The Loyola Diet

Ignatius of Loyola was a versatile man. Knight, priest , hermit, theologian, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and notorious list maker. A stickler for details, Ignatius made lists of rules and guidelines and obsessed with trivia specialist say are actually manifestations of his spiritual genius, he shunned no subject.


From his autobiography, we learn that Ignatius had a complicated relationship with food. Inspired by penance, temperance or a covert eating disorder (?), Ignatius made up eight ‘Rules for Regulating Eating’.
Not an easy read – do not suspect it to replace the paleo diet any time soon. Still, the first two rules are catchy.

The First Rule: In regard to bread there is less need to abstain, because it is not a food to which the appetite ordinarily urges us in a disordered way, or to which we are tempted as strongly as we are to other foods.

The Second: In regard to drink there seems to be more need of abstinence than about eating bread.

Tree hundred years before Ignatius, Franciscus of Assisi, the son of a wealthy silk merchant, renounced all earthly riches, broke off contact with his family and began to wander the country as an itinerant preacher, wearing a simple frock, just as Jesus had once done, in poverty and humility. imagesIf any part of his rough habit seemed too soft, he sewed it with packthread. He slept on the ground, using a piece of wood or a stone as a pillow. Besides a little coarse bread, Franciscus rarely ate anything warm and, when he did, he mixed cold water and ash into his food so as to ruin its flavor. He drank only clear water and fasted rigorously eight lents in the year.


Pope Franciscus, the 226th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, took his papal title after St Franciscus of Assisi. He is also a Jesuit.
And he is now told to lay off the pasta and the ravioli and exercise.

It is true that since taking the papacy, there has been noticeable weight gain. Franciscus apparently likes his food; dulce de leche, empanadas, roast sirloin steak, bagna cauda.
It seems that our pope, once reported as “muy austero”–very austere– preferring frugal, healthy meals made up of fruit, skinless chicken, and salads, with the occasional glass of wine, eating most meals alone, and even cooking for himself has been corrupted.

Since being elected Pope, Franciscus has often been accused of breaking the ruleswshingfeet and this Holy Thursday, once again, by washing the feet of a dozen prisoners, six female and six male of various nationalities and religious convictions at the Rebiba prison in Rome, he will once again divide the faithful in a nay and aye camp.


As for the exercise
Holy week is a busy time for a pope. Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, …
On Good Friday, the Pope will preside over the “Via Crucis” in the Colosseum, and on Sunday he will bestow his Easter “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and The World) blessing after celebrating Easter Mass in the Basilica of St. Peter’s.

Pope Franciscus is 78 years old.
Let’s hope that, after the Easter celebrations, he can nip out for a pizza!