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The complete tour of Ignatian and Jesuit Rome

This tour includes 23 sites.

Piazza del Gesu

(Holy Name of Jesus Square)
Ignatius and the first companions lived in three different places in Rome before they found the location that satisfied their needs and matched their vision of the new kind of religious order they were beginning. The older monastic orders tended to select locations near the city walls, at a safe remove from the bustle of the city. Ignatius wanted to be at the heart of things in the very center of the city. His emphasis was not on preserving the calm life of a religious cloister, but in reaching out to people and inviting them to talk about God and think about what they might do in the city to respond to God's call.

The city of Rome was gradually being rebuilt after centuries of medieval decay and, more immediately, after the destruction of much of the city in 1527 by unpaid veterans of Charles V's Imperial Army. By 1530, the population of Rome had dropped lower than 30,000.

Pope Paul III (1534-1549) was instrumental in fortifying the city and helping new areas develop. Roman life centered around the papal court which at that time was frequently in residence in the Palazzo Venezia (San Marco), just a block away from the Piazza Altieri, which was later renamed the Piazza del Gesú.
The Piazza Altieri was on the papal processional route from the Vatican to the Lateran. Via del Gesu was widened during Paul III's reign to link the Piazza Altieri and S. Maria Sopra Minerva so that carnival processions could pass from the Campidoglio to the Pantheon.
Ignatius used to teach catechism in front of the palazzo of the Maddaleni Capodiferro family on the corner formed by the Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the Via del Gesu (northwest corner of the piazza). He came to appreciate the location near the commercial heart of the developing city and just around the corner from the papal residence. The city government was one block away, the large Jewish community two blocks.
"The piazza where Ignatius established his headquarters was a traffic breakwater in the flow of streets. It was a place where papal and civic processions slowed, where people gathered to gossip, shop and pass the time of day. And perhaps to drop into church--especially if they were offered intelligent preaching and good confessors."
[Thomas Lucas, S.J., Saint, Site and Sacred Strategy, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1990, p. 31]

It was the perfect spot for the "ministries of the Word" that Ignatius and the companions set themselves to perform. A small church called Our Lady of the Wayside provided a starting point for the companions.
In 1544 Ignatius moved into the house he had built "in the shadow of the Campidoglio on the Via Papale, at the intersection of Piazza Altieri and Via Aracoeli, one block from the papal residence at Palazzo S. Marco. From the windows of his simple apartment overlooking the largest open space on the parade route between the Vatican and the Lateran, Ignatius, champion of the papacy, could salute his neighbor the pope passing below in solemn procession."
[from Lucas, S.J., Landmarking: City, Church and Jesuit Urban Strategy, (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1997).]

Casa del Gesu

Gesu Residence and the Rooms of Ignatius; Location: Piazza del Gesu, adjoining the church

The Gesu Church and its adjoining residence are rich in memories of the life of Ignatius. The present buildings and their predecessors witnessed formative moments in the development of the Society of Jesus.

The Church of Our Lady of the Wayside.
Our Lady of the Wayside was in such a dilapidated condition when Ignatius and the companions arrived that, according to Father Salmeron, those who dared to enter must "assuredly be predestined." The buildings themselves were run down and too small for the number of people attracted to the first Jesuits, but the location made up for other defects and Ignatius hoped to replace it with a more suitable structure.
Within two months of the written approval of the Society, Father Pietro Codacio used his influence at the papal court to obtain title to the small chapel, which had been built by the Astalli family as a burial chapel. Codacio had joined the companions in 1539 and was the first Italian to do so. He was canon of Lodi and chamberlain of Clement VII before becoming a Jesuit; Ignatius put him in charge of the physical necessities of the community and made him the chief real estate agent, continually looking for new property as the Society developed.
Our Lady of the Wayside was a parish church, and in 1542 Ignatius accepted possession of it as its pastor (parish priest). After the 1544 deliberation over poverty in the Society, the determination that the Society would have no steady income led to transferring the parish with its revenues to the Basilica of St. Mark, about 200 meters to the east. Parishioners were free to continue receiving the sacraments without stole fees in the former parish church.

The Astalli House
The Astalli house next to S. Maria della Strada was Ignatius' fourth Roman residence and the site of important events in the early years of the companions. The companions moved into rented rooms in 1541 and stayed until they moved into the first building the Society of Jesus ever built; see below, the rooms of Ignatius. The Astalli house stood on a site that is now inside the Gesu Church, near the chapel of Our Lady of the Wayside and the tomb of Ignatius.
The first companions met in the Astalli house in March and April of 1541 to elect the first Superior General, prior to making their solemn profession. After fixing some constitutional norms (the "Constitutions of 1541"), they unanimously elected Ignatius Father General on April 8, but he abstained from voting: "opening all the ballots, one after the other, with no one to the contrary, all the votes fell upon Ignatius."
Ignatius, upon the advice of his confessor, Fray Teodosio da Lodi (see notes on #17) accepted on April 19.
In this same house Ignatius prayed and deliberated over the way the Society would live religious poverty (February-March 1544). Here he wrote the most important part of his Spiritual Diary, the private record of 40 days of spiritual illumination in regard to decisions on poverty.
Here also, it seems, he composed the "Constitutions regarding missions," which form the nucleus of Part VII of the definitive Constitutions.

The Rooms of Ignatius

The fifth and final residence of Ignatius in Rome

On the corner of the block where Via d'Ara Coeli meets Via di San Marco (100 meters south of the church), Father Codacio built the house where Ignatius went to live in 1544. Prince Fabricio Massimi called Ignatius' fifth and final residence in Rome, "a dumpy house, rather like a shack."
The thick plastered walls were haphazardly constructed of dressed and rough stone intermixed with brick; low beam and plank ceilings of unfinished oak and ash; floors of yellow, unglazed tile. Originally, the residence housed 30 Jesuits, but it was continually expanded so that by 1556, when Ignatius died, approximately 80 Jesuits lived in several connecting wings, floors and adjoining houses. The rooms of Ignatius were the top floor of the residence.
From this simple house Ignatius governed the world-wide society, sending out over 7,000 letters on topics ranging from spiritual experience to real estate needed for new colleges and churches. Here Ignatius also wrote the second Formula of the Institute (1550) and composed the Constitutions (1549-1553).
Here Ignatius died, and his companions gathered to elect the second superior general.
"In the same room where God our Lord called our Father Ignatius from temporal life to eternal" his immediate successor Diego Lainez was elected General on July 2, 1558. The choice of place expressed the feelings and prayers of the bereaved Society: "because all wished the Divine Goodness to give them a successor similar to him (Father Ignatius)."

The "Casa Professa"
The current Gesu Residence was constructed between 1599-1602 and encompassed the entire block bounded by the church, Via degli Astalli, Via S. Marco and Via d'Ara Coeli. It had rooms for 145 residents and served as the "Curia Generalis" or international headquarters of the Society of Jesus until the Society was suppressed in 1773; and then from the restoration in 1814 until the risorgimento of 1873. It now houses two communities: an international community of Jesuits studying theology and a community of the Italian Province.
The original rooms of Ignatius are shown in white in the side view above. The Pozzo coridor is to their right. The Casa Professa of 1599 encased the rooms that had originally been the top floor of the original Jesuit residence in Rome.
This "new residence" replaced the small house of 1544 after a severe flood in 1598 damaged its foundations. Jesuits realized the historical significance of the four rooms where Ignatius had written the Constitutions and the thousands of letters he sent to Jesuits around the world, where the first General Congregation was held, and where Ignatius died. To preserve Ignatius' apartment, builders used large pillars to support the rooms and then encased them within the much larger new building.
The rooms were renovated in 1990 for the 500th Anniversary of the birth of St. Ignatius and are open to the public. In addition to the rooms themselves, a permanent exhibit and the famous corridor painted by Jesuit artist Andrea Pozzo witness to the devotion in which Ignatius continues to be held.

Some historical vignettes:
--Ignatius frequently celebrated Mass in the church of Our Lady of the Wayside. On September 4, 1549, he received the vows of profession of Peter Canisius. In this moment Canisius felt that the Holy Spirit would come upon the vowed Jesuit as He came down upon the Apostles at Pentecost. "Thus," he added, "I think it was said to me more than once (for all of us) 'Behold I send you in the midst of wolves. Go preach the gospel to all creation.'" (Confessiones).
-- When Ignatius was elected General, he began to teach catechism in Our Lady of the Way church. Pedro de Ribadeneira, then 14 years of age, called his attention to how badly he spoke Italian. Ignatius asked him to take notes on his mistakes. But the youngster soon grew weary; he saw that "it was necessary to correct the whole manner of speaking, because either the word he used or the structure or the pronunciation was Spanish." Whatever the mistakes, Ribadeneira recalled, the holy man spoke with such fervor and with face so lit up that flames seemed to come forth and set hearts afire.
-- In Our Lady of the Way church were held in October and November of 1553 the solemn "Conclusions" (or lecture-discussions) on theology and philosophy that preceded the inauguration of the Roman College's program of higher education.

-- Sept. 14, 1554 had been set as departure date of the Jesuit missionaries to Ethiopia -- Bishops Andres de Oviedo and Melchior Carneiro, and other fathers and brothers. Ignatius had them get ready -- long cloaks, spurs on their feet, their mounts lined up on the piazza. Then he asked if they were missing anything.
"No," they answered.
"Well, then," he said to the men he could not hope to see again on earth, "since you have no further preparations to make, let us take this afternoon and all tomorrow for a good and proper leave taking of one another."

-- "The method he observed when writing the Constitutions was to say Mass each day and present to God the point he was then treating, and to spend his period of prayer on this topic; and it was always with tears in his eyes that he made this prayer and said Mass" (Autobiography)

-- Father Goncalves da Camara left an invaluable description of Ignatius' life of prayer in his rooms during the final years of his life. He rose and said the prayers which served as commutation for the Breviary-- a commutation given because the flow of tears during the recitation of the office affected his eyesight. "Then he went into the chapel next to his bedroom to hear Mass on those days on which he did not say it.
After Mass, he remained in silent prayer for two hours. And, lest he be disturbed, he gave orders that all messages that came to the porter's lodge for him should be given instead to me, Father Minister. Some of these messages, because of their urgency or because of the persons who deserved an immediate response, I had to take to him in the chapel. I recall that every time I had to do so, and there were many times, I found him with countenance so radiant that, going along with my attention and imagination absorbed in the message, when I saw him, I stood there astonished, beside myself. For his face was not like that I have seen in many devout persons at prayer, but rather it seemed clearly celestial and most extraordinary."

--During the night before Ignatius died, Brother Canizaro who attended him heard him sigh: "Oh, my God."
"At sunrise," Polanco, his secretary, recorded, "we found Father in his last agony. So with haste I went to St. Peter's, to the Pope (Paul IV), who showed himself much grieved, and gave his benediction and all he was empowered to grant, affectionately. And so almost two hours after sunrise (that is, about 7 a.m.), in the presence of Father Christopher de Madrid end Master Andre des Freux, (Father Ignatius) gave his soul to his Creator and Lord without any struggle."

Chiesa del Gesu

(Holy Name of Jesus Church)
(Holy Name of Jesus Church)
Location: Piazza del Gesu

The Gesu is the Mother church of the Jesuits and served as an architectural and pastoral pattern for Jesuit churches that were set up throughout Europe and in the new missions Jesuits established in other countries.
Ignatius dreamed of a large downtown church that could accommodate sacraments, preaching, lectures, music and drama; but work did not even begin until after his death. He tried three times to build a new church and even enlisted an aging Michelangelo to draw up plans. In 1554, Michelangelo accepted the commission "solely out of devotion, without any interest" or compensation. Construction had to be halted because of opposition from the neighbors, including the Astalli family. Ignatius preferred to have peace and to hope for more propitious circumstances.
In 1568 work began on a plan designed by Nanni di Baccio Bigio who envisioned a large single nave that provided a large hall for preaching and a shallow sanctuary that made the sacraments more visible to churchgoers. Francis Borgia, the third superior general, used diplomacy, political pressure and money to buy out the Astalli, Altieri and Muti families who had blocked the project. He also secured Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Paul III, as the major benefactor of the new church.
Farnese made construction possible but he also forced the Jesuits to accept a barrel vault for the ceiling, instead of the flat roof that Jesuits wanted because it provided better acoustics. The church was also designed as a theatrical space. Brother Andrea Pozzo designed huge scrims that blocked off the sanctuary and served as backdrops for complex pageants. Choir stalls line the upper story of both side walls of the church and enabled small groups of singers to perform "stereophonic" works composed specifically for liturgies in the Gesu.
The chapel of Ignatius contains the remains of Ignatius. The church also features the large ceiling mural by Giovanni Batista Gaulli, "Adoration of the Name of Jesus" (1676-1679).

Near the Gesu

Palazzo Venezia
(Venice Palace)
Location: Piazza Venezia

The Palazzo Venezia was the summer residence of the popes in the time of Ignatius, who must have been received in audience here on a number of occasions. The bull of approval of the Society --Regimini miIitantis eoclesiae (1540)-- was dated at the Palazzo Venezia; as was the brief of approval of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius-- Pastoralis officii (1548).

(5) Via del Gesu
Midway along this street -- near the Church of San Stefano del Cacco which fronts on the Via di San Stefano del Cacco -- was the second location of the Roman College (1551-1557). Here the chairs of philosophy and theology were inaugurated, Nov. 6, 1553. The first doctorate in theology was conferred Feb. 6, 1556. And here, after a triduum given by Jerome Nadal, the first ceremony of renovation of vows took place, Jan. 6, 1557. The scholastics were divided into three groups for renewing their vows at Masses celebrated by Fathers Bobadilla, Nadal and Polanco.
At the end of the Via del Gesu, turn right into the Via del Pie di Marmo (Marble Foot). Near the present-day site of the "Marble Foot" stood the two rented houses in which Ignatius placed the newly founded German College in 1552. Then in 1553, after being housed for a few months in the Palazzo dei Cesarini (Largo Argentina), the growing college was moved to a large rented house between San Stefano del Cacco and St. John's Church on the Piazza della Pigna, a house which must have almost touched the Via del Gesu.

(6) Santa Marta
(Saint Martha's House)
Location: Piazza del Collegio Romano 3
On this piazza in 1543-44, Ignatius founded a residence for penitent prostitutes. Prostitution was a significant service industry in Rome and was more or less accepted in the fifteenth century, but the advent of syphilis and the changing moral tenor led to sixteenth-century reform movements. In 1520 the Oratorio del Divino Amore had established a convent for former prostitutes, based on the earlier monastic model emphasizing a strict life of penance.
Santa Marta aimed at rehabilitation of former prostitutes and their reintegration into ordinary social life. In a sense, it was similar to what we now call "half-way houses." Among the 170 founding members of the confraternity that administered the work were 15 cardinals, seven bishops, and several ambassadors to the papal court. Leaving financial and material matters to the lay people, Ignatius provided spiritual direction.
Besides a concern for the moral well-being of the women, Ignatius also wanted to reform the Papal Court. When the mistress of the papal postmaster entered Santa Marta, the enraged postmaster began accusing the Jesuits of having their own concubines there. The accusation was serious enough that Ignatius demanded an official investigation; the result was that the Jesuits were cleared of all charges of misconduct.
In 1545 Isabel Roser, the Barcelona benefactress of Ignatius, arrived in Rome and took up the administration of the residence. With papal approval, she made the solemn profession of religious vows in the presence of Ignatius in December 1545. One year later, however, he found it necessary to secure from the Pope a dispensation from the vows and a termination of her connection with the Society.

An historical vignete:
--Father Pedro Ribadeneira described the scene of Ignatius leading to the Residence of Saint Martha some of the women he had rescued:
"When some people told him that women like that, veterans confirmed in vice, easily go back to their former ways..., and so one ought not spend much effort to convert them, Father Ignatius responded: 'By no means. If all my efforts and concern could persuade only one of them not to sin for one night out of love for Jesus Christ, I would omit no effort whereby just for that time at least she would not offend God even though I knew that afterwards she would return again to the former ways.'"

Collegio Romano

Location: Piazza del Collegio Romano

The building now belongs to the government and houses a public school. Visitors can get a good view into the courtyard and see remnants of the astronomy observatory on the school's roof from the walkway leading into the old novitiate which is accessible via an elevator located in the sacristy of the Church of Saint Ignatius. Permission to use the elevator is given by the sacristan.
Ignatius himself founded the Collegio Romano as a seminary for Jesuit students of all nations. The school started in early 1551 in rented rooms at the Campidoglio end of Via Aracoeli but quickly outgrew that spot and moved several times until Pius IV in 1560 persuaded the Marchesa Vittoria della Tolfa, sister of the late paul IV, to donate her palazzo and adjoining property to the Society of Jesus. The palazzo was located on the site of the present Church of S. Ignazio.
Lay students and non-Jesuit seminarians were admitted to the school and strained the facilities of the college until Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 expropriated an entire neighborhood and then paid for the construction of the edifice. He ordered builders to use fired-brick walls instead of simple rubble walls that were more common but less durable.
Saint Robert Bellarmine was rector of the college at the end of the 16th century. Among the Jesuits who lived here during their studies were Aloysius Gonzaga, John Berchmans and Anthony Baldinucci. Their rooms and the chapel of the vows are on the top floor.<

Chiesa di Sant' Ignazio

(Church of Saint Ignatius)
Location: Piazza Sant' Ignazio

p>By the beginning of the 17th century, the small church of S. Annunziata that Jesuit architects had designed and Jesuit students had built by hand to serve the needs of the Collegio Romano could no longer serve the 2,000 students of the college. Jesuits appealed to Gregory XV to help construct on a new and adequately large church on the site of the buildings donated to the Collegio by Marchesa della Tolfa. Endowed by the pope's nephew, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, and members of his family, the cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1626.
Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit professor of mathematics at the Collegio Romano, did the original design for the church, but he was replaced by another Jesuit, Antonio Sasso, who changed the design and became embroiled in controversy with the Dominicans who feared the new church would block the sunlight coming into their library because Sasso's design called for a large cupola. The conflict was resolved when the Jesuits ran out of money and could not afford the cupola. The final resolution was a cupola painted by Andrea Pozzo, a Jesuit famous for his mastery of perspective painting. The flat ceiling appears to soar into the heavens.
In the center on high is Jesus with His cross. A ray of light proceeds from the Heavenly Father to the Heart of Jesus. Saint Ignatius looks and points toward Jesus, from whose heart a ray of light shines upon Ignatius.
Above four pillars of the church are painted symbols of the four parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Saint Francis Xavier is appropriately associated with Asia. Thus the Founder and his companions join in spreading the burning love of Jesus throughout the world. The faithful are assisted to rise toward the central figure of Jesus: vice and heresy are turned down toward the abyss.
Construction of the church continued slowly until the structure was finally consecrated in 1722.

San Andrea al Quirinale

Location: Via del Quirinale

The novitiate is historically important, but many visitors consider the church, designed by Bernini, to be one of the most beautiful churches in all of Rome.
This novitiate of the Society was founded by St. Francis Borgia and served in that capacity from 1566 until 1773 and again from 1814 until 1872. The present church was built between 1658 and 1670.
Among those who were novices here were St. Stanislaus Kostka (1567-68), Rudolph Acquaviva (1568-69), Henry Garnet (1575-77), Peter Berno (1577), St. Robert Southwell (1578), Thomas Cottam (1579), Abraham de Georgis (1582-84), Henry Walpole (1584-85), St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1585-86), David Lewis (1645-46), Anthony Baldinucci (1681-83) and Charles Emmanuel IV, King of Sardinia (1815).
St. Peter Canisius once gave an exhortation here and St. Robert Bellarmine died here Sept. 17, 1621. One can visit here the reconstructed room of St. Stanislaus.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

St. Mary Major Basilica

St. Mary Major was the site of Ignatius' first Mass, which he waited one year after being ordained a priest to celebrate. He had always had a strong devotion to the Nativity of Christ and hoped to offer his first Mass in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity. After circumstances made it impossible for Ignatius and the companions to travel from Venice, where Ignatius was ordained, to Jerusalem, they came to Rome.
Ignatius chose St. Mary Major for his first mass because it housed the relic of the Crib, from the birth of Jesus. The relic (now under the High Altar), used to be kept in the crypt of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel called the "Sistine Chapel" from the name of its donor, Pope Sixtus V. In the crypt Father Ignatius said his first Mass, "with great feeling and divine enlightenment," on Christmas Day of 1538.

Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura

St. Paul's Outside the Walls

This basilica is one of the Seven Churches which Ignatius the pilgrim walked to in 1523. More importantly, it was the place where Ignatius and the five companions who could meet in Rome--Lainez, Salmeron Broet, Jay, Codure--made their solemn vows on April 22, 1541, Friday of Easter Week.
"When we reached St. Paul's," wrote Ignatius, "all six went to confession, one to another. And it was decided that Inigo [Ignatius] should say Mass in the church, and that all the others should receive the Blessed Sacrament from his hand, making their vows in the following manner: Inigo, saying the Mass, Just before Communion, holding in one hand the paper on which the vow formula was written, turned toward the kneeling companions, and said the words of the vows.
"After saying them, he took Communion, receiving the Body of Christ our Lord. When he had finished consuming (the chalice), he placed the five consecrated hosts on the paten and turned to the companions... Each one took the page of vows into his hand... and said the words aloud. When the first had finished, he received the Body of Christ our Lord. Then, in turn, the second did the same; so too the third, fourth, fifth."
Mass was celebrated at the Altar of the Virgin, where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. At that time it was up against the right pillar of the triumphal arch over the Confession.
"When Mass was over," Ignatius continued, "after praying before the indulgenced altars, they came together at the high altar, where each one came to Inigo and he went to each. Giving an embrace and the kiss of peace, not without much devotion, feeling and tears, they brought an end to the ceremony of vows and of the beginning of their vocation."
Pedro Ribadeneira, who accompanied them, spoke of the extraordinary devotion of Pietro Codure; "with such vehement divine consolation that he was unable to hold it in, it came bubbling out... He went ahead in Lainez's company across the fields. We heard him filling the heavens with sighs and tears. He cried out to God in such a way we thought he would pass out..."
Also in St. Paul's, probably at the same altar, Ignatius received the vows of Nicholas Bobadilla a few months later. To overcome Bobadilla's holding back, the saintly Ignatius fasted completely for three days.


Location: the town of Tivoli in the hills outside of Rome

Pius II built the Rocca Pia as a fortress-residence in the middle of the 15th century; there Paul III gave his oral approval of the Society of Jesus in 1539. Ignatius had sent to Cardinal Gaspare Contarini the first version of the Formula of the Institute, known as the "Five Chapters," along with the censor's opinion rendered by Father Tomas Badia, the Dominican "Theologian of the Papal Household" (Magister Sacri Palatii), who declared that the way of life of the Society was "holy and devout."
On Sept. 3 the Cardinal sent back word: "I was with milord the Pope today, and in addition to expressing to him your petition, I read to His Holiness the whole of the Five Chapters. They pleased His Holiness greatly, and he has graciously approved and confirmed them. Friday we will come to Rome... and the order will be given to draw up the brief or bull."
Actually a year went by before the bull "Regimini" was issued. Nadal said that on this occasion Paul III exclaimed, "The Spirit of God is here." Polanco added that the pope said that this Society "has to reform the Church."

An historical vignette: At the beginning of Oct., 1548, Ignatius was in Tivoli to mediate the peace between Tivoli and the nearby town of Castel Madama after their discord had led to violent conflict. The saintly mediator spoke with leading persons in both towns and obtained their agreement to submit to the arbitration of Cardinal Bartolome dela Cueva.
On this occasion Don Luis de Mendoza, a Spanish priest, gave the Society a church with a small house and a bit of a garden, next to the road which goes out from the Porta del Colle. It was a place "very pleasant and apt for withdrawing at times to the quiet of contemplation, as well as for performing charitable service to the farmers and townspeople round-about." The church was dedicated to Our Lady (Santa Maria del Passo).
On Sept. 8, 1549, Ignatius went to Tivoli with other fathers from Rome to take possession. The Mass of the Nativity of Our Lady was celebrated, and a sermon was preached. Don Luis had invited leading citizens to come for "spiritual and temporal refreshment."

La Storta

La Cappella di S. Ignazio di Loyola

In November, 1537, Ignatius was traveling with Peter Faber and James Lainez towards Rome on the road from Sienna. Not too far outside the city, alongside the Via Cassia, the three priests stopped to pray in a small roadside chapel of the type at which pilgrims often paused. The Via Cassia followed an ancient Rome road and was perhaps the most-traveled route for pilgrims to arrive at Rome. In this humble chapel Ignatius had one of the most famous and important visions of a life full of mystical prayer. Jesus appeared carrying his cross while from the Heavens, the Holy Father looked down, and Ignatius heard these confirming words, “I will be propitious to you in Rome.”
Modern pilgrims can easily reach La Storta by taking the train that goes through the station at St. Peter’s. Upon exiting the train station in La Storta, walk ahead one block and the chapel will be right in front of you, alongside the busy modern highway. The chapel is ordinarily locked but the local parish has a key.


In the St. Thomas Chapel (right side of the transept) is the tomb of Pope Paul IV Carafa (1555-1559). Although he had reservations about some details of the Society's Institute, he did not wish to touch anything during the lifetime of Ignatius. To the Collegio Romano Paul IV granted the authority to confer academic degrees even though Rome already had a papal university.
Upon the death of Ignatius, Paul IV had the Constitutions examined, but returned them intact. According to Nadal, this fact was considered a real approval of those Constitutions. Yet, shortly after, Paul IV imposed on the Society the obligation of singing the divine office in choir, and he cut the general's term from life to a period of three years. Since, however, the order was only given orally, it was upon his death in 1559 superseded canonically by the promulgated Bulls of his predecessors. The new pope, Pius IV, reconfirmed the Society's Institute

Palazzo della Sapienza

Wisdom Hall; Location: Corso del Rinascimento

This 16th-century building was the seat of the University of Rome which Boniface VIII founded in 1303. Before this present building was erected in 1587, Pierre Favre and Diego Lainez lectured in the university here gratis in the academic year of 1537-1538. Favre taught a course on Holy Scripture. Lainez gave a commentary on Gabriel Biel's "Canon of the Mass." In later years Lainez used to say that at the beginning his teaching was not satisfactory, so much so that Ignatius was ashamed of him, but that later his lectures improved and general satisfaction increased.
As "Masters of the University of Paris" the early companions enjoyed academic respect and privilege, but were also willing to teach basic catechism and care for homeless people in shelters for the poor

Ospedale di San Giacomo degli Spagnoli

Spanish Hospital of St. James

Location: Corso del Rinascimento; Piazza Navona
The present Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was formerly entitled St. James. The hospital was in the adjoining building. On the lintels of several doorways can still be seen the shell that was the symbol of Saint James of Compostella.
It was doubtless in this hospital that Ignatius lodged when he came to Rome as a pilgrim March 29 to April 13 or 14, 1523. For in addition to serving as a hospital for the sick among the Spanish colony in Rome, it also had 22 beds for poor Spanish pilgrims. From the end of March to the beginning of May 1537, the companions of Ignatius lodged here, at first only the Spaniards, later all of the group. The rules of the Hospital forbade leaving bread or meat on the bed lest the rats chew the blankets.
One night Simon Rodriguez was awakened by Xavier shouting in his sleep: "More, more, more!" Dreaming that he had to suffer great hardship and persecution for the service of God, the future apostle of the Indies offered to suffer even more

Palazzo Madama

Senate of the Republic of Italy

This was the residence of Madama Margarita of Austria, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Charles V. Widow of a Medici, she married Ottavio Farnese, grandson of Alessandro Farnese who became Pope Paul III in 1534. With avuncular attention the Pope appointed Father Jean Codure to serve as her confessor, and after the death of Codure (1541), he named Ignatius.
Ignatius spent almost the entire day of August 27, 1545 in the palace. Madama Margarita, about to give birth, went to confession in the morning. Ignatius returned in the afternoon and remained praying in the chapel until the time of delivery. Twins were born, one of whom was baptized by the nurse before he died. The surviving twin, also in danger of death, was promptly baptized by Ignatius; the baby grew up to become General Alessandro Farnese.
Madama Margarita greatly helped the apostolic works of Ignatius in Rome. At times she would send him from 200 to 300 ducats for the poor. Although she intended this to relieve the poverty of the Jesuit house, Ignatius never wanted to retain any part of the gift, but rather used to distribute it entirely among the poor of the city.

Palazzo Delfini

Location: Via dei Delfini, 16

This building stands on the site of the house of Antonio Frangipani, which was the third residence of Ignatius and his companions (October 1538 to February 1541).
An anonymous document of 1584 says that, when the present building was put up, such was the veneration of the owner Mario Delfini for Ignatius that he preserved the room where the holy man had lived. On the ground floor there are two small rooms dating back to the 14th or 15th century.
Father Simon Rodriguez said that people did not want to live in this haunted house, and that, as a matter of fact, during their first days there the companions heard strange sounds at night such as knocking at the doors and the breaking of plates and crockery.
At the end of November, 1538, it seems, while the first companions lived here, they presented themselves to Pope Paul III in fulfillment of their vow at Montmartre "so that His Holiness might make an assignment of them for the greater glory of God, in conformity with their intention to go about the world, and if they did not find the desired spiritual fruit in one place, to pass from one place to another, seeking the greater glory of God and help of souls" (Constitutions). Paul III accepted their offer, but for the time being he wanted them to remain in Rome and to go about preaching in the city.
The winter of 1538-1539 was extraordinarily cold. In addition, there was a food shortage in Rome and in the area roundabout. Poor persons died of cold and hunger in the streets. Living off alms themselves, the companions began bringing the poor to this house and sharing their food, hearth and straw bedding; the few beds were reserved for the very ill. In addition to material sustenance they gave their guests instruction in Christian doctrine. The number of poor persons assisted rose to 200, 300, and almost 400 a day; the total reached 3,000--in a city of 40,000 inhabitants. The charity of the companions made an impression on the townspeople. "Some leading persons not only gave alms to meet the expenses but also came themselves with lamp in hand at night to see the charity with which the poor were served" (Polanco).
In the spring of 1539 this house was the setting of the famous "Deliberations of the First Fathers" in which the group of companions considered whether they should become a religious order. In a first series of sessions, they decided to remain united as a body under religious obedience. They confirmed this decision at a Mass celebrated by Father Pierre Favre on April 15. In the second series, completed June 24, they defined some key points of the new foundation, and drew up the Rule or Formula which they were to submit for papal approval.
This house was also the scene of St. Francis Xavier's leavetaking of his dear friend, Ignatius. The two were among the closest of friends among the companions, but never saw each other after Xavier went off to the Indies to be the first provincial and founder of Jesuit missionary activity in the lands between India and Japan.

I Banchi

I Banchi

In the time of Ignatius the neighborhood between the Chiesa Nuova and the Tiber was named for the banks set up there by the Florentines, especially in the present-day Via di Banco S. Spirito, Street of Holy Spirit Bank.
It was a place where people gathered, where charlatans circulated, and vendors sold their wares. Ignatius sent the novices for street-preaching, not just for the apostolate, but also for the humbling experience.
Ignatius himself preached here. One Leonardo Bini recalled seeing him teach catechism alongside of the Banco di Santo Spirito, the building at the corner of Corso Vittorio and the Via dei Banchi Nuovi. Urchins threw apples at him, but with great patience Ignatius went right on with his instruction.

Ponte Sisto

The Bridge of Pope Sixtus IV

Ignatius and his companions spent the summer of 1538 in a residence near this bridge. Ignatius frequently crossed Ponte Sesto on his way to the monastery of San Pietro in Montorio, one of whose friars was for a time his confessor.

Castel Sant' Angelo

Holy Angel Fortress

On Easter Tuesday, April 3, 1537, the companions held a theological discussion in the presence of Paul III while he ate dinner at Castel Sant' Angelo. Ignatius recalled the event: "Afterwards a number of cardinals, bishops and doctors of theology came in and discussed theology with them. Doctor Ortiz was among them, and other distinguished theologians. As a result, the pope was so pleased, and all those present as well, that they began to give them every possible favor. (Pope Paul gave them) permission to go to Jerusalem bestowing his blessing once, twice, and exhorting them to persevere in their projects. He gave them about 60 ducats in alms; the cardinals and other persons present gave them more then 150 ducats. To those who were priests the pope gave the faculty to hear confessions and absolve from cases reserved to bishops. To those who were not priests he gave dimissorial letters... whereby on three successive feast days or Sundays, any bishop could ordain them subdeacon, deacon and priest."
Here on Sept. 2, 1549 Paul III received in audience Peter Canisius who was setting out for Germany, and with him, ten Jesuit scholastics who were going to set up the College of Palermo.
At the time of the Suppression, Father General Lorenzo Ricci was imprisoned in Castel Sant' Angelo from Sept. 24, 1773 until he died there Nov. 24, 1775.

Palazzo Apostolico

Vatican Apostolic Palace

During the life of Ignatius, the Apostolic Palace consisted of the buildings west of the Cortile San Damaso, between St. Peter's Basilica and the Cortile del Belvedere--including, of course, the Sistine Chapel and the Borgia Apartments. The building in which the pope has usually lived in our time was built for Sixtus V by the architect Domenico Fontana 30 years after the death of Ignatius.
Ignatius frequently went to the Apostolic Palace for audiences with the pope and visits with cardinals who resided here, among them, Cardinal Cervini and Cardinal Moroni.
It was in the residence "at Saint Peter's" that Paul III gave the bull, "Iniunctum nobis" (1544), and that Julius III further confirmed the growing Society's "Formula Instituti" with his bull, "Exposcit debitum" (1550).

San Pietro in Vaticano

St. Peter's Basilica on Vatican Hill

beginning of 1547 the 71-year-old Michelangelo was placed in charge of the project. As construction advanced, the old basilica built by Constantine was gradually razed.
In the apse, to the left of the Altar of the Chair, is the tomb of Paul III who accepted the offering the first fathers made of themselves in 1538. Pierre Favre considered this event a memorable gift of God, and the foundation of the Society."
In the crypt are buried Popes Julius III del Monte (1550-1555) and Marcellus II (1555): both were most favorable to the young Society. Julius III approved the second Formula of the Institute and tried to provide the Roman College with a stable endowment. Marcellus II wanted to have two Jesuits with him in the Apostolic Palace. Ignatius designated Lainez and offered Pope Marcellus a list of four or five names from among whom he could choose the second. But his pontificate lasted only 21 days. His nephew Robert Bellarmine would enter the Society of Jesus in 1560.

Some historical vignettes:
St. Peter's was one of the Seven Churches visited by Ignatius the pilgrim in March-April of 1523. The companions made the same pilgrimage circuit in March-April of 1537; it was customary to begin at St. Peter's and go on foot to the other six. All of them went to St. Peter's on April 22, 1541, the day of their vows.
On March 6, 1544 Ignatius had a mystical experience here: "Having arrived at St. Peter's," he wrote in his Diary, "I began my prayer at the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament, a picturing to myself always in the same bright color the Divine Being Itself, such that within me there was no not seeing it. Afterwards, at the Mass (of Cardinal Cervini), in the same way the imaging in my mind and the seeing (came) with new mental feelings. After, from then to two o'clock, going to the same place of the Blessed Sacrament, and desiring to find the earlier experience, and seeking for it, there was no way."
The chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved stood then near the present site of the Confession, i.e., near the high altar over St. Peter's tomb -- just about where the mosaic of Rafael's "Transfiguration" now stands.

Monastario di San Pietro in Montorio

Saint Peter's on the Janiculum

Several blocks up the Janiculum Hill on the other side of the Tiber River from the Gesu Church is the monastery where Ignatius' confessor, Fray Teodosio da Lodi, O.F.M., lived. "Montorio" is a corruption of "Mons Aureus" (Golden Hill).
When Ignatius was elected general by the brethren April 8,1541, he asked that the election be repeated.
"Ignatius gave a talk according to the sentiments he felt, affirming that he found in himself a greater wish and intention to be governed than to rule over others; that he was not capable of governing himself, how much less of governing others."
After the second election on April 13 yielded the same result, Ignatius made a triduum at San Pietro in Montorio April 14-16 and prepared a general confession of his past life. Fray Teodosio told Ignatius that he would be resisting the Holy Spirit if he did not accept the election as General. Nonetheless, the Founder asked the confessor to pray over the matter once more and then to send his judgment to the Companions in a sealed envelope.

A historical vignette:
Ignatius used to come frequently to celebrate Mass here, probably in the little chapel of Bramante. An erroneous interpretation of a text had in the Middle Ages led to the claim that this was the scene of Peter's crucifixion.
In January 1549, before leaving India for Japan, Francis Xavier wrote to Ignatius: "Greatly do I desire, my Father, that each month during an entire year, you have some father of the Society say a Mass for me at San Pietro in Montorio, in that chapel where they say that St Peter was crucified."
Ignatius carried out the wish of Xavier.