The present translation of the Exercises of St. Ignatius has been made from the Spanish Autograph of St. Ignatius. The copy so designated is not indeed in the handwriting of the Saint, but has a good number of corrections made by him and is known to have been used by him in giving the Exercises.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a man without any great pretensions to education at the time he wrote this book. His native language was not Spanish, but Basque. His lack of education and his imperfect acquaintance with pure Spanish are enough to make it clear that a refined use of any language, and more especially of the Spanish, or, in general, anything like a finished or even perfectly correct, style is not to be expected in his work. Literary defects he removed to some extent, perhaps, as he continued to use and apply the book, but he is known never to have been fearful of such faults. His corrections found in this text are clearly made with a view to precision more than to anything else.

The Autograph of St. Ignatius was translated by Father General Roothaan into Latin and was reproduced by Father Rodeles in his edition of the Spanish text. But the original was not available to ordinary students. In 1908, however, Father General Wernz allowed the entire book to be phototyped, and in this way it was spread throughout the Society of Jesus in a large number of copies. It is one of these which has been chiefly employed by the present translator, who has, besides, made frequent use of the Manuscript itself.

After considerable study of the matter, it seemed best to make this translation as faithful and close a reproduction of the Spanish text as could be. To do so it was necessary at times to sacrifice the niceties of style, but it was thought that those who would use the book would easily forego the elegancies of diction if they could feel sure they were reading the very words of St. Ignatius. Any other form of translation than the one adopted could hardly be kept from being a partial expansion, illustration or development of the original, and would therefore have proved, to some extent, a commentary as well as a translation. This the translator has earnestly sought to avoid, preferring to leave the further work of commentary to another occasion or to other hands.

Another reason for aiming at absolute fidelity rather than style was the fact that the Exercises are mostly read, not continuously for any time, but piecemeal and meditatively. Literary finish would therefore not be much sought or cared for in the book, but accuracy is. For this a certain neglect of style seemed pardonable in the translation, if only the real meaning of the writer could be made clear. Perhaps some may even find a charm in the consequent want of finish, seeing it reproduces more completely the style of St. Ignatius.

The process of translating in this way the Autograph text is not as simple as it might seem. The first difficulty is to make sure of the exact meaning of St. Ignatius. This is obscured, at times, by his language being that of nearly 400 years ago and being not pure Spanish. Occasionally, in fact, the Saint makes new Spanish words from the Latin or Italian, or uses Spanish words in an Italian or Latin sense, or employs phrases not current except in the Schools, and sometimes even has recourse to words in their Latin form. To be sure, then, of the meaning, one must often go to other languages and to the terms adopted in Scholastic Philosophy or Theology. The meaning clear, the further difficulty comes of finding an exactly equivalent English word or phrase.

In accomplishing his task, the translator has made free use of other translations, especially of that of Father General Roothaan into Latin, that of Father Venturi into Italian, and that of Father Jennesseaux into French, and has had the use of the literal translation into Latin made, apparently, by St. Ignatius himself, copied in 1541, and formally approved by the Holy See in 1548.

Besides the last-mentioned Manuscript and printed books, the translator has to acknowledge, as he does very gratefully, his obligations to the Very Rev. Father Mathias Abad, Father Achilles Gerste and particularly Father Mariano Lecina, Editor of the Ignatiana in the Monumenta Historica S.J., for aid in appreciating the Spanish text, to Fathers Michael Ahern, Peter Cusick, Walter Drum, Francis Kemper and Herbert Noonan for general revision of the translation, and above all to Father Aloysius Frumveller for an accurate collation of the translation with the original.

In conclusion, it is well to warn the reader that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are not meant to be read cursorily, but to be pondered word for word and under the direction of a competent guide. Read straight on, it may well appear jejune and unsatisfactory; studied in the actual making of the Exercises, the very text itself cannot fail to yield ever new material for thought and prayer.

Elder Mullan, S.J.
German College, Rome,
Feast of St. Ignatius, 1909.

General Index

Abstinence, Constitutions about to be praised
Adam, Sin of
Addition, Second, in Second Week
Additions, Changes in Fourth Week
— Changes in Second Week
— Changes in Third Week
— for Exercises
— for Particular Examen
— if observed diligently
Alms, How to distribute
Angel of light, Satan makes himself like
Angel, See Satan
Angels, Sin of
Bed, before going to sleep in
Blessed, No comparison of living persons with
Bread, Rules for eating
Candles in churches to be praised
Christ as Man, Colloquy to
— Triple Colloquy of First Week to
Christ, Description of
— Imitated in eating
Church, Fourth Addition not to be made in
— ornaments and buildings to be praised
— precepts to be praised
— rules for thinking with
— same spirit as Christ
Colloquy, How made
— of mercy, at end of Second Exercise
— on Hell
— on the Kingdom of Christ
— Triple
— Triple, after Three Manners of Humility
— Triple, after Three Pairs
— Triple, in First Week
— Triple, of the Two Standards
Comforts, in Fourth Week
Commandments, First Method of Prayer on the
Communion at end of First Week
— to be praised
Composition of place, How to make
Confession, General
— to be praised
Consolation, How to act in
— if wanting in the Exercises
— office of Christ in Fourth Week
— Spiritual, description of
— to be prepared for in desolation
— When to explain Rules of discernment of spirits in
— without cause
Contempt, Christ urges us to desire
Continence to be praised
Contumely, Christ urges us to desire
Courage in beginning the Exercises
— under desolation
Creatures, End of
Cruzadas to be praised
Daybreak, First and Second Additions at
Death considered in distributing alms
— Election such as will please at point of
Desolation, Causes of
— How to act in
— How to treat exercitant
— if absent in the Exercises
— Spiritual, description of
— When to explain Rules of discernment of spirits in
Director, How to give Exercises
— action of if there are no spiritual movements
— not to influence to vow or state of life
— to know spirits
Discernment of spirits, Rules for
— When Rules are to be explained for
Disposition determines Exercises to be given
Doctors, Positive and Scholastic
Drink, Rules for
Eating, Penance in
— Rules for
Education determines Exercises to be given
Election, Matters for
— Preamble to
— Prelude to
— sometimes made over again
— Times for making
— Ways for making
— When begun
Ember Days fast to be praised
End of man considered in distributing alms
— to be kept in view in determining reform
— to be kept in view in election
Examen, General
— Particular
— Particular, in First and other Weeks
— Particular, in Third Week
— Particular, Subject of
Exercise, full hour given to
— over the hour in desolation
Exercises, Duration of the, about thirty days
— hours after Three Pairs
— hours of in Second Week
— how to be proposed by director
— lengthening and shortening of, in Third Week
— not to be concerned about future
— number of, in Fourth Week
— number of, in Third Week
— number of, just before Election
— Spiritual, meaning of
— to be suited to Exercitant
Eyes to be restrained
Fasts, Constitutions about, to be praised
Fear, filial and servile, helps
Flesh, penance of
Food, Quality and quantity of
Generosity on beginning the Exercises
God, comparison of myself with, What He is
Good, What to do when tempted under appearance of
Gospels, in Weeks after First
Grace, How to talk about
Hell, Meditation on
Honor, a temptation to ambition
Humility, Christ urges to
— how reached
— in consolation
— Three Manners of
Hymns to be praised
Idle words, when sinful
Illuminative life, Rules to Explain
Images to be praised
Imitation of Christ, in Weeks after First
Indulgences to be praised
Intellect, Exercises of the, in Meditation
Judgment, Day of, to be considered in distributing alms
Judgment, Election such as will please at Day of
Kingdom of Christ
Laughter, when not to be indulged in
Learning, Positive and Scholastic to be praised
Lenten fast to be praised
Liberty not to be discarded in favor of grace
Light, how to manage in Second Week
— to be shut out in First Week
— to be used in Fourth Week
Love consists in interchange
— contemplation to gain
Lucifer, description of
Man, End of
Marriage not to be praised as much as virginity
Mary, Apparition to
— Blessed Virgin, Triple Colloquy of First Week to
— Colloquy to
— Imitation of
Mass during Exercises
— hearing of to be praised
Memory, Exercise of in Meditation
Midnight, First and Second Additions at
— Meditation sometimes omitted in Second Week
Oath, Kind allowed
Office, Divine, to he praised
Orders, Religious, to be praised
Pairs, Three
Patience to be practised in desolation
Penance in Fourth Week
— in Second Week
— Kind and purpose of
Penances to be praised
Perfection to be praised
Pilgrimages to be praised
Points, extra, in Fourth Week
— extra, in Third Week
— how to be given
— in Second Week
— to be prearranged
Posture in Meditation
Poverty, Christ urges us to desire
— What to do in tendency against
Powers, Three, how exercised
Prayer, First Method of
— Second Method of
Prayers, Long, to be praised
— Third Method of
— Three Methods of
Predestination, How to talk about
Prelude, First, How to make
— Second, What to ask for
Preludes in Weeks after First
Preparatory Prayer before every meditation
— — unchanged
Presence of God, Act before meditation
Pride a temptation
Psalms to be praised
Purgative Life, Rules to explain
Purpose of Exercises
Reading not beyond matter of the time
Reform, How to determine
Relics to be praised
Religious Life, caution about making vow during Exercises
— How to Make
Repetition in Third Week
Repugnance to Poverty, What to do in
Retreat during Exercises
Reverence more called for in acts of the will
Review of Exercise
Rhythm, Third Method of Prayer
Riches, a temptation
Saints’ lives considered
— — in weeks after First
Satan acting on souls
— attacks on weakest side
— fights against consolation
Scruples, Rules for
Secrecy to be avoided in desolation
Self-love, Progress measured by abandoning
Senses, Application of
— First Method of Prayer
Sin, First, Second and Third, Exercise on
— Mortal and Venial
— Of Angels, Adam, Particular
Sins, Exercise on personal
— First Method of Prayer on Deadly
Sleep, Before going to
— Penance in
Solitude recommended
Soul of Christ, Triple Colloquy of First Week
Spirits, Discernment of
— Movement during Exercises
— When Rules of Discernment of to be explained
Spirit, What to do when tempted under appearance of good
Standards, The Two
States, Preamble to consider
Stations to be praised
Summary of a Meditation
Superiors’ Recommendations to be obeyed
— to be approved of
Temperance in Fourth Week
Temptation, what to do in gross
Tendencies, Disordered, to be got rid of
Tendency against poverty
— disordered, absent from divine vocation
— — in distributing alms
— — to be opposed
Thinking with the Church, Rules for
Thought during Second Week
Thought, Kindred, in Fourth Week
— — in Second Week
— — in Third Week
— — to meditation on Waking
Thought, Sin of
Thoughts to be kindred to matter of Exercises
Vespers during Exercises
Vigils, fast of, to be praised
Virginity to be praised
Vocation, divine, always clear and pure
Vow, about what matter
— caution on, during Exercises
Vows to he praised
Week, First, Matter of
— — Purpose of
— Fourth
— — Method of
— — Matter of
— — Mysteries
— Second
— — lengthening and shortening
— — matter of
— — Mysteries
— — Matter of
— — Method of
— — Mysteries
Weeks of the Exercises
Will, Exercise of in Meditation
— Reverence more called for in acts of
Word, Sin of
Works, How to talk about

General Note

In the reproduction of the text in English:

  1. No change whatever is made in the wording. The proper corrections, however, of the two unimportant slips in quotation have been indicated in italics.
  2. It may be remarked in passing that the text of Holy Scripture is not seldom given in the Spiritual Exercises in wording somewhat different from that of the Vulgate. Such divergences have not been noted in this translation. It will be remembered that, when the book was written, the Council of Trent had not yet put its seal on the Vulgate.
  3. The head lines and the rubrics have been kept as they stand in the Manuscript. Where they were wanting, they have been supplied in italics.
  4. Abbreviations have been filled out.
  5. Wherever italics are used, the words in this character belong to the translator and not to St. Ignatius.
  6. In the use of small and capital letters, and in the matter of punctuation and the division into paragraphs the practice of the copyist has usually not been followed. Various kinds of type, also, are used independently of the Manuscript.
  7. As a matter of convenience, in citations from Holy Scripture, the modern method by chapter and verse is substituted for that of the Mss. chapter and letter. Besides, quotations are indicated by quotation marks in place of the parentheses of the Mss.

Elder Mullan, S.J.


  1. The word Annotation does not occur in the original after the first time. The same is true of similar cases in the Mss.
  2. Offering is in St. Ignatius’ handwriting, correcting giving or presenting, which is crossed out.
  3. May make use of . . . according is in the Saint’s handwriting, correcting some word erased.
  4. Without determining oneself through is in the Saint’s hand, the words being inserted between life and tendency, the word without being cancelled.
  5. Synagogues is in the Saint’s hand, replacing Temples, which is crossed out.
  6. It is doubtful whether these words are like me or with me.
  7. In Their Eternity is in St. Ignatius’ hand, replacing among Them, which is cancelled.
  8. And so, the fullness of times being come is in the Saint’s hand, and being crossed out.
  9. As can be piously meditated is in St. Ignatius’ handwriting and is inserted before seated.
  10. The place or cave of the Nativity is in the Saint’s hand, correcting the inn, which is crossed out.
  11. Great is inserted, perhaps in. the hand of St. Ignatius.
  12. As he is accustomed to do in most cases is inserted in the Saint’s handwriting.
  13. Not solely or as they ought is a correction of not only, which is crossed out. The correction is perhaps in the handwriting of St. Ignatius.
  14. In the is in the Saint’s hand, over a word erased.
  15. It does not appear that this election is a Divine vocation is in the Saint’s hand, correcting we can not say that this election is His vocation.
  16. Divine is added in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  17. I is added, perhaps in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  18. To have is apparently in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  19. In His Humanity is in St. Ignatius’ hand, correcting the Humanity of before Christ.
  20. As drops of blood is in St. Ignatius’ hand, replacing like a bloody sweat.
  21. Giving them to understand is an addition, very probably in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  22. Making me to understand; likewise is in the Saint’s handwriting, correcting a word erased, probably understanding.
  23. For the parentheses of the Mss. quotation marks have been substituted.
  24. It appears that is in the Saint’s handwriting, inserted before He exercised.
  25. Shows he means is in the Saint’s hand, correcting says.
  26. It seems that is added in the hand of St. Ignatius.
  27. Great tempest is in St. Ignatius’ hand, correcting some word erased.
  28. The whole multitude of the Jews is inserted here in the handwriting of St. Ignatius, a phrase being erased after accuse.
  29. This should be 27.
  30. Rent in two from above below is in St. Ignatius’ handwriting, correcting torn in pieces, which is crossed out.
  31. Understanding is added, apparently in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  32. Very is added, perhaps in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  33. Of His Disciples is in the handwriting of St. Ignatius: replacing a word erased.
  34. These words are in St. Luke 24, 42.
  35. Is piously meditated and is read in the lives of the Saints is in the hand of St. Ignatius, replacing words which were apparently says the Gospel of Judea.
  36. Third is in the Saint’s hand, replacing first.
  37. Darkness is perhaps in the Saint’s handwriting, replacing blindness.
  38. Sixth Rule is in the handwriting of St. Ignatius, replacing fourth Rule.
  39. Exercises is added by St. Ignatius.
  40. Likewise is added in St. Ignatius’ hand.
  41. Or explain for our times is added in the Saint’s handwriting
  42. Spiritual is added in St. Ignatius’ handwriting.