St. Iggy: The Cannonball Saint
or How a Skirt-Chasing, Dice-Throwing and Vain Spanish Courtier Who Walked with a Limp Finally Got a Halo
St. Ignatius of Loyola had the rare distinction in the whole Christendom of being the only saint who was "cannonized" first before he was beatified. The story went that when the Spanish army stationed at a fortress in Pamplona, outnumbered by the French, was ready to retreat and accept a humiliating defeat, this swaggering son of a noble family convinced his captain to fight the invaders to death. As Lady Luck (or was it Madame Misfortune?) had had enough of Spanish bravado, she caused a careening cannon ball to crash and crush Iggy's leg.
The poor fellow was knocked out of his senses and he suddenly found himself upon waking up being treated like a lady by French soldiers who carried him home in a hammock instead of imprisoning him or torturing him with bad French jokes.
After a crude and we must say unhygienic "operation" on his leg so he could resume his groovy dance steps in court soirees, Iggy boy was bedbound and he recuperated in his brother's house. He couldn't go out for a drinking and gambling session. He couldn't wear his armor breastplate to engage his friends into a real Ragnarok match. And since this was a time when sending SMS texts and Friendster were not yet in vogue, the dashing and dashed soldier quickly got bored. He asked for copies of earlier versions of The Lord of the Rings and Mills and Boons novels but his sister-in-law kept none of these at home. Instead she handed him two boring books: The Life of Christ and Lives of Saints. He grumbly grabbed the books and started reading. He became feverish with excitement and started dreaming of going to faraway places and imitating the saints and following Christ. And then his desire of pursuing a royal relationship with a hitherto nameless lass and of playing knight to damsels-in-distress left him dry.Meanwhile, since his leg was restored but did not heal, he requested that it be recast. The doctors told him that he could die in the process but he was determined to have it done. He underwent second operation, even without anesthesia, because he did not want to walk with a limp. Vanity of vanities says Qoheleth! It seemed however, that Sts. Peter and Paul, whose twin anniversary celebration coincided with the day of his operation (June 29), wanted him to join Jesus's army, Iggy's health turned for the better and he was able to walk, albeit, still with a little limp. From then on he bowed to live a life of poverty and purity, become a monk and a missionary to Jerusalem. And the rest is, you know, history...