The Ignatian Legacy in Manresa

On the 25th March 1522, Ignatius of Loyola left Montserrat on his way to Manresa. The ten months he spent in the capital of the Bages region was the period which shaped his Christian faith, and left its mark as an important chapter in the history of the city, which will be commemorated in 2022 with the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of his stay.

To relive his experiences in Manresa, we should first go the Puente Viejo, a bridge that dates back to the 12TH century and which was partially damaged during the Civil War. The restoration work that was carried out in the 1960s has managed to conserve its medieval character, and the bridge now allows us to emulate Saint Ignatius in his contemplation of the river Cardener, which runs below the Cave of Saint Ignatius, the most important among the many Ignatian sites in Manresa. It was in this grotto that Ignatius of Loyola underwent the mystical experience that led him to write his famous Spiritual exercises. This is why a Baroque sanctuary was built next to the humble cave in 1759, later converted into a Centre of Spirituality that has become one of the images of Manresa.

Ignatius of Loyola also went to the places that were holy sites in Manresa in the 16TH century: the Basilica of La Seu, in all its Gothic splendour, which at the time stood next to the former Convent of San Domènec , the church of Carme, the hermitage of Sant Pau, the Convent of Santa Clara and the sanctuary of Viladordis, which stands outside the town itself. All of these places were visited by Ignatius as he grew steadily weaker in body (due to his fasting and penitence), while his spirit grew stronger. 

Another important site in the Manresa of Saint Ignatius is the former Hospital de Santa Lucía, where he lived among the sick. This building was destroyed during the Civil War, and in its place is the Chapel of Rapture, which commemorates the miracle when Saint Ignatius fell into a profound ecstasy that lasted for eight days.

Saint Ignatius was so weak at this time that he eventually became sick. The noble Amigant family took him into their home, where the Chapel of Saint Ignatius the Sick was installed in 1703 (in the Plaza de Sant Ignasi Malalt). The Casa Canyelles, in the Calle Sobrerroca, recalls the saint's connection with another influential local family, because here he was taken in by Miquela Canyelles after his stay in the hospital.

There is another site in Calle Sobrerroca that was the setting of one of Saint Ignatius' miracles in Manresa: the Hen Well. Today there is a chapel to commemorate this event, one of the many that Manresa has in store for the pilgrim who has completed the Ignatian Way. The time that Ignatius of Loyola spent in Manresa was so significant that in 2015 the city opened the new Espai Manresa 1522 as an extension of its Museum, the Museo Comarcal.

Did you know?

The influence that Manresa and the river Cardener had on Ignatius of Loyola was such that the name of the city and the river are known all over the world. As the company of Jesus spread over the world, so both names can now be found in a centre of spirituality in the Congo to a concert hall in Bolivia.

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