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Franciscan Influences on Saint Ignatius of Loyola
St. Ignatius of Loyola’s devotion to St. Peter is fairly well known, but few know that at the time of his conversion, St. Francis of Assisi was for him the most familiar of saints, as Franciscan experiences had marked his boyhood in Azpeitia (1491-1507), the youthful years spent at the court of Germaine de Foix in Arévalo (1507-16), and those lived in service with the Duke of Nájera, viceroy of Navarre (1517-21).

Let us begin with Azpeitia. It was during Ignatius’ childhood, between 1496 and 1507, that Peter de Hoz, an Observant Franciscan from the convent of Bermeo (Biscay), came to the town of Loyola to receive as regular tertiaries of Saint Francis two ladies of the town, the elder of whom, Doña Maria de Emparan y Loyola, was Ignatius’ cousin. In the history of Guipúzcoa this fact is of some importance because the Franciscan convent of the Immaculate Conception, built in Azpeitia by Ignatius’ cousin, was – after the Augustinian convent in San Sebastian – the first convent of nuns in the whole province of Guipúzcoa.

At the ceremony of the profession of Doña Maria, held in 1504 in the small church of San Pedro de Elormendi, attended by one of the most famous Basque Franciscans of the Cisnerian reform, friar Martin de Segura, were the gentlemen of Loyola, close relatives of Doña Maria, who were moreover patrons of the parish. Since Ignatius still lived with them in the tower-house, he undoubtedly heard panegyrics in honor of the Saint of Assisi and visited his Franciscan cousin.
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