficking; to defend the culture and the dignified existence of indigenous peoples. The Ignatian Year is a call to the Society and members of the wider Ignatian family—lay people, religious women and men, members of the dioceses, and those from other beliefs or human convictions—to recognise our shared humanity and to improve the lives of marginalised people throughout the world.
St. Ignatius’s life and conversion mirrors the struggles of forcibly displaced people; those whose dreams have been destroyed by “cannonballs” and forced into a life of uncertainty. The Ignatian Year is a period of internal renewal, a time for the conversion of hearts and minds. To work together as one human family for a more just world, so that marginalised people can gain dignity and determine their own futures.