Curing the Illnesses of the Soul
15 November 2017
At one time, when a young Jesuit finished his novitiate and started his studies of philosophy and theology, he was entrusted with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to be used as a rule of life. It came with a booklet in Latin: Industriae pro superioribus ad curandos animae morbos, written by Fr. Claudio Acquaviva (1543-1615). Pope Francis donated a copy of a recent edition of that volume, Remedies for Curing the Illnesses of the Soul, to each of his collaborators in the Roman Curia at their meeting for Christmas greetings on December 22, 2016.
Claudio Acquaviva d’Aragona was born in Atri, Abruzzo, on September 14, 1543, the younger son of Giannantonio Donato, the Ninth Duke of Atri, and Isabella Spinelli. Being the younger son he was guided toward religious life, and he studied law and Church history in Perugia, where he began reading the works of the Church Fathers, a lifelong undertaking. In his 20s, he became a papal servant of Popes Pius IV and Pius V, and as a member of the papal antechamber, he met Fr. Francis Borgia, the third superior general of the Society, as well as Fr. Juan Alfonso de Polanco, the former secretary of St. Ignatius. They inspired him to love the Society of Jesus, which he entered on July 22, 1567, welcomed by St. Francis Borgia. During his novitiate, he was together with his cousin, Blessed Rodolfo Acquaviva, a martyr in India, and St. Stanislaus Kostka.