June 24th 1537 - Ordination in Venice
Easter was the usual date to get in Rome permission for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On March 16th the companions set out to Rome to ask for the Pope's pilgrim blessing. Ignatius stayed in Venice. At Palm Sunday, March 25th, they arrived in Rome and found lodging in the national hospices.
After they had taken part in the liturgy of the Passion Week, the young magistri were surprisingly invited by Pope Paul III into the Angel Castle to a theological dispute. During the meal, in the presence of cardinals, bishops and theologians the pope let them deliver their theological opinions. The pope was very satisfied. They received not only the pilgrimage certificate, but also the canonical permission for their ordination. With rich alms of the pope and several members of the curia (total 260 ducats) and happy about so much success they returned at the beginning of May to Venice.
In the month after, on June 24th 1537, at the feast of St John Baptist, the ordination took place in Venice. They were ordained by Vincenz Negusanti, the bishop of Arbe, in the chapel of his private house in Venice. Ordained were Ignatius, Xaver, Laínez, Bobadilla, Codure and Rodrigues. Salmerón received only the ordinations up to the deaconate, because he had in June not yet completed the twenty second year of his life. His ordination was postponed until October. Four of the first companions were already ordained: Faber, Broët, Jay, and Hozes.
In June/July the pilgrim ships usually sailed from Venice to the Holy Land. It was for all companions a harsh disappointment when they heard that in 1537 no ship would sail to the Holy Land because of the strained military situation with Turkey. For 38 years such a thing had not occurred.
Without abandoning the hope of a ship the pilgrims decided to spread out always by twos to various cities of Upper Italy, and to be apostolically active by lectures, retreats, hospital service and the like. At a brisk pace they could reach very quickly Venice. Ignatius, Faber and Laínez went to Vicenza, where they lived in the abandoned and dilapidated monastery San Pietro in Vivarola.
In the meantime the open war between Venice and the Turks had broken out. Hence Ignatius called the whole group to Vicenca to discuss the new situation. Xaver and Rodrigues could not come. They were ill in hospital. In the meantime also the newly ordained had celebrated their First Mass, except Ignatius. He still hoped to be able to celebrate it in the birth grotto of Bethlehem.
After the discussions in Vivarolo, which took some weeks and strengthened their community, the companions spread out again to various cities. This time however they went not to towns of the Republic Venice only, but to other university towns: Ignatius, Faber and Laínez went to Rome, Codure and Hozes to Padua, Jay and Rodrigues to Ferrara, Xaver and Bobadilla to Bologna, Broët and Salmerón to Siena. By the choice of those cities they hoped also to win new young men.
In Vivarolo they also considered which answer should be given by them, if someone inquired which kind of group they were. They prayed and deliberated on it and came to the result: 'La compania de Jesús'. The word Compañía had at that time no military smack. It was a neutral word used for brotherhoods and religious or cultural associations.
In October 1537 all companions returned again to Venice. Ignatius too, because he was accused by bad slanderers, he had fled from Spain and Paris. The Apostolic Visitator Verallo let settle the case by an official lawsuit. Ignatius was ordered to Venice to take the acquittal. The document from October 13th 1537 reads: 'We testify that Ignatius led a good and pious life, that his teachings are unimpeachable, that he is from excellent origin and enjoys a likewise distinguished reputation.'
At the end of October or the beginning of November Ignatius, Faber and Laínez set out to Rome. During the whole way Ignatius had many religious experiences and graces; particularly while receiving the Communion, which Faber or Laínez handed to him in the daily Mass. He himself testified: 'On this journey the pilgrim was particularly visited by God. Time and again he asked Our Lady she might attach him to her son.'
At their last rest, about sixteen kilometres from Rome, Ignatius entered the small, half dilapidated church of La Storta. According to Lainez' report Ignatius heard internally the following words: 'I will be benevolent to you in Rome.' Ignatius clearly saw that God Father attached him to Christ his Son, and he saw the cross-bearing Jesus, and heard how the Father said to Jesus: 'I want that you take him as your servant.' When they had left the church, Ignatius told Faber and Laínez what had happened.
Now they went toward Rome, crossed on the Milvi Bridge the Tiber, and entered by the Porta del Popolo the Eternal City. For Ignatius the end of his pilgrimage was reached. Iñigo had become now Ignatius for good, and the friend circle developed to the Order. In the church San Ignacio in Rome the painting of the high altar shows the Vision of La Storta.