Born in 1491, Ignatius’s early ambition was to be a knight, in imitation of the heroes he read about in the popular romances of the day. Following his dramatic conversion, his plans changed radically, and he decided to renounce all his previous hopes and become a penniless beggar. Living a life of intense prayer and penance, he received extraordinary mystical graces, experiencing the reality of God, not only in the depths of his heart but also in the concrete world around him. Sought by many people for his wisdom, he became an outstanding spiritual guide and the author of one of the great introductions to Christian living, The Spiritual Exercises. As he moved into mid-life, he became a committed student in the University of Paris, where he gathered a small group of enthusiastic followers around him who shared his vision. That small group quickly attracted more recruits and, with papal approval, became the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits. Initially ambitious for his own glory and honour, Ignatius worked only for ‘the greater glory of God’, becoming the inspirational founder of one of the Church’s most influential religious orders.