German Version

October 1st 1599 - Directory to the Spiritual Exercises

The first Jesuits asked Ignatius repeatedly for a manual for giving retreats. When he died, it was still unfinished. Certainly, since Manresa 1522 Ignatius had written down his realizations and experiences, and had placed explanations and notes into his booklet about the Exercises. He submitted the entire booklet to the pope. On July 31st 1548 Paul III approved the text, and in October Ignatius let print it.

The companions argued that Ignatius could give them more assistance yet. They pressed him to write a longer Directory, how one was to give retreats. He promised it, but could no longer do it. He left only a sheet closely covered with writing.

The first General Congregation assigned the new General, Father Laynez, to take care that an official Directory was made available. For four decades the next three Generals - Francis Borgias, Eberhard Mercurian, and Claudius Aquaviva - worked on it; and two competent Jesuits, i.e. Polanco, Ignatius' secretary of many years, and Diego Miró, superior in Portugal, who had much experience in giving the Exercises.

But still the Directory became not finished. The fourth General Congregation, which elected 1581 Father Aquaviva new General, required now energetically the completion. Nevertheless it lasted still ten years until Aquaviva circulated a draft, to which the superiors and experts should express their views. Hence the final Latin text, which is divided into forty articles, could be published in 1599. It is a document with much esprit and zeal.

The Directory considers also two variants of Exercises, which had only developed after Ignatius' death, i.e. the Annual Retreats and the Preached Retreats.


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