Last Sunday, I arrived back home after traveling to Spain and Italy on an Ignatian Pilgrimage. Although I’ve been blessed to have been to Italy many times, this was my first trip to Spain, and I was excited to see some of this wonderful country. Knowing this was the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, we spent our first night in Spain in her hometown. Avila still has it’s ancient walls intact as you can see from the photo, ever ready for the next battle.
With my doctoral writing ever present in my mind, I was grateful for the chance to see many of the important places in the life of St. Ignatius, including his home in Loyola, the Benedictine Monastery in Montserrat where he, after a lengthy confession and much prayer, made the decision to change his life and serve God.
I prayed in the same cave in Manresa where God revealed himself to Ignatius through a series of mystical illuminations. Ignatius stayed for months, I for only the briefest of visits. Finally, I spent some quality time in Rome, visiting the Church of the Gesu next to which Ignatius and his first followers would build their headquarters. It was in this building where Ignatius spent years directing Jesuits all over the world, and it was here where he died.
I’ll be writing more about my trip in the weeks to come. I want to especially share some of my thoughts on the few days I spent in Montserrat. People have been coming to this mountaintop to pray since the 700’s, and it’s an amazingly beautiful and spiritual place. I’ll admit that my group could have left me there for the remainder of our pilgrimage and I would have been a happy camper.
Please join me in praying for the people who will be making my Making All Things New Retreat June 12-14 at Bon Secours Retreat Center in Marriottsville, Maryland. I can’t wait to share what I know about St. Ignatius and the spirituality he developed almost five hundred years ago, my knowledge now enhanced from my days on pilgrimage.