We left Bilbao at 9 a.m. for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Loyola. The steep mountains, and dense forests remind me of my native British Columbia and adopted Pacific Northwest. We checked into the Hotel Arrupe which is adjacent to the beautiful Loyola Basilica, built to honor the canonization of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We visited his family home, which is now surrounded by the Basilica, the Jesuit community and associated library and museum. Ignatius’ family castle helps us to understand his early years, family life and social context place. We are moved by the most famous room called the Chapel of the Conversion. This is the room where Ignatius, as a young soldier, had a profound spiritual experience and conversion while he was recuperating after being wounded in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521. We celebrated Mass here — an incredibly moving experience for all of us.
This afternoon we visited St. Sebastian Church where St. Ignatius was baptized, the Magdalene Hospital where he worked for three months in 1535 and the Hermitage of our Lady of Orlatz. Dinner was at a local restaurant. Feliz Cumpleanos to one of our pilgrims and Trustees, Kevin Fitzgerald, S.J. It was also Kevin’s 26th and my 36th anniversary of our ordinations.
Notes on being a Pilgrim: Saint Ignatius of Loyola, after his conversation experience, thought of himself and referred to himself throughout the rest of his life as a pilgrim. His pilgrimage through life witnesses his growth as a human being, as a disciple of Jesus, as a companion of others with a shared vision of faith and service.
Pilgrim comments after our first day
“Even though many of us know one another this situation promotes a deep level of interaction.”
“Mass at the Chapel of Conversion was a deeply moving experience. The wound that brought Ignatius back displaced him — the problem became his focus. It engendered a crisis. He couldn’t be a soldier any more and he had to decide what his new life would be. Problems displace all of us. How we deal with them can be profound.”
“The sense of place — the rugged terrain — allows you to place yourself back in time and think about the difference between the way we make decisions and look at the world.”
“Seeing the Madonna at St. Orlatz was beautiful — especially the way Mary and the Baby Jesus are situated. Sedes Sapentiae — seat of wisdom. Mary is the throne and Christ is the source of wisdom.”
“In 24 hours we have all become familiar with each other. Our conversation, our bus rides, our walks — have already been a bonding experience.”
“During our institutional accreditation process, we heard that Holy Cross was an institution that clearly understood its mission. This experience is only enhancing the values of Ignatius that we all cherish. It is embedding the mission in key decision makers and influencers at the College.”
“By the end of our first day I think we all felt a sense of relief. What will this journey be like? What will it mean for us personally? We have all seen that the power of place has amazing influence.”