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Ignatius was born in 1491 at Loyola in Guipuzcoa. After spending some time as a courtier, he turned to a military career. In 1521, while convalescing after a wound received at the siege of Pamplona, he suddenly conceived a burning desire to follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ. In 1523 he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, via Rome and Venice. His spiritual experiences during his retreat at Manresa were to provide the core of his book `The Spiritual Exercises'. In 1534 he took the vows at Montmartre. In 1537 he was ordained in Venice, and in the same year moved to Rome. There, in 1540 he founded the Society of Jesus, and in the following year was elected its first General. In every kind of apostolic work he contributed greatly to the Catholic revival of the sixteenth century and to the renewal of the Church's missionary activity. He died in Rome on July 31, 1556, and was Beatified on 27th July1609 by Pope Paul V and canonized by Gregory XV on 22nd May, 1622.
Pope Gregory XV when canonizing Ignatius of Loyola said that the saint had "a heart greater than the world". Arnold Toynbee, speaking from the perspective of history counted Ignatius Loyola among "the greatest and most influential figures" in the field of religion, "a striking example of spiritual transformation." In a widely used book called The Doctrine of the Great Educators, Ignatius is listed among a select group of thirteen men who have had an influence on education; the others include Plato, Quintilian, Milton, Locke, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Montessori, and John Dewey.
Seal of the Society of Jesus. The "IHS" trigram represents the first three Greek letters of "IHΣOYΣ" (Jesus), later interpreted as "Iesus Hominum Salvator", Jesus, Saviour of Mankind, The Society of Jesus (Latin: Societas Iesu, S.J. and S.I. or SJ, SI) is a Roman Catholic religious order of clerks regular whose members are called Jesuits. The Jesuits today form the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church, with 19,216 serving in 112 nations on six continents, the largest number being in India followed by those in the United States. The current Superior General of the Jesuits is the Spaniard Adolfo Nicolás.
The Society is characterized by its ministries in the fields of missionary work, human rights, social justice and, most notably, higher education. It operates colleges and universities in various countries around the world and is particularly active in the Philippines and India.. A typical conception of the mission of a Jesuit school will often contain such concepts as proposing Christ as the model of human life, the pursuit of excellence in teaching and learning and life-long spiritual and intellectual growth.
The Jesuit presence in Kerala goes back to the time of St. Francis Xavier. Since the arrival of the Portuguese to the Malabar Coast, Jesuits are working in Kerala. Later the Malabar Mission was entrusted to Venice Milan Province and it was known as Karnatic Mission. At the time of transfer of power by the British to Indians, Calicut Mission was part of Jesuit Madurai Province. It was in 1960 the Calicut Mission was elevated to the status of Vice Province under the leadership of Fr. Joseph Edamaram S.J. A few years later it was raised to an independent Province.
Kerala Province celebrated its Golden Jubilee in the year, 2010. There are 212 Jesuits working in more than 28 institutions all over Kerala. Apart from the education ministry, Jesuits in Kerala are also involved in communication, media, formation, social apostolate, pastoral, spiritual and inter-faith dialogue ministries.