JESUITICA: Ignatius and witch-hunts
False allegations and malicious rumours featured large in Jesuit history from St Ignatius’ time. He responded to a witch-hunt by facing it down. Because of his focus on the interior life of the individual, he was variously accused of being immoral, a heretic, an Erasmian, a Lutheran, or one of the Alumbrados, who claimed private illumination from God. He was imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for 42 days in Alcalá and 22 days in Salamanca. The same slanders followed him to Rome, so Ignatius asked the pope for a formal investigation of all accusations against him, and a judicial sentence. When the judges formally declared him kosher, he asked that the names of his calumniators be suppressed, but had several authentic copies made of the sentence, to be used whenever God’s work was threatened by slander.