Monday, February 12, 2007


La Seu

La Seu

La Seu Nave

Church over the Cave with view of the River and La Seu

Church over the Cave

Manresa is the capital of the Bages comarca (county), located in the geographic centre of Catalonia, Spain, and crossed by the river Cardener. It is an industrial area. It is 50 kilometres from Barcelona.

Manresa is where Ignatius arrived on March 25, 1522, from Montserrat. He spent 10 months in Manresa when he was scheduled only to remain a couple of days on his way to Barcelona.

From the first day, he adopted the practice of daily vespers and compline at the large central church of the town along the Cardoner River known as the La Colegiata Basílica de Santa María and then and now more popularly known as the Seu.

The Church dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. It is situated beside the river. It was built on the ruins of the ancient Romanesque church of Santa Maria. The Cathedral exhibits elements of Catalan Gothic. Within are a number of precious retables dating back to the Italo-Catalan Gothic and Catalan Gothic periods: that of Saint Michael and St Nicholas by Jaume Cabrera (1406); Saint Mark by Arnau Bassa; and the Holy Trinity, by Pere Serra, (active 1363-1399); and The Consecration of St Marcus.

At Manresa, he begged for himself for the poor and the sick and worked at this hospital of St. Lucy. Falling ill himself he was taken in by generous people including the Canyelles and Amigant families ... . A monastic cell was put at his disposal by the kindly Dominican fathers (church now destroyed) where he sought spiritual direction. It was here that he was introduced to the spiritual classic: "The Imitation of Christ" attributed to Thomas A'Kempis which remained for the rest of his life his dearest book.

He was under the direction of his confessor, Dom John Chanones. According to a witness in the process of canonization, Ignatius went to see Chanones every Saturday. He could moreover have met him or other Benedictines at the priory of Manresa, which was dependent on Montserrat. It is possible that he received from them a copy of the "Imitation of Christ" in Spanish, for he certainly had that book at Manresa.

It is thought that they must have given him also the "Ejercitatorio de la vida espiritual", of Dom Garcia de Cisneros, published at Montserrat in 1500. Ribadeneira in his letter to Fr. Girón thinks it very probable that St. Ignatius was acquainted with this Castilian work, that he availed himself of it for prayer and meditation, that Chanones explained different parts to him, and that the title "Exercises" was suggested to him by the "Ejercitatorio". The Benedictines made use of this book for the conversion or edification of the pilgrims of Montserrat. The tradition of the monastery relates that Chanones communicated it to his penitent.

It was a kind woman, Iñes Pascual, who showed him the cavern near the town of Manresa, where he might retire for prayer, austerities, and contemplation, while he lived on alms.

The cave was by the banks of the Cardoner River. Here he was plagued severe interior struggle with doubts, anxieties, scruples, temptations and divine illuminations about his past and. future life. A careful entry of these experiences (many in military metaphor) were recorded into his notebook.

It was here that he reached a turning point, a decisive time. Ignatius relates the experiences at Manresa left him completely changed, both in his interior and exterior life. This is known as the Vision of the Cardoner.

Today, there is a 17th century church which has been built over the original cave where Ignatius spent so many days and weeks and where the observer can easily see the nearby River of the Cardoner and the Seo church.

More images and history are in (Have images of the Seu and the Cave of St Ignatius)

The Life of St. Ignatius Loyola -Loyola University Chicago

Ruben's 1609 Picture Biography of Ignatius
By Fr. David Collins, SJ

Catholic Encyclopedia- Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius