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By Christopher Hollis
Guiding Christopher Hollis’s 1931 biography of Saint Ignatius is the question: “What is the point of being a saint?” In the particular case of Ignatius, “why did he behave as he did,” such that he achieved a life of heroic sanctity? Recounting the major events and experiences of St. Ignatius’s life—conversion, formation of the Society of Jesus, the writing of the Spiritual Exercises, and more—Hollis leads a fascinating inquiry into the motivations of Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola, soldier-and-sinner-turned-saint. Although his work is best characterized as primarily a psychological profile, Hollis does not neglect pertinent historical details such as Ignatius’s relationship to the Renaissance, his partnership with Pope Paul III, and his role in the Council of Trent. Indeed, the historical interpretation is complementary to the psychological analysis, reinforcing as it does Hollis’s conclusion that “if it be the purpose of man to love God with all his heart and to serve Him with all his mind, then there has not yet been among men a greater than Ignatius of Loyola.”
“The energy of the saints has left everywhere its dents upon the world,” finely writes Francis Thompson. “When these men, reviled for impotence, have turned their half-disdainful hands to tasks approved by the multitude, they have borne away the palm from the world in its own prized exercises.” Of no man is this more true than of St. Ignatius. (Christopher Hollis)
A vivid, salutary voyage of discovery, Saint Ignatius offers a deeper understanding of its subject and his dedicated work ad maiorem dei gloriam, the God whom he loved so ardently.
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Christopher Hollis (1902–1977) was an English Catholic author, professor, and politician. Educated at Oxford University and friend to Ronald Knox and Evelyn Waugh, he converted to Catholicism in 1929. After holding professorships at Stonyhurst College and the University of Notre Dame, he served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and then as a Member of Parliament until 1955. His best-known books include A Study of George Orwell and The Jesuits: A History.