July 31 Saints of the Day – Germanus of Auxerre and Ignatius of Loyola

On this date in 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts took the first ride in a lunar rover. The vehicle cost over $38 million to make; understandably, the insurance premiums were astronomical.

Germanus of AuxerreGermanus of Auxerre (ca. 378 – 448) came from the noblest of noble Gallic families. His father’s name was “Rusticus.” He received the finest schooling (including classes in “Eloquence,” a subject sadly no longer taught in most universities) and practiced law in Rome, where his eloquence won him the hand of the well-bred Eustachia (inventor of ear drainage). The emperor sent him (as one of six dukes) back to Gaul, where he set about offending the bishop by hanging hunting trophies on a pagan tree. The bishop executed the tree, burnt the trophies, and concocted a wily plan. When Germanus came looking for him, he barred the doors, subdued Germanus, and tonsured him a monk, saying “prepare to be bishop.” Sure enough, when the bishop died, Germanus was elected his successor. He took this as a sign he should be bishop, and turned to prayer, study, charity, and other bishopy things.

In 429, he was sent as part of a delegation to fight Pelagianism in Britain. While passing through Nanterre he met Genevieve of Paris and told her to dedicate her life to Christ. (She did.) In Britain he temporarily doffed his miter and led an army of Britons to victory over a Pict-Saxon raiding party. This may not have been as big a deal as his hagiographer made it, and he may have had little impact on Pelagianism in Britain, and he may not even have met Saint Patrick. (You know how scholars can be.) After the Armoricans did something rebellious (my sources are in mutual rebellion as to the details), Germanus went to Ravenna to beg the empress to forgive them. (She did.) There he met Peter Chrysologus, and died peacefully (these events are unrelated) (supposedly). He is the patron of Auxerres.

Ignatius of LoyolaIgnatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556) was born Iñigo (“Hello. My name is Iñigo Loyola”) (you know you wanted me to do that) in the Basque village of Loyola, where his family (Lopez) was of some importance, living in a castle and all. He loved all things chivalrous, teething on El Cid and tales of King Arthur’s knights. When he was old enough, he joined the army, and went around with his cape open so people could see his tights (you only wish I was making this up). He got into duels with Muslims (all successful) (for him, not the Muslims), and fought in many campaigns until a French cannonball broke one of his legs. He then underwent several surgeries, which he didn’t enjoy.

While convalescing he began to read religious writings, and had something of a religious conversion. He hung up his sword, and began to practice asceticism, cave-dwelling, and vision-seeing. After a trip to Jerusalem, and some studying and preaching in Spain, he went to U. Paris and earned a Master’s degree. There he and six followers took a vow of poverty, chastity, and (later) obedience, thereby becoming the Society of Jesus.

The Jesuits (as they are known on the streets) went throughout Europe, opening schools, colleges, and seminaries. Even today, if you are studying at a Jesuit institution (of which there are over 3700), it is likely to be a school, college, or seminary. Ignatius wrote a strict, strongly hierarchical rule for the society, as well as a set of spiritual exercises which are still exercising the spiritual today. The Jesuits are primarily known, however, as the shock troops of the Counter-reformation, a movement started to counter the Reformation. (Lest you think “shock troops” is an overstatement, the charter of the order starts with, “Whoever would be a soldier of God….”) They not only taught Catholic doctrine contra Protestantes, but fought with their own church’s veniality, corruption, and “spiritual lassitude,” (shades of Rum Doodle), making the Counter-reformation not just an anti-Protestant movement, but also a reforming movement within the Church.

Ignatius died in Rome of the “Roman Fever” (malaria), and is the patron saint of (among others) the Jesuits (duh), and the Basque country.

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

July 31 (Wikipedia)
Lunar Roving Vehicle (Wikipedia)
Germanus of Auxerre (Wikipedia) – Main source
Saint Germanus of Auxerre (SQPN)
Ignatius of Loyola (Wikipedia) – Main source
Saint Ignatius of Loyola (SQPN)
Society of Jesus (Wikipedia)
Both images from Wikimedia (public domain)