Ignatius was born in the family castle of Loyola in the Basque country of Spain. His family belonged to a long line of nobility, and Ignatius reflected his refined upbringing throughout his early life. He participated in all the revelry of royalty—gambling, dueling, romance—and worldly attraction.
In 1517 he took service in the army and in May of 1521 received a leg wound in a border skirmish with the French. He returned to Loyola to recuperate and found himself able to do nothing but read. He happened upon a book called The Life of Christ and was converted as a result. He also read The Imitation of Christ and the stories of St. Francis. He concluded by asking, "Could I not do what Francis did?" He then resolved to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, disposed of all his worldly goods, and clothed himself in sackcloth.
His ship was detained in Manresa, however, and he was forced to remain there for a year. During that time he had several profound mystical experiences that led him to begin sharing his faith with others. He also penned a large portion of The Spiritual Exercises during his stay in Manresa, and carried these notes with him as he continued the journey to Jerusalem. Ignatius would later become famous for these simple yet profound instructions on how to take a spiritual retreat. His "exercises" became the standard for Jesuit retreats and have remained so to this day.
Born and raised in the turmoil of seventeenth-century Puritan England, George Fox became the founder and most prominent leader of the Quakers (the Society of Friends). His famous Journal reveals a bold and passionate, even prophetic, man who acted with the certainty of one who knows God firsthand, not by hearsay. He was quick to confront those who "did not possess what they professed." He laid bare pomposity and pretense. He also called thousands to a direct, intimate knowledge of Christ who was present to teach and empower them.
If the Journal portrays a fiery figure, George Fox's Letters show us a loving pastor. In forty years, Fox wrote over three thousand letters, mostly to groups. These tender, practical letters display a full range of pastoral concern, from the life of prayer and worship to family life to the life of commerce.