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Sanctuary of Loyola

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In 1491, on the once much humbler site of this enormous and ornate Mudejár-style shrine that is the Sanctuary of Loyola, a family of minor nobility welcomed its 13th child, who would one day change the world. San Ignatius Lopéz de Loyola, a soldier turned to the priesthood by his strange visions, founded the Brotherhood of Jesus, or Jesuit order, whose radical interpretation of Catholicism left its mark on both the New and Old World.

A place of pilgrimage and wonder for the devout and secular alike, San Ignatius' former home has been transformed with Chirriguerresque flair into a grand compound. In addition to the basilica and shrine, there is an art museum displaying a few of his belongings and writings, as well as religious objects collected over the centuries. Shrines to other Jesuit saints are also arranged around the grounds.

The gardens and surrounding mountains make a fine backdrop to the scene, and you're welcome to stay on at their inexpensive hostel.

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