St. Ignatius Loyola – the Iconography

In Rome, the natal day not his birthday but the day of his death, when he was "born again" into Heaven of St. Ignatius, priest and confessor. He founded the Society of Jesus and was a renowned for his sanctity, his miracles, and his diligence in spreading the Catholic religion everywhere. Pope Pius XI declared him heavenly patron of all spiritual exercises. – Roman Martyrology for July 31

The Spanish painting at right claims to be a vera effigies or true picture of "Don Ignacio de Loyola" as a soldier, which is what he was as a young man. Most other images of the saint have him in a black cassock and roman collar, as above. Many add a black cape and/or a badge with the letters IHS, adapting a Greek abbreviation of the name Jesus. A few images portray him in the chasuble that priests wear at mass, as in the second picture at right.

The saint was on his way from Vicenza to Rome when he had a vision in which Christ told him "I will be favorable to you at Rome" In Rome shortly afterwards Loyola and his companions formed themselves into a religious order that the Pope approved in 1540. The vision is the subject of numerous paintings (example). Another vision earlier in his life, of the Madonna and the Christ Child, is pictured less often.

Prepared in 2019 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.


Lazzarini, The Savior Embraces St. Ignatius Loyola. For details, see the description page.

OTHER IMAGES (Click for full image and description):

A contemporary portrait (See the description page.)

Rubens's painting of Ignatius Loyola in a chasuble. (See the description page.)

The Trinity receives Ignatius Loyola into Heaven (See the description page.)


  • Feast day: July 31
  • Born approximately 1491
  • Died 1556