A FEW NAMES
Retreat House itself and a number of sites at Manresa are named
for important places in the life of St.
Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits.
the time of Ignatius, when a man was about to dedicate himself
to knightly service, it was the custom for him to confess his
sins and to spend a night in a Vigil of Arms, staying awake in
chapel standing and kneeling all night long. Once Ignatius had
decided to set aside the past and dedicate himself entirely to
God, he went from Loyola Castle across the north of Spain to the
Monastery of Montserrat about 40 miles west of Barcelona, there
to confess and keep vigil before the ancient image of Our Lady
a small prayer chapel here,
we have a full-size image of Our Lady of Montserrat. Before it
lies a sword, symbolic of the life Ignatius gave up. For many
of our retreatants it has also become a symbol of some element
of their own lives that they need to leave behind.
was the intention of Ignatius after leaving Montserrat to go to
the Holy Land to help souls. But the port of Barcelona
from which he would have had to sail was plague-ridden, and he
was not permitted to enter the city. He stayed instead for the
next ten months at the small town of Manresa, about ten miles
from Montserrat. It was probably called Minorisa under the Romans.
He was led to keep a record of his spiritual experiences there
for the sake of helping others, and these notes grew into what
is known today as The Spiritual Exercises, the basis of
the Catholic retreat movement and of all kinds of retreats given
here and at retreat houses around the world. For that reason we
and many of those houses are named for this small city that has
since grown to a population of some 40,000.
outside Manresa there was a small cave, a place of solitude, to
which Ignatius resorted throughout these months, praying, and
fasting and experiencing God in a personal and transforming way.
The cave is now decorated with bronze, stained glass and marble,
and the Jesuit retreat house there is built adjacent to and over
the site. A number of pilgrimages led by our staff have had the
privilege of celebrating mass in the tiny cave. On the second
floor of our main house, there is a small
prayer chapel, popular with retreatants, called the Cave Chapel
in remembrance of this other cave at the original Manresa.
cave sat beside the Cardoner River that runs through the town
of Manresa. On the banks of this river Ignatius had some of his
most profound mystical experiences. On our grounds here a small
prayer chapel stands beside the main branch of the young Rouge
River. Its waterwheel dips into the stream where a small waterfall
provides a constant background murmur. We call it the Cardoner
Chapel after the river of Ignatius's experience.
1537, on his way to Rome, just a few miles outside the city itself,
Ignatius stopped to pray at a small deserted chapel at a place
called La Storta. In a vision there that was a watershed in his
life he saw God the Father placing him with Christ, and he heard
Christ telling him that he would be favorable to Ignatius and
his companions in the Holy City. A former gatekeeper's house at
the back entrance to our property is called La Storta in memory
of this key point in Ignatius's life.