The mark of Saint Ignatius


The final stages of the Ignatian Way pass through the heart of Catalonia, crossing counties such as Anoia and Bages. The final kilometres before reaching the Cave of Saint Ignatius, in Manresa, give us the opportunity to complete a spiritual and introspective journey while at the same time visiting different places that are related with the life of the saint. Let's take a look at them!

In Igualada, the city where tradition tells us that Ignatius of Loyola took off his soldier's equipment and bought more humble garments, there is a great Ignatian monument: the Basílica de Santa María. This is a Gothic and Renaissance style temple located in the centre of the city. Inside it there is the chapel of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, where the saint is shown in a recumbent posture. Also in the outskirts of Igualada we can visit the 11th century Romanesque chapel of Sant Jaume Sesoliveres, a reminder of the time when pilgrims trekked across Anoia, some of them walking the Way of Saint James and those who were walking the Ignatian Way. 

Another site of monuments on the Ignatian Way is the mountain of Montserrat. Inside the basilica of the monastery there is a magnificent sculpture of Saint Ignatius of Loyola by the sculptor Rafael Solanic. The inscription is worth noting, as it refers to the night that the saint spent praying in front of the Virgin Mary, on the 25th March 1522. The round slab of black marble in front of the sculpture marks the spot where the altar of the old Romanesque church used to stand, which was exactly where the saint spent his vigil in Montserrat. 
 

Eleven months to remember

Most of the monuments dedicated to Saint Ignatius can be found at the final destination of our route: Manresa, a city which had a very important role in the thoughts of Ignatius. It was here, more than half a millennia ago, that Ignatius of Loyola spent eleven intense months performing his spiritual exercises.

The monuments that we can see in the city's squares and streets are a heartfelt homage to the saint and the legacy of his spiritual achievements. To start, we can visit the chapel of Sant Ignaci Malalt, which is in the interior of a building where the Amigant family used to maintain a small hospital to tend to poor folk like Ignatius, who stayed there in 1522, when he was recovering from an illness. Not far from this chapel we can find other sites related with Ignatius, such as the local Museum (the former College of Saint Ignatius), or the Rapto Chapel (the former Hospital of Santa Llúcia), which is a reminder of one of the miracles performed by the saint: a spiritual rapture which kept him immobile for eight days.

Other monuments that recall the time that Saint Ignatius spent in Manresa are the Casa Canyelles, the building where the saint lived for a time after leaving the Hospital de Santa Llúcia, and the Pou de la Gallina, a well from which, legends say, the saint rescued a hen that had fallen in. One of the most celebrated Ignatian sites, however, is the Basilica of La Seu. This is Manresa's largest monument, an impressive Gothic church with a valuable collection of altarpieces inside it. Finally, there is the Cave of Saint Ignatius, which is the final point of the pilgrimage. 

Don't miss it! The treasures of the Cave of Saint Ignatius

The cave of Saint Ignatius is the place where the saint wrote down his famous Spiritual Exercises. An alabaster altarpiece by Joan Grau shows the image of the Saint writing. Other treasures in the cave are the stained glass windows that show parchments where the saint’s words are written, bronze reliefs by Flotats, and mosaics with historical figures who have completed the exercises. There are also two bronze angels on the ceiling that were sculpted by Josep Llimona


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