We are celebrating an Ignatian year, marking the 500th anniversary of the conversion of the Saint of Loyola. Almost all of us know that his conversion took place while he was infirm and convalescing from a wound caused by a cannon ball during the French attack on the fortress of Pamplona on May 20, 1521. Iñigo wanted to defend it in the name of honor and ideals of loyalty to his king despite the obviously untenable situation. Many also know – since the saint himself speaks of it repeatedly in his Autobiography (A) – that at the time of his conversion he read the lives of Christ and the saints, and this fed his reflections, his prayer and his intentions to change his own life.
In recalling this period, we mostly consider the spiritual and psychological dynamics of what happened in the mind and heart of the wounded man and his personal relationship with God. In this article I instead want to draw attention to an aspect that, although studied by experts, is usually less known, namely, which books Iñigo read and how he read them, for they were to have a fundamental influence on his conversion and the formation of his spirituality.