Íñigo López de Loyola was born in the ancestral castle of the Loyolas, in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa, in 1491. The youngest son of a noble family, Íñigo became a page in the service of a relative, Juan Velázquez de Cuéllar, treasurer (contador mayor) of the kingdom of Castile. As a young man Íñigo had a great love for military exercises as well as a tremendous desire for fame.
In 1509, at the age of 18, Íñigo took up arms for Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Nájera. His diplomacy and leadership qualities earned him the title "servant of the court", which made him very useful to the Duke.
During the Battle of Pamplona in 1521 he was gravely injured when a cannonball hit him in the legs, wounding his right leg and fracturing the left in multiple places. Íñigo was returned to his father's castle in Loyola where he underwent several surgical operations to repair his legs. During his recovery from surgery, Íñigo underwent a spiritual conversion which led to his experiencing a call to religious life. Íñigo came to read a series of religious texts on the life of Jesus and on the lives of the saints, inspiring him to devote himself to God and follow the example of Francis of Assisi and other great monks.
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