Jesuits celebrate 400th anniversary of their founder’s canonization

Marco Carvalho

Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier were canonized 400 years ago and, in Macau, the Society of Jesus marked the anniversary last Saturday with a Solemn Mass that took place at the Church of Saint Joseph’s Seminary. The celebrations of the Ignatian Year will come to a close on the 31st of July, but until then, the local Jesuits still have several initiatives on the agenda. The next one takes place on April 9th

Last Saturday, the Society of Jesus celebrated the 400th anniversary of the canonizations of Saint Ignatius de Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier, in what was seen as the highlight of the Ignatian Year celebrations. In Macau, the anniversary was observed with the celebration of a Solemn Mass at the Church of Saint Joseph’s Seminary. The ceremony was presided over by Bishop Stephen Lee.

The celebration, which brought together the small Jesuit community of Macau and the many lay collaborators that the Society of Jesus has in the Special Administrative Region, led the Ignatian Year celebrations, Father Fernando Azpiroz told O Clarim: “According to the instructions of our Superior General, this Mass marked the climax of the celebrations. It was the climax of a single process. We are not celebrating two separate events. Our Superior General wanted to initiate the Ignatian Year with the celebration of the conversion of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. One of the elements of conversion is holiness. The two things are related,” the Argentine priest illustrates. “Both aspects are the product of God’s action on a person, on the community. We started with the conversion and, in this dialogue between God and Ignatius – or between God and Francis Xavier – in the end, what emerged was holiness. But holiness is the result of God’s work, not the work of men. The two things are, however, related and canonization is, basically, the celebration of God’s triumph,” the current Superior of the Society of Jesus in Macau said. 

The Ignatian Year, which began on May 20th, 2021 and will last until July 31st, commemorates a personal transformation – the conversion of Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola – that changed the history of the Church forever. In Macau, the fruits of this transformation have been celebrated and observed over the last few months. The Society of Jesus promoted various initiatives, based on four major apostolic preferences. Until July 31st, the day of the Solemnity of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the life and spiritual legacy of the founder of the Jesuits will be celebrated again, not once, but twice: “We will soon organize an activity related to one of the Universal Apostolic Preferences, that of listening to the cry of the Earth and try to find ways to collaborate with the others to take care of our common home. This activity will take place on April 9th, at Casa Ricci, in Coloane. In three weeks’ time,” Father Fernando Azpiroz told O Clarim. “Then, the last activity is aimed at our youth. Its objective is to guide the youth, so that we can build a more hopeful future together. This activity takes place in June at Hoi Sing school and is the last activity of the Ignatian Year. The year ends with the celebration of the feast of Saint Ignatius, on July 31st. It will be the end of a very intense year, with many activities,” the Superior of the Society of Jesus in Macau added.