German Version

March 12th 1622 - Canonization of Ignatius and Francis Xaver

Naturally the beatification of the two Founding Fathers preceded their common canonization. For Ignatius it took place in the year 1609 - 53 years after his death, for Xaver in the year 1619 - 67 years after his death. The canonization of those two probably greatest saints of the Society of Jesus happened on March 12th 1622, together with Philipp Neri - the merry Italian, the Spaniard Isidor from Sevilla and Teresa from Avila - the great mystic. Four were Spaniards, only Philipp Neri Italian. And four were contemporaries in the sixteenth century, only Isidor of Sevilla lived about the year 600.

The canonization was done by Pope Gregor XV (1621-1623). Despite the shortness of his pontificate - not even full three years - he is reckoned among the most important popes. He was very much devoted to the Society of Jesus and the mission activity of the church, and created the congregation 'propaganda fidei' for the spreading of the faith. Pope Gregor XV originated from the family of the Ludovisi in Bologna. He had made his humanistic, philosophical and theological studies at the Roman College, and had enjoyed an education in the spirit of the Catholic reform.

General of the Order was at that time the Roman Mutius Vitelleschi (1615-1645), who held that office for thirty years. Only Aquaviva held office somewhat longer, i.e. for thirty-four years. Vitelleschi let record the event of the canonization in a painting, which is to be seen in the vestry of the church Il Gesù. It shows Gregor XV on the papal throne in the apsis of Sankt Peter. Before him the undersecretary of state Cardinal Ludovisi - an at that time only 26 years old nephew of the pope - requests from the pope the insertion of the new saints into the official catalogue of saints. Father General and his four assistants are kneeling in the foreground on the right.

It be pointed to three things in the area of the various arts:

  1. The burial place of St Ignatius - now finally arranged in the left transept of the church Il Gesù. The altar above the grave with the columns from Lapis lazuli and gilded bronze is considered as masterpiece of the Baroque art. The silver statue of the saint was created by Pierre Legros in 1677, one of the greatest masters of the group around Bernini.
  2. The ceiling painting in the church S. Ignacio - created by Brother Andrea Pozzo (1694). The vision of St Ignatius in La Storta serves as its motive.
  3. Church and college in the Spanish Loyola - the famous silver statue of the saint in the basilica in Loyola. The finger of the Saint points to the motto O.A.M.D.G. (Omnia Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam).

These three important works of art were not only consequences of the canonization but at the same time also events in connection with the hundredth anniversary of the Order in the year 1640. The canonization in 1622 triggered a large wave of enthusiasm, encouragement and confidence.


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