For centuries, pilgrims have journeyed to the Holy Land and throughout Europe to visit sites that speak to them of Jesus and the saints. Saint Ignatius of Loyola was one such pilgrim.
As Jim Manney writes, throughout his “purposeful wanderings,” St. Ignatius experienced profound changes that ultimately led to his founding the Society of Jesus. Manney says St. Ignatius “referred to himself as ‘the Pilgrim’ throughout his life, even when he was Superior General of the Society stuck at a desk in Rome. Ignatian metaphor for the spiritual life is pilgrimage.”
Even in the U.S., people in the Midwest do not need to make pilgrimages to faraway lands to find Jesuit-related sites. Of course, there are many well-known places here in our province that have Ignatian significance. But there are interesting and inspiring lesser-known monuments, markers, and apostolic works as well.
Thanks to a project developed as part of the Ignatian Year celebration, this web destination aims to highlight of such places—allowing users to participate in virtual and/or in-person pilgrimages as they choose. Included are just a few examples.
Even as we commemorate these sites, we must acknowledge that the shared histories are complex in some cases. One example is in the relationship between the Jesuits and Red Cloud Indian School in South Dakota, where a process of Truth and Healing has begun. We embrace the dialogue now underway; we strive and pray for healing and transformation for shameful actions against Indigenous people, wherever and whenever they occurred.
Finally, in the Ignatian tradition, we ask visitors to see these sites as an invitation to contemplation and prayer with gratitude for God’s gifts, rather as a than a list of accomplishments. Father James Martin, SJ, has written a helpful “Introduction to Ignatian Contemplation” to help frame our virtual visits within a Composition of Place, or imaginative prayer. In this way we seek to enjoy a deeper understanding and engagement with the past.
Do you have a favorite “Hidden Gem”? Send your suggestions to Amy Korpi at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider adding it to the map.