In the footsteps of St. Ignatius

August 03, 2018

In 1522, St. Ignatius of Loyola began an expedition that changed his life. From his home in Loyola—in the Basque region of Spain— he journeyed on foot to the monastery at Montserrat. At the monastery, St. Ignatius offered his sword to Our Lady and the Child Jesus. From there, he continued to Manresa where he began a life of prayer, service, poverty and repentance.

In April 2018, Basic Education  faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila University set out on a  journey retracing the path of St. Ignatius. Journeying with St. Ignatius took them to Rome, Spain, and France. Their pilgrimage Chaplain was Fr. Jun Bugtas  S.J.

At the Jesuit Curia in Rome with Fr.Danny Huang S.J. and Fr. Jojo Magadia S.J.

In commemoration of the Feast of St. Ignatius, the pilgrims reflect on the journey that allowed them to walk in his footsteps and experience God’s love.
 Noel Miranda
Ateneo de Manila Senior High School
St. Ignatius taught us that serving and loving God meant serving and loving His Church. During the pilgrimage, I realized that following the path of St Ignatius meant choosing to deepen in my own love for the Church and opening myself to receive this grace. This grace, I believe, was nourished within me throughout the pilgrimage not only by visiting key Ignatian sites but also by visiting places that were significant to us as Catholics: Vatican City, the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Benedictine Monastery at Montserrat, and Lourdes, France. One way, indeed, to understand the words “stay on the path” is to deepen and embrace the Faith all the more.

At the General Papal Audience, St. Peter’s Square

Remy Rivera
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
During our pilgrimage, we too were blessed with Mother Mary’s nurturing and personal care. Day after day, she helped us notice and experience God’s loving presence. She brought us to people who helped us during our trip and even months before we flew out of the Philippines. She prayed for our safety and good health. She interceded for us to be blessed with good weather. She prayed for our continued joy, patience and sense of humor.  She helped us to take care of each other.  She encouraged us to persevere in our prayer.

Ariel Tamayo with Our Lady of Montserrat

Ammi Solmerin
Ateneo Junior High School
The pilgrimage turned us into friends- making ourselves vulnerable to each other by sharing our innermost fears, pains, hopes and desires. We became Ignatian sons and daughters, brothers and sisters in the Lord who allow Jesus to love us despite everything and allowing Him to love every single soul we come in contact with.

Outside the Room of St. Ignatius in Rome

Pinky Escarez
Ateneo de Manila Senior High School
I am not in this photo. But I was struck by the sheer childlike joy of my fellow pilgrims as they posed in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. In most photos of our pilgrimage, I am usually at the back or not in them altogether. I guess because I needed to step back and try hard to objectively see from the sidelines that I was indeed there and not merely dreaming. I had to see the happy faces of my fellow pilgrims who were always in awe of the sights we saw. Barcelona may not exactly be directly related to the life of St. Ignatius but the earlier trip we had to Park Guell and to the house of Antoni Gaudi gave me a glimpse of the life of a man who clearly personified Magis. A pious genius who spared no time nor cost in building his masterpiece of an homage to the Holy Family. One need not read a biography to know the life of Jesus as told by the magnificent exterior and interior of the basilica. This reminds me of St. Ignatius when he said to find God in all things. Every nook and cranny of the Sagrada Familia is a vision of the life of Christ, as told by an artist who practically spent his entire life building a marvel in honor and praise of Jesus. 

At Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Mavic dela Cruz
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
This pilgrimage was indeed an unforgettable trip that I will cherish for a lifetime. I have become more aware of God's love through the amazing places we explored. I have loved listening to the sharing of one's life during our short reflection sessions. I have encountered myself journeying with St. Ignatius and Mother Mary as I walked through the paths they took. My heart is full of joy and gratefulness as I have seen with my own eyes the things, places, sacred spaces that I have only read in books and seen on TV and the theater. Everything was beyond my expectation.

At Montserrat

Penny Llanera
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
I thought I knew everything about the life of St. Ignatius. I taught him to my grade school students and heard about him every July and during retreats for the past 20 plus years. But somehow, when the invitation came to join the first ever Ignatian pilgrimage for Basic Education, I strongly felt I couldn’t let it pass. So I joined and what a wonderful experience it was!
Following his footsteps, seeing the actual place of his birth-the Holy House, the family land, the businesses they had, the cave at Manresa, the long walk as a pilgrim to Montserrat, the actual sword he offered to our Lady, his small and simple office in Rome. . . made me see how much he gave up to follow the Lord’s call. It really was a 180 degrees conversion for him.
As a Jesuit lay collaborator, I now more than ever appreciate this man and saint. I also have a better understanding of Ignatian spirituality. I am truly grateful that I was able to join the 2018 Ignatian pilgrimage, a real blessing to commemorate my years of service in the Ateneo.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge that the journey was fun and memorable because of the warmth and openness of my co-pilgrims and all those who took the journey with us. Indeed, blessings overflowed.

Frohnee Marbella
Ateneo de Manila Grade School

St. Ignatius was leading the way, helping me find God in all things and events I encountered. His special devotion to Our Lady of Montserrat brought me to the mountains and it was a breathtaking experience. On the 12th and 13th day of the journey, a special gift from God made me experience a milestone on my 60th natal day! I was not only travelling with St. Ignatius but with Our Lady as well as we visited the grotto of the apparition in Lourdes, France and participated in the Marian procession at night! I also took a bath and submerged in the holy water and felt so spiritually cleansed.  A warm feeling of being protected and cared for by the tender loving presence of Our Lady.
Lallie Rivera
Ateneo de Manila Junior High School

The Chapel of Conversion at St. Ignatius’ home in Loyola, Spain

The place in St. Ignatius’ home called the Chapel of Conversion was his former bedroom.  It was here where the young Inigo turned to God to offer Him his life which eventually made him give up all his possessions.  When we visited this room, I realized that like St. Ignatius, I had always wanted to follow Christ. However, I failed many times to do so because of my attachment to material blessings. Letting go of life’s comforts is a struggle I need to overcome. Through the intercession of our patron saint, I will have to continue seeking the grace to triumph over this personal battle.

Celebration of the Eucharist at the Chapel of the Conversion in Loyola

Mikee Soriano
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
During and after the pilgrimage, I walked with a heart full of gratitude for the experiences as we followed the footsteps of St. Ignatius- seeking to find God in all things. To eat, to pray and to love are indeed precious and blessed gifts. “In Omnibus Amare et Servire Domino”

Grace Yn
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
Sa kuweba sa Manresa, natutunan kong patawarin din ang sarili ko.  Sabi nga ni Fr. Jun, Manresa is all about cleansing.  St Ignatius keeps going back to his worldly and sinful ways. St. Ignatius cannot seem to forgive himself because he keeps sinning.  Kaya siguro ang tagal niya sa cave! Ako rin, pabalik-balik sa cave noong mga araw na nasa Cova kami.  Sa kuweba, sabi ko sa sarili ko, pilgrim na ako, on a quest for my God.  Lalo pang pinagtibay ng gospel reading (Annunciation) at ng ilang signs ang dinanas sa Montserrat.  Mas personal at spirituwal na sa akin ang biyahe. Di na lang basta patingin-tingin, pafeel-feel na rin, kung baga. Sa pagpunta pa sa mga sumunod na mahahalagang lugar kay San Ignacio, bukod sa mas nakiisa ako sa kanyang pinagdaanan, mas dama ko ang presensya ng Panginoon

Oni Gargaritano
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
I came home from the pilgrimage with so much love and gratitude in my heart. 

Oni at Manresa

Ignatius’ weaknesses and struggles filled him with negativity and fear. He felt unworthy and had difficulty forgiving himself.  With God’s unconditional and steadfast love, he received and felt the gift of forgiveness and conversion.  Just like Ignatius, I am also ashamed of my sins and mistakes in life. I get scared and insecure, too. But it gives me inner peace and joy that God shows me that I am loved. That is enough for me and I choose to share this love with other people.  

Bles Mallillin
Ateneo de Manila Grade School
The Ignatian Pilgrimage turned out to be the best experience to cap my years in Ateneo. This was a perfect “retirement gift.” I’ve been in Ateneo since college and I really thought that I’ve known St Ignatius from the heart. The first hand experience of going through the “journey” like and with St. Ignatius really gave me a wonderful realization of this great saint who gave up everything to follow and love God. The “worn out” shoes of St. Ignatius in his simple room in Rome remind me of the long and difficult path he took and was much humbled with my own journey in life.  Journeying also with a Jesuit and fellow Jesuit lay partners was all grace, all of us experiencing God’s abundant blessings and realizing that we are loved. I’m truly grateful and blessed.