Gonzaga University owes its founding and early formation to Sicilian-born Fr. Joseph Cataldo, S..J. (1837-1928). Chronically frail in health and seemingly unfit for the rigors of missionary life, Cataldo is a figure that continues to amaze and inspire researchers. He first joined his Italian Jesuit confreres in the Turin Province's "Montium Saxorum" Mission in 1865, established himself at St. Michael's Mission among the Upper Spokane's, and quickly became a dominant force in the area. Cataldo was appointed General Superior of the Rocky Mountain Mission in 1877, then comprising eight Residences and thirty-eight active members scattered throughout Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
The impetus to build a college was born of competition with Protestants for access to various tribes through Congressionally allocated and subsidized mission schools. Cataldo recognized the need for local formation of Jesuits to staff those schools and the central location of Spokane Falls for that purpose. A half-section of railroad land was purchased for a campus in 1881, and by 1886 the venture had both a building and a capable first superior, Fr. James Rebmann. Gonzaga College began its first academic year September 17, 1887 with a Mass of the Holy Spirit, a tradition that continues today. Its Jesuit community totaled seventeen members, nearly a 1:1 ratio with its first student body. For admission, applicants "must know how to read and write, and not be under ten years of age;" in addition to preparatory subjects, an upper level course of studies was also offered. An early decision to enroll only white students indicated that though rooted in the missionary cause, Gonzaga's role was to be at least one step removed from it.
Enrollment rose quickly, helped by the Jesuits' sponsorship of a surrounding Catholic lay community through their legal arm, the Pioneer Educational Society. Day students were first allowed in 1889, and a new frame church and boarding facilities, complete with electricity, were constructed three years later. After weathering the Depression of 1893, Gonzaga's cautious, steady leaders, Frs. Leopold Van Gorp and Paul Arthuis, turned to the task of building a more permanent residence and school. First, Gonzaga was incorporated and legally empowered to grant degrees. Next, requiring two years to complete, a four-story brick structure was ready for use in 1899. Meanwhile they had relocated the church to centralize the new campus; the old school was also moved closer, and the Northwest Jesuit Scholasticate was transferred there from St. Ignatius Mission, Montana.
In their new building at the century-turn, Gonzaga's faculty and staff of 24 stood ready to greet 244 registered students. Both a Classical and a Commercial Course of Studies were offered. The former was subdivided into a Collegiate Department, with Classes in Philosophy, Rhetoric, Poetry and Humanities, and an Academic Department, with First, Second and Third Academic Classes. The Commercial Course, divided into three levels, stressed essential business management skills; it also included a Preparatory Department, with two levels, whose purpose was the instruction of grammar to younger pupils. Extracurricular time could be devoted to a variety of sodalities, a military cadet corps, the band, choir or symphony, debate or dramatic societies, baseball, and though unsanctioned, football. By its fourteenth commencement in 1901, Gonzaga had conferred a total of two Masters and thirty-one Baccalaureate degrees.
The next two decades witnessed steady growth and development. In 1903-4 the main building was doubled in size, adding a swimming pool and gymnasium to students' extracurricular repertoire; in response to a fatal typhoid outbreak, two years later Goller Hall was built, a combined infirmary and Jesuit residence. The original frame church was converted to a theater and relocated again to make clear space for a towering twin-spired St. Aloysius Church, dedicated in 1911. Fr. Arthuis' next great building project was a new Jesuit Scholasticate, Mt. St. Michael's, completed in 1916 and located atop a prominence twelve miles northeast of the campus. New construction ceased during the WWI years, though modest improvements were made to the physics, chemistry and biology facilities. Less visible changes had been happening too, which indicate an increasingly serious academic climate and consolidated student body. In 1910 the quarterly Gonzaga Magazine first appeared, offering students a new outlet for creative expression. The state legislature awarded Gonzaga legal status as University in 1912, the same year its School of Law opened under the capable direction of Dean Ed Cannon. And not only were the scholastics removed to Mt. St. Michael's, but two nearby parochial elementary schools were now absorbing the younger grades.
In retrospect the 1920s seem a boisterous decade at Gonzaga. Football, reinstated in 1907, was now a community passion, and though neither dominant nor ever fully integrated into regional collegiate conference participation, its teams at least became legendary. The spectacles required a stadium, capable of seating twelve thousand boosters; the much loved and abused DeSmet Hall men's residence was also added in 1925. Reflecting the spirit of the times, a School of Economics and Business Education was opened in 1921. A campus weekly, The Bulletin was added two years later, temporarily displacing the more reflective Magazine, which when revived in 1926 was renamed Gonzaga Quarterly. Also reflecting a national trend toward more standardized educational criteria, education classes appeared in the curriculum as early as 1920. Summer intensive courses for teachers began in 1924, and the Board of Trustees established a School of Education in 1928, the special care of Dean Maurice Flaherty, S.J., for its first twenty-five years.
Like the rest of the country, the 1930s and early 1940s were lean years for Gonzaga, and but for the determined leadership of President Leo Robinson, S.J., and a key contribution in 1939, the University might not have survived. Virtually no new buildings were added, though a Graduate School was organized in 1931, the Library modernized in 1933, and a School of Engineering established in 1934, in response to demand created by New Deal-sponsored projects. In 1940 the student body numbered 1200, of whom 500 were either scholastics, nursing or law students. But campus life changed dramatically during the WWII years. A disastrous fire swept through the Law Library and science labs three days after Pearl Harbor. Many Jesuit faculty members departed to become chaplains, and women assumed a more prominent presence. From 1941 to 1945, Dean James McGivern saw his Engineering enrollment drop from 175 to 31 students. The ever popular but expensive football program was finally dropped in 1942. Meanwhile during the same years, nearly 3250 men passed through Gonzaga as part of the U.S. Navy's V5 and V12 training programs.
Due to the G.I. Bill, Gonzaga rebounded during the postwar years, especially the School of Engineering, which was presented with a handsome new building in 1949. Other developments included adding Journalism to the School of Business, a ROTC program, and a radio station. For the first time in its history, Gonzaga's 1948 freshman class included coeds, who would read and soon revise the school's "Credo of the Gonzaga Man." In five years their numbers required the construction of a women's dormitory, soon followed by the "COG," a new Student Union Building. Gonzaga Prep High School was also completed in 1954, which meant that these students were no longer a part of campus life. An Accelerated Teacher Training program was added to the School of Education in 1956, and the following year, a new men's dormitory. The Crosby Library was also dedicated in 1957, an effort initiated nine years earlier by Gonzaga's most famous alumnus, Bing Crosby, then at the height of his career. Finally, another more subtle change was happening throughout the 1950s. At the opening of the decade, Jesuits comprised 45% of the 110 faculty members, excluding the Schools of Law and Nursing; fifteen years later that total had nearly doubled while the relative presence of Jesuits had dropped to 31%.
The energy animating the Second Vatican Council seems to have touched Gonzaga too, for the 1960s opened with a burst of activity. The spirit of the old Gonzaga Quarterly, discontinued since 1937, found new expression in Reflection, which has continued to the present. Two new programs were added, a Masters in Business in 1962 and the Florence (Italy) Study Abroad the next year, and the first issue of the Gonzaga Law Review appeared in 1966, all of which have remained as prominent, popular features of the University. By 1966 there had been a spree of new construction too, no less than seven dormitories, a building for Chemistry and Biology, and the Kennedy Athletic Center, as well as the acquisition of a nearby structure for the Law School. Gonzaga's Jesuit Residence also was replaced in 1964. The following year marked the beginning of a fifteen-year odyssey for historian Fr. Wilfred Schoenberg, S.J., as director of the Museum of Native American Culture (MONAC). Eventually located on the campus periphery, the original museum building now serves as a multi-purpose Conference Center.
In 1974 the Trustees inaugurated Gonzaga's twenty-third president, Fr. Bernard Coughlin, S.J., thus ushering in a critical era of steady growth matched with fiscal stability. He began with an endowment of $6 million and an annual budget of $9.6 million; at his retirement twenty one years later in 1995, the former stood at $50 million and the latter at $71 million, balanced for all but the first two years of his tenure. Meanwhile the student body had increased from about 3000 to 5000 enrollees. Two new programs were formed in 1975, a School of Professional Studies and CREDO, a popular sabbatical curriculum in Religious Studies. In 1978 a baccalaureate in Nursing was added, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership the following year. Existing programs acquired professional accreditation: the Law School in 1977, Nursing in 1983, Engineering in 1985, and Business in 1990. In the process a new School of Business was constructed, and Engineering, as well as the Athletic Center, were expanded. More recently Gonzaga has added a $20 million state-of-the-art library, a building for the School of Education, and a Fine Art Center and Museum. A final event of note, nearly hidden in the heart of the Coughlin era, was the centennial-year formation of the Council for Partnership in Mission. Charged with creating a new statement of institutional mission, the Council is now actively encouraging its integration into all aspects of university life, thus crafting a vision for Gonzaga's second century, in which cooperation between its Jesuit and lay members will need to be redefined anew.
On September 17, 1998, Fr. Robert. J. Spitzer became the 25th President of Gonzaga University, following the interim presidency of a Gonzaga legend, Harry Sladich, and the short tenure of Fr. Edward Glynn. Fr. Spitzer's appointment came at a time when the school needed a leader to continue its reputation for excellence. President Spitzer, a 1974 graduate of Gonzaga, said his primary purpose would be to help Gonzaga enhance its profound mission toward its students and the Inland Northwest.
Just prior to the fall semester of 2000, the Gonzaga University School of Law building was opened on time and under budget. The 110,000 square foot building costing $17.5 million was a vast improvement over the former elementary school, where the law school had resided for almost 40 years.
As Gonzaga entered the new millennium, student enrollment continued to accelerate. In the fall of 2001, there were 5,300 students. Consequently, the University needed additional space for student housing. The following fall semester identical residence halls, Dillon and Goller Halls, were opened to house about 2,050 students. Previously, Gonzaga had constructed the Dussault Apartments (1995), Burch Apartments (1996) and Corkery (2001) to help with the housing crunch. At one point at the turn of the century, Gonzaga leased an addition from a local hotel, which was a popular choice for 82 students.
Major campus improvements were under way in the fall of 2003. No other single year in Gonzaga's history had seen as much campus construction. Some of the construction included: a new 18-foot-wide, red-brick walkway form Astor Street to the Crosby Center; a 37,000-square-foot addition and greenhouse to Hughes Hall; a 30,000 square foot addition to the Jepson Center for the School of Business Administration to be completed in the following fall; a new west wing of Cataldo Hall; remodeling of the Administration Building; and improvements to the COG.
Due to the success of the men's and women's basketball teams, an arena was built and opened for the 2004-2005 season. It was named for the main donors, the McCarthey family. The McCarthey Athletic Center cost about $23 million. In addition to hosting Gonzaga sporting events, the 6,000 seat arena would provide a location for entertainment opportunities, educational events, and meetings. Bill Cosby would be the first, non-sporting event, to perform.
The Kennedy Apartments at Sharp and Pearl streets opened in April 2007. A year previously, the apartment complex was completely destroyed by arson. The 75 unit structure, which housed 220 students, also included a Gonzaga apparel store and coffee shop. The second section to mirror the first complex is currently under construction.
For 36 years, Pecarovich Field, later August/ART Stadium, was home to Zag baseball. This facility was torn down to make room for the McCarthey Athletic Center. While a new baseball stadium was being built at a new location just to the south of the old field, Gonzaga baseball was played at Avista Stadium, home to the Spokane Indians. Named for the major contributor to the project, the Patterson Baseball Complex opened in spring 2007 with the field known as the Washington Trust Field, after another major supporter, Washington Trust Bank. The $7 million facility provided home and visitors' locker rooms, baseball offices, laundry, training equipment, batting cages, and a natural grass field.
In summer 2007, the first group of 42 students went to Africa to serve and learn. Three groups traveled to locations in western and central Zambia and Benin, West Africa. Each group had different priorities, including teaching English, researching chimpanzee behavior, helping to build a school, and teaching villagers how to filter polluted water using locally available materials.
Fall 2007 marked the celebration of the 120th anniversary of the College of Arts and Sciences at Gonzaga University. During Fall Family Weekend in October, the Administration Building was renamed as College Hall. Always having been the home of the College of Arts and Sciences, the building will carry the College's name. The new name now affords a recognized home for Gonzaga's largest and oldest College.
Dedicated on October 6, 2007, the bronze bulldog titled "This is Our House" was a gift of the Senior Class of 2006 . Created by Vincent DeFelice, this 5-foot tall statue guards the McCarthey Athletic Center. Today, numerous Gonzaga students and alumni pose with this iconic statue.
In April 2008, the St. Ignatius Statue was dedicated. Sculpted by George Carlson, the nine foot bronze statue graces the main entrance of College Hall with a reflecting pool and redesigned landscape. This "Meditation" statue represents St. Ignatius' contemplative moment of transformation.
Robert Spitzer, S.J. stepped down as President in July 2009 after serving 11 years. During his tenure, he saw the enrollment increase from 4, 507 in 1998 to 7,319 in fall 2008. He completed a $119 million capital campaign for buildings, student financial aid, faculty enrichment, technology, and mission programs.
Coughlin Hall, a residence hall, opened in Fall 2009 honoring long time Gonzaga President, Bernard Coughlin, S.J. Housing freshmen and sophomores, it has an onsite café, a reception desk staffed for late night hours, parking beneath the first floor, a classroom, a seminar room, and a faculty member lives in the residence hall and coordinates the living and learning activities. Several floors are themed communities, such as Service and Leadership, Global Engagement, and Mind, Body, and Spirit.
Also opening in 2009 the PACCAR Center for Applied Science, was made possible through the lead gift of $2 million from PACCAR Inc. This 25,000 square foot high-tech building houses sophisticated technological laboratories dedicated to robotics, artificial vision, and transmission and distribution engineering, classrooms and offices. In 2010 the building received the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for incorporating sustainability principles into engineering design. The building was recognized for its natural lighting, energy efficiency, and open public spaces.
In January 2010, the Gonzaga Alumni Association moved out of the Crosby House into the Huetter Mansion formerly the Bishop White Seminary. Huetter Mansion, the former home of Bishop White Seminary, was physically moved across Addison Street over multiple days in July of 2008. Academic offices would be housed upstairs in Bing Crosby's former home, while the Huetter Mansion would be restored to its former elegance to host alumni functions and staff.
The new Engineering-in-Florence program started in the spring 2010 with 22 sophomores, most of them GU students. Engineering students would no longer have to choose between studying abroad and completing their degrees on time.
Thayne McCulloh, D.Phil., '89 was inaugurated as Gonzaga's 26th President on October 22, 2010. This marked the first time that a lay person held the position of President at Gonzaga University, which had previously been filled only by Jesuits. Prior to obtaining this position, McCulloh had been with the University since 1990, serving in many roles, including that of interim Academic Vice President and interim President.
Jane Korn became the first female dean of the Law School in July 2011. She replaced Earl F. Martin, who became dean in July 2005 and stepped down to become Gonzaga's executive vice president. Law Professor George Critchlow served as acting dean from 2009 - 2011.
Today, Gonzaga University looks much different than its humble beginnings in 1887. Fr. Cataldo could never have imagined that his school would become such a big business in Spokane. Gonzaga's operating budget for the fiscal year 2011-2012 is almost $235 million with an endowment of over $150 million. Instead of the initial 20 boys attending, Gonzaga now has a coed enrollment over 7,000. Fr. Cataldo's original purchase of 320 acres has diminished. Over time, Jesuit officials sold most of the property to individuals for neighborhood homes. Gonzaga continues to purchase some of that property back to house today's expanding facilities. The campus now includes 105 buildings on 131 acres and a physical plant value of $333.7 million as well as a personal property value of $18.6 million. Instead of 17 Jesuits educating the young boys, today Gonzaga employs over 1,200 people. Consequently, Gonzaga University is one of the major employers in Spokane.
Although physically and financially Gonzaga does not resemble the institution of 1887, Gonzaga has never lost its primary goal. As written in the 1887 catalog, Gonzaga's object is to offer students "the facilities for securing a solid and complete education, based on the principles of religion and calculated to fit them for a successful career in life." For 120 years, Gonzaga University continues to offer a quality Jesuit education to its students.
Compilation of the histories of David Kingma and Stephanie Plowman, Foley Center
Early Life of St. Ignatius
Inigo de Loyola was born in 1491 in Azpeitia in the Basque province of Guipuzcoa in northern Spain. He was the youngest of thirteen children. At the age of sixteen years he was sent to serve as a page to Juan Velazquez, the treasurer of the kingdom of Castile. As a member of the Velazquez household, he was frequently at court and developed a taste for all it presented, especially the ladies. He was much addicted to gambling, very contentious, and not above engaging in swordplay on occasion. In fact in a dispute between the Loyolas and another family, Ignatius and his brother plus some relatives ambushed at night some clerics who were members of the other family. Ignatius had to flee the town. When finally brought to justice he claimed clerical immunity using the defense that he had received the tonsure as a boy, and was therefore exempt from civil prosecution. The defense was specious because Ignatius had for years gone about in the dress of a fighting man, wearing a coat of mail and breastplate, and carrying a sword and other sorts of arms - certainly not the garb normally worn by a cleric. The case dragged on for weeks, but the Loyolas were apparently powerful. Probably through the influence of higher-ups, the case against Ignatius was dropped.
Eventually he found himself at the age of 30 in May of 1521 as an officer defending the fortress of the town of Pamplona against the French, who claimed the territory as their own against Spain. The Spaniards were terribly outnumbered and the commander of the Spanish forces wanted to surrender, but Ignatius convinced him to fight on for the honor of Spain, if not for victory. During the battle a cannon ball struck Ignatius, wounding one leg and breaking the other. Because they admired his courage, the French soldiers carried him back to recuperate at his home, the castle of Loyola, rather than to prison.
His leg was set but did not heal, so it was necessary to break it again and reset it, all without anesthesia. Ignatius grew worse and was finally told by the doctors that he should prepare for death.
On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) he took an unexpected turn for the better. The leg healed, but when it did the bone protruded below the knee and one leg was shorter than the other. This was unacceptable to Ignatius, who considered it a fate worse than death not to be able to wear the long, tight-fitting boots and hose of the courtier. Therefore he ordered the doctors to saw off the offending knob of bone and lengthen the leg by systematic stretching. Again, all of this was done without anesthesia. Unfortunately, this was not a successful procedure. All his life he walked with a limp because one leg was shorter than the other.
Conversion of St. Ignatius
During the long weeks of his recuperation, he was extremely bored and asked for some romance novels to pass the time. Luckily there were none in the castle of Loyola, but there was a copy of the life of Christ and a book on the saints. Desperate, Ignatius began to read them. The more he read, the more he considered the exploits of the saints worth imitating. However, at the same time he continued to have daydreams of fame and glory, along with fantasies of winning the love of a certain noble lady of the court, the identity of whom we never have discovered but who seems to have been of royal blood. He noticed, however, that after reading and thinking of the saints and Christ he was at peace and satisfied. Yet when he finished his long daydreams of his noble lady, he would feel restless and unsatisfied. Not only was this experience the beginning of his conversion, it was also the beginning of spiritual discernment, or discernment of spirits, which is associated with Ignatius and described in his Spiritual Exercises.
The Exercises recognize that not only the intellect but also the emotions and feelings can help us to come to a knowledge of the action of the Spirit in our lives. Eventually, completely converted from his old desires and plans of romance and worldly conquests, and recovered from his wounds enough to travel, he left the castle in March of 1522.
He had decided that he wanted to go to Jerusalem to live where our Lord had spent his life on earth. As a first step he began his journey to Barcelona. Though he had been converted completely from his old ways, he was still seriously lacking in the true spirit of charity and Christian understanding, as illustrated by an encounter he had with a Moor on his way. The Moor and he came together on the road, both riding mules, and they began to debate religious matters. The Moor claimed that the Blessed Virgin was not a virgin in her life after Christ was born. Ignatius took this to be such an insult that he was in a dilemma as to what to do. They came to a fork in the road, and Ignatius decided that he would let circumstances direct his course of action. The Moor went down one fork. Ignatius let the reins of his mule drop. If his mule followed the Moor, he would kill him. If the mule took the other fork he would let the Moor live. Fortunately for the Moor, Ignatius' mule was more charitable than its rider and took the opposite fork from the Moor.
He proceeded to the Benedictine shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat, made a general confession, and knelt all night in vigil before Our Lady's altar, following the rites of chivalry. He left his sword and knife at the altar, went out and gave away all his fine clothes to a poor man, and dressed himself in rough clothes with sandals and a staff.
The Experience at Manresa
He continued towards Barcelona but stopped along the river Cardoner at a town called Manresa. He stayed in a cave outside the town, intending to linger only a few days, but he remained for ten months. He spent hours each day in prayer and also worked in a hospice. It was while here that the ideas for what are now known as the Spiritual Exercises began to take shape. It was also on the banks of this river that he had a vision which is regarded as the most significant in his life. The vision was more of an enlightenment, about which he later said that he learned more on that one occasion than he did in the rest of his life. Ignatius never revealed exactly what the vision was, but it seems to have been an encounter with God as He really is so that all creation was seen in a new light and acquired a new meaning and relevance, an experience that enabled Ignatius to find God in all things. This grace, finding God in all things, is one of the central characteristics of Jesuit spirituality.
Ignatius himself never wrote in the rules of the Jesuits that there should be any fixed time for prayer. Actually, by finding God in all things, all times are times of prayer. He did not, of course, exclude formal prayer, but he differed from other founders regarding the imposition of definite times or duration of prayer. One of the reasons some opposed the formation of the Society of Jesus was that Ignatius proposed doing away with the chanting of the Divine Office in choir. This was a radical departure from custom, because until this time, every religious order was held to the recitation of the office in common. For Ignatius, such recitation meant that the type of activity envisioned for the Society would be hindered. Some time after the death of Ignatius, a later Pope was so upset about this that he imposed the recitation of the Office in common on the Jesuits. Fortunately, the next Pope was more understanding and allowed the Jesuits to return to their former practice.
It was also during this period at Manresa, still lacking in true wisdom concerning holiness, that he undertook many extreme penances, trying to outdo those he had read of in the lives of the saints. It is possible that some of these penances, especially his fasting, ruined his stomach, which troubled him the rest of his life. He had not yet learned moderation and true spirituality. This is probably why the congregation he later founded did not have any prescribed or set penances, as other orders had.
He finally arrived at Barcelona, took a boat to Italy, and ended up in Rome where he met Pope Adrian VI and requested permission to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Once he arrived in the Holy Land he wanted to remain, but was told by the Franciscan superior who had authority over Catholics there that the situation was too dangerous. (Remember, the Turks were the rulers of the Holy Land.) The superior ordered Ignatius to leave. Ignatius refused but when threatened with excommunication, he obediently departed.
The Return to School
By now he was 33 years old and determined to study for the priesthood. However, he was ignorant of Latin, a necessary preliminary to university studies in those days. So he started back to school studying Latin grammar with young boys in a school in Barcelona. There he begged for his food and shelter. After two years he moved on to the University of Alcala. There his zeal got him into trouble, a problem that continued throughout his life. He would gather students and adults to explain the Gospels to them and teach them how to pray. His efforts attracted the attention of the Inquisition and he was thrown into jail for 42 days. When he was released he was told to avoid teaching others. The Spanish Inquisition was a bit paranoid and anyone not ordained was suspect (as well as many who were ordained).
Because he could not live without helping souls, Ignatius moved on to the University of Salamanca. There, within two weeks, the Dominicans had thrown him back into prison again. Though they could find no heresy in what he taught, he was told that he could only teach children and then only simple religious truths. Once more he took to the road, this time for Paris.
At the University of Paris he began school again, studying Latin grammar and literature, philosophy, and theology. He would spend a couple of months each summer begging in Flanders for the money he would need to support himself in his studies for the rest of the year. It was also in Paris that he began sharing a room with Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. He greatly influenced a few other fellow students (Xavier was the hardest nut to crack, interested as he was mainly in worldly success and honors), directing them all at one time or another for thirty days in what we now call the Spiritual Exercises. Eventually six of them plus Ignatius decided to take vows of chastity and poverty and to go to the Holy Land. If going to the Holy Land became impossible, they would then go to Rome and place themselves at the disposal of the Pope for whatever he would want them to do. They did not think of doing this as a religious order or congregation, but as individual priests. For a year they waited, however no ship was able to take them to the Holy Land because of the conflict between the Christians and Muslims. While waiting they spent some time working in hospitals and teaching catechism in various cities of northern Italy. It was during this time that Ignatius was ordained a priest, but he did not say Mass for another year. It is thought that he wanted to say his first Mass in Jerusalem in the land where Jesus himself had lived.
The Company of Jesus
Ignatius, along with two of his companions, Peter Faber and James Lainez, decided to go to Rome and place themselves at the disposal of the Pope. It was a few miles outside of the city that Ignatius had the second most significant of his mystical experiences. At a chapel at La Storta where they had stopped to pray, God the Father told Ignatius, "I will be favorable to you in Rome" and that he would place him (Ignatius) with His Son. Ignatius did not know what this experience meant, for it could mean persecution as well as success since Jesus experienced both. But he felt very comforted since, as St. Paul wrote, to be with Jesus even in persecution was success. When they met with the Pope, he very happily put them to work teaching scripture and theology and preaching. It was here on Christmas morning, 15 3 8, that Ignatius celebrated his first Mass at the church of St. Mary Major in the Chapel of the Manger. It was thought that this chapel had the actual manger from Bethlehem, so, if Ignatius was not going to be able to say his first Mass at Jesus' birthplace in the Holy Land, then this would be the best substitute.
During the following Lent (1539), Ignatius asked all of his companions to come to Rome to discuss their future. They had never thought of founding a religious order, but now that going to Jerusalem was out, they had to think about their future - whether they would spend it together. After many weeks of prayer and discussion, they decided to form a community, with the Pope's approval, in which they would vow obedience to a superior general who would hold office for life. They would place themselves at the disposal of the Holy Father to travel wherever he should wish to send them for whatever duties. A vow to this effect was added to the ordinary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Formal approval of this new order was given by Pope Paul III the following year on September 27, 1540. Since they had referred to themselves as the Company of Jesus (in Latin Societatis Jesu), in English their order became known as the Society of Jesus. Ignatius was elected on the first ballot of the group to be superior, but he begged them to reconsider, pray and vote again a few days later. The second ballot came out as the first, unanimous for Ignatius, except for his own vote. He was still reluctant to accept, but his Franciscan confessor told him it was God's will, so he acquiesced. On the Friday of Easter week, April 22,1541, at the Church of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, the friends pronounced their vows in the newly formed Order.
The Last Years
Ignatius, whose love it was to be actively involved in teaching catechism to children, directing adults in the Spiritual Exercises, and working among the poor and in hospitals, would for the most part sacrifice this love for the next fifteen years - until his death - and work out of two small rooms, his bedroom and next to it his office, directing this new society throughout the world. He would spend years composing the Constitutions of the Society and would write thousands of letters to all corners of the globe to his fellow Jesuits dealing with the affairs of the Society and to lay men and women directing them in the spiritual life. From his tiny quarters in Rome he would live to see in his lifetime the Society of Jesus grow from eight to a thousand members, with colleges and houses all over Europe and as far away as Brazil and Japan. Some of the original companions were to become the Pope's theologians at the Council of Trent, an event which played an important role in the Catholic Counter Reformation.
At first Ignatius wrote his own letters, but as the Society grew in numbers and spread over the world, it became impossible to communicate with everyone and still run the new order. Therefore a secretary, Fr. Polanco, was appointed in 1547 to help him in his correspondence. We know that Ignatius wrote almost 7,000 letters during his lifetime, the vast majority of them after he became the Superior General of the Jesuits. Ignatius considered the correspondence between members of the Jesuits one of the most important elements in fostering unity. Separation of Jesuits throughout the world was one of the greatest dangers to the growth, apostolate and unity of the Society. He not only wrote, therefore, to all the houses of the Order, but he also required the various superiors throughout the world to write to Rome regularly, informing him of what was happening. This information could be passed on to the houses of the Society everywhere.
In his letters to members of the Society, he treated each one as an individual. He was overly kind and gentle with those who gave him the most problems. On the other hand, with those who were the holiest and humblest, he seemed at times to be too harsh, obviously because he knew they were able to take his corrections without rancor, knowing that Ignatius loved them and was looking only to their greater spiritual good. Fr. James Lainez, one of Ignatius' original companions, was the provincial in northern Italy. He had done a couple of things that put Ignatius on the spot, including making commitments that Ignatius could not fulfill. In addition, Lainez had expressed his disagreement to others about a change of personnel which Ignatius made.
Ignatius wrote to Lainez through his secretary Polanco: "He, (Ignatius) has told me to write to you and tell you to attend to your own office, which if you do well, you will be doing more than a little. You are not to trouble yourself in giving your view of his affairs, as he does not want anything of the kind from you unless he asks for it, and much less now than before you took office, since your administration of your own province has not done much to increase your credit in his eyes. Examine your mistakes in the presence of God our Lord, and for three days take some time for prayer to this end." So much for saints being all sugar and spice.
It was to Lainez' credit that he took this severe reproof with humility and grace, asking to be assigned several harsh penances, such as being removed from office and being assigned the meanest job possible in the Society. Ignatius never even referred to the incident again, leaving Lainez to carry on as before. Lainez was to succeed Ignatius as the second Superior General of the Jesuits.
A superior of somewhat less humility than Lainez could not see the importance of writing to Rome of all the happenings in his house. With tact and kindness, so as not to hurt the superior's feelings, but perhaps with a touch of sarcasm, Ignatius wrote: "It will not be a matter of surprise to you to learn that reproofs are sometimes sent out from Rome ... If I have to dwell at some length on them, do not lay the blame on your own desserts alone, but also on the concept that has been formed here of your fortitude, in the sense that you are a man to whom can be said whatever needs saying ... you did well to observe obedience in the matter of writing every week... What you should have done was to try to find someone, once the letters were written, to carry and deliver them."
While zealous to bring people to God and to help them spiritually, Ignatius still remained a person of practicality and common sense. A Jesuit had complained of having trouble with overly pious people who monopolized his time for no good reason. Through Polanco, Ignatius instructed him on how to deal charitably with such people without giving offense. "Our father (Ignatius) made another remark as to how to free oneself from one whom there was no hope of helping. He suggests talking to him rather pointedly of hell, judgement and such things. In that case he would not return, or, if he did, the chances are that he would feel himself touched in our Lord."
There was a bishop who had a great animosity to the Society. He refused to have this new Order in his diocese, and he excommunicated anyone who made the Spiritual Exercises. He was known as Bishop "Cilicio" by the Jesuits (that is, "the hairshirt bishop"). Ignatius told the Jesuits who were worried about his attitude to relax. "Bishop Cilicio is an old man. The Society is young. We can wait."
The Jesuits and Schools
Perhaps the work of the Society of Jesus begun by Ignatius that is best known is that of education, yet it is interesting that he had no intention of including teaching among the Jesuits' works at the beginning. As already mentioned, the purpose of the first members was to be at the disposal of the Pope to go where they would be most needed. Before 1548 Ignatius had opened schools in Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and India, but they were intended primarily for the education of the new young Jesuit recruits. Ten such colleges within six years indicated the rapid growth of the Jesuits. But in 1548 at the request of the magistrates of Messina in Sicily, Ignatius sent five men to open a school for lay as well as Jesuit students. It soon became clear by requests from rulers, bishops and cities for schools that this work was truly one of the most effective ways to correct ignorance and corruption among the clergy and faithful, to stem the decline of the Church in the face of the Reformation, and to fulfill the motto of the Society of Jesus, "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam," - to the greater glory of God.
Ignatius expressed this in a letter to Fr. Araoz, "The more universal the good is, the more it is divine. Therefore preference ought to be given to those persons and places which, through their own improvement, become a cause which can spread the good accomplished to many others who are under their influence or take guidance from them ... For the same reason, too, preference ought to be shown to the aid which is given to ... universities, which are generally attended by numerous persons who by being aided themselves can become laborers for the help of others."
This was in keeping with one of Ignatius' first principles in choosing apostolates: all other things being equal, choose those apostolates that will influence those who have the most influence on others. Maybe the best expression of this idea was in a letter he wrote about the founding of colleges in December of 1551: "From among those who are now merely students, in time some will depart to play diverse roles - one to preach and carry on the care of souls, another to government of the land and the administration of justice, and others to other callings. Finally, since young boys become grown men, their good education in life and doctrine will be beneficial to many others, with the fruit expanding more widely every day." From then on, Ignatius helped establish Jesuit schools and universities all over Europe and the world.
Ignatius as a Man
It is probably true that the picture of Ignatius that most people have is that of a soldier: stern, iron-willed, practical, showing little emotion - not a very attractive or warm personality. Yet if this picture is exact, it is hard to see how he could have had such a strong influence on those who knew him. Luis Goncalves de Camara, one of his closest associates, wrote, "He (Ignatius) was always rather inclined toward love; moreover, he seemed all love, and because of that he was universally loved by all. There was no one in the Society who did not have great love for him and did not consider himself much loved by him."
He sometimes cried so much at Mass that he could not go on, nor even talk for some time, and he was afraid that his gift of tears might cause him to lose his eyesight. Goncalves de Camara said, "When he did not weep three times during Mass, he considered himself deprived of consolation." We regard a number of saints as great mystics but never think of Ignatius as one of them. We have recounted a few of the many visions and mystical experiences in his life. His holiness, however, did not consist in such, but in the great love that directed his life to do everything A.M.D.G., for the greater glory of God.
Ever since his student days in Paris, Ignatius had suffered from stomach ailments and they became increasingly troublesome in Rome. In the summer of 1556 his health grew worse, but his physician thought he would survive this summer as he had done others. Ignatius, however, thought that the end was near. On the afternoon of July 30th he asked Polanco to go and get the Pope's blessing for him, suggesting by this to Polanco that he was dying. Polanco, however, trusted the physician more than Ignatius and told him that he had a lot of letters to write and mail that day. He would go for the Pope's blessing the next day. Though Ignatius indicated that he would prefer he (Polanco) go that afternoon, he did not insist. Shortly after midnight Ignatius took a turn for the worse. Polanco rushed off to the Vatican to get the papal blessing, but it was too late. The former worldly courtier and soldier who had turned his gaze to another court and a different type of battle had rendered his soul into the hands of God. Ignatius was beatified on July 27, 1609 and canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622 together with St. Francis Xavier. Ignatius' feast day is celebrated by the universal Church and the Jesuits on July 31, the day he died.
History provided by the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus
One of the most frequently asked questions about Gonzaga University is the origin of the name. Who was St. Aloysius Gonzaga? He is an Italian Jesuit saint of the 16th century. In 1887 when Father Joseph Cataldo, an Italian born Jesuit, founded Gonzaga College in Spokane, Washington, it seemed fitting to name the new school after his fellow Jesuit and fellow Italian, St. Aloysius Gonzaga.
Aloysius is the Latin form of Gonzaga's given name, Luigi. In English, the equivalent form would be Louis. The Gonzaga name is well known in Italy. Aloysius Gonzaga was born at Castiglione near Mantua, Italy, in 1568 to a celebrated family of wealth and prestige. As the first born son of his father, Ferrante, and his mother, Marta, he was in line to inherit his father's title of Marquis. He grew up amid the violence and brutality of the Renaissance Italy and witnessed the murder of two of his brothers. In 1576, Aloysius' parents sent him to attend the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco de'Medici, in Florence. Later, accompanied by his parents, he traveled to Spain to join the court of Philip II in Madrid.
In Spain, Aloysius decided he wanted to join the newly founded religious order, The Society of Jesus. His father resisted his decision and there followed a struggle of wills that continued after his return to Castiglione in 1584. But Aloysius eventually prevailed. Renouncing his right to the title of Marquis and to the vast wealth he was destined to inherit, he entered the Society of Jesus in Rome on November 25, 1585. During his early studies in Rome, he would regularly go out into the streets of the city to care for victims of the plague. He himself contracted the disease as a result of his efforts for the suffering and died on June 21, 1591, at the age of twenty-three, six years short of his ordination as a Jesuit priest.
Even before his time as a Jesuit, Aloysius was known for his love of prayer and fasting. He received his First Communion from St. Charles Borromeo. As a Jesuit at the Roman College, he continued to devote his time to prayer and practices of austerity. His spiritual director was Robert Bellarmine who later was canonized and declared a doctor of the church. When Robert was dying, he asked to be buried next to the grave of Aloysius. Today, they rest next to each other in the church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Rome. Pope Benedict XIII canonized Aloysius in 1726, and three years later declared him to be the patron of youth in the Catholic Church, an honor later confirmed by Pope Pius XI in 1926.
Adjacent to our university campus is a parish church, St. Aloysius. A statue of Aloysius stands outside the church, representing the saint carrying in his arms a victim of the plague. Two miles north of the university is a Jesuit secondary school also named in honor of the saint, Gonzaga Preparatory School. Gonzaga University in Spokane is the only Jesuit university in the world named after St. Aloysius.