LONDON (CNS): A rare and valuable letter written and signed by St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, has been discovered in Jesuit archives in London.
The document had been buried in a filing cabinet for more than 100 years until it was accidentally discovered in mid-May.
The Jesuits at the British province’s mother church in London consider the letter to be “unique” because most surviving signatures of St Ignatius are in Rome, the city where he spent the last 16 years of his life as the Jesuits’ first father general.
British Jesuit provincial, Fr David Smolira, said in a May 25 statement that the letter was an “exciting discovery” and a “treasured possession of the British province”.
The letter was discovered in the archives of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
It was written in Italian and dated February 16, 1555, just 18 months before St Ignatius’ death.
It was addressed to Quirino Garzonio, a good friend of the saint, and, according to the Jesuits, was probably dictated by St Ignatius and written by his secretary, Fr Juan Polanco.