Patrons, pupils, and partners: The participation of women in Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy

Rosemary Angela DeJulio, Fordham University


This study attempts to connect with the women who were influenced by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Historically, women have been inspired to become the patrons, pupils, and partners of Saint Ignatius and his followers. With today's declining enrollment in the Society of Jesus, the laity, and especially women who collaborate with Jesuits in higher education, may find it helpful to acquire a more precise understanding of that historic relationship. The research explains the evolving roles of women in Jesuit history. Using as points of reference the Spiritual Exercises, the extant letters of Saint Ignatius to women, and when extant, women's letters to Ignatius, this study aspires to show why women became attracted to the Ignatian mission of educating others and saving souls; what roles women played in establishing the first Jesuit colleges; and how women advanced the Ignatian mission of serving the educational needs of others. The accounts of women who have been touched by Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy help us understand the past world of relationships between men and women, and particularly, between Ignatius and women in his time. These accounts are important for helping men and women reexamine their relationships today as they face the future of Jesuit education. The historical record indicates women were generous in their financial and spiritual support of Ignatius. They extended their deep loyalty and open hospitality to him and his followers. He responded to their loyalty with genuine appreciation, and a sense of trust. Ignatius grew spiritually and developed his Exercises by engaging women in spiritual conversations with him. Women also grew spiritually while developing a previously unknown sense of discipleship and freedom. Ignatius' talks propelled women's spiritual thinking through preconceived barriers which led to their evolving roles. Unfortunately, the deeds of Ignatius and his followers restrained certain women's desire to break through their temporal barriers. The women included in this study weave a tapestry of knowledge and critical action necessary for the present. The tapestry is never complete, but hope exists for more threads to be added in the future by uncovering the past deeds of women in Jesuit history.

Subject Area

School administration|Religious education|Education history|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

DeJulio, Rosemary Angela, "Patrons, pupils, and partners: The participation of women in Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975344.