A biography from Common Prayer:
Ignatius of Loyola (1491?–?1556)
Ignatius was born to a noble Spanish family. As a young man, he joined the military, but a war injury ended his military career. While recuperating, Ignatius became bored and asked for novels about knights and battles. But all that could be found in the castle where he stayed were books on the life of Christ and the saints of the church. Legend has it that Ignatius read these stories in a competitive manner, imagining how he could beat the various saints at practicing the spiritual disciplines. He soon found that his thoughts on the saints left him with more peaceful and satisfied feelings than his daydreams about the noble life he had known before his injury. After his illness, Ignatius began practicing his competitive notions of rivaling the saints, and wrote about his experiences of Christian disciplines. His scribblings became the spiritual classic The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, used by Christians for centuries in the practice of discernment. He eventually founded the Society of Jesus, an order still known widely for a commitment to foreign missions and religious education.
Thanks to the constant growth of free resources on the internet, his most famous writing is available online: