Blessed Peter Faber


"I can hardly find words to tell how fully I realize that my soul and my way of thinking have been changed by those very Spiritual Exercises, that my mind has been enlightened by new rays of grace from heaven and that I have been imbued with a certain strength, so much so that in the overflow of the divine blessings into even my body I am completely invigorated and seem to be changed into an entirely new man."


What is the Faber Center?

The Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality was adopted as a ministry of Marquette University in November 2005. Named after Blessed Peter Faber, S.J., who was among the first companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola and remembered for his expertise in directing the Spiritual Exercises, the Center is dedicated to providing faculty, administrators, and staff with support and guidance in leading a reflective life. Through retreats, reflection groups, a spiritual library and spiritual direction, faculty, staff and administrators are exposed to God’s transforming love. This experience can impact on their personal lives in significant ways, affecting their understanding of the heart of the mission and spiritual heritage of Marquette University. Interested faculty, administrators and staff can contact the Faber Center at (414) 288-4545.

Who was Peter Faber?

Saint Peter Faber (the anglicized form of his French name, Pierre Favre) was one of the original companions of Ignatius who founded the Society of Jesus, a religious order of men commonly known as the Jesuits.  The Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality draws its inspiration from him because of his gentle manner and because he was recognized by Ignatius as the most skilled of the early Jesuits in directing the Spiritual Exercises. He preached at missions and gave the Exercises to people in many different countries of Europe.

Peter was born in the village of Villaret, Savoy, France on April 13, 1506 to a relatively poor farming family. As a young boy, he shepherded his father’s flock of sheep in the Alpine pastures. He had no education until he was ten years old when he convinced his father to allow him to attend a small school operated by a parish priest . At age eleven, he studied at La Roche and continued there until 1525 when he began his studies at the University of Paris. At the University of Paris, he lived at College de Sainte-Barbe with a roommate, Francis Xavier, and studied philosophy and theology. In 1529, Francis and Peter accepted another roommate, an older student, Ignatius of Loyola. Inspired by Ignatius, Peter Faber was ordained a priest in 1534. Ignatius directed him in the Spiritual Exercises before his ordination.

The original companions of Ignatius who formed the Society of Jesus, initially resolved to serve as missionaries in Jerusalem. However, because of an outbreak of war, they were unable to accomplish their original plan. As a result they traveled to Rome and put themselves at the disposal of the pope. Faber and James Laynez, another of the first Jesuits, were appointed to assist Cardinal Ennio Filanardi in reforming both the clergy and laity in Parma. He was also sent to accompany Dr. Pedro Ortiz, Charles V’s representative, to the colloquy between Catholics and Protestants in Worms, Germany. He became increasingly well known for his direction of the Spiritual Exercises and conducted missions in Portugal and Spain further opening those countries to more Jesuit activity. He was assigned to be a theologian at the Council of Trent. With the idea of visiting Ignatius, his friend and spiritual mentor before traveling to Trent, Peter Faber returned to Rome. The exhaustion from the extreme demands of his work and the hardship of his travels weakened him and he fell ill. On August 1, 1544 at the age of thirty eight, while in the presence of Ignatius, he died. In 1872, Peter Faber was beatified by Pope Pius IX and on December 17, 2014 was raised to sainthood by Jesuit Pope Francis.

Who was Ignatius of Loyola?

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491, the youngest son of a Basque nobleman. He served as a page and then as a courtier at the courts of leading Spanish noblemen. But, in 1521 a French army invaded Spain and attacked Pamplona near Castle Loyola. Ignatius led the defense until he was hit by a a canon ball which smashed his legs. The French took him to Castle Loyola where he spent nine months in convalescence reading devotional books that changed his outlook on life. He determined to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but on the way spent many months in prayer at Manresa, Spain. As his prayer deepened, he kept notes. After returning from Jerusalem, he realized he needed more education if he was to carry out his new dream – a life of serving God and helping souls. He studied Latin at Barcelona. Then, after a short time at Spain’s two leading universities, he studied at the University of Paris from 1528 to 1535.

At Paris, he gathered six other students who vowed to work for God in Jerusalem. But, war between Venice and the Turks made that impossible, so they put themselves at the service of Pope Paul III in 1538. Gradually Loyola and his companions decided to start a new religious order, the Society of Jesus, which soon gained the nickname of Jesuits. Paul III approved the order in 1540. The companions elected Ignatius Loyola their superior general and commissioned him to write the Jesuit Constitutions. They gave retreats based on Ignatius’s Manresa notes, which were updated and published as The Spiritual Exercises in 1548. That book has been translated into dozens of languages in some 5,000 editions and is the basis of Ignatian Spirituality. The Jesuits opened colleges which quickly spread not only throughout Catholic Europe, but from India to Peru. When Ignatius died in 1556, Jesuit missionaries were already working in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Ignatius Loyola was canonized in 1622.

What are the Spiritual Exercises?

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are written as a guide for retreat directors and spiritual directors to help individuals become more intimate with Jesus. As a result of our intimacy with and love for Jesus, we deeply desire to follow Jesus closely in our lives in all we do. Ignatius wrote the spiritual exercises as a result of his own conversion experience and his deepening sense of the presence and call of Christ in his own life. The exercises are organized around four weeks, as they were originally given, during the structure of a 30-day retreat. During the retreat, we pray through themes and images related to our relationship with God through love and sin, we follow Jesus in his public ministry through the passion and death of Jesus, and we join Jesus resurrected as he calls specially to each of us to serve Him and one another to build His ongoing Kingdom on Earth.

While the spiritual exercises are still offered at retreat houses during a 30-day retreat, the 19th annotation to the exercises is widely offered and includes daily prayer, and weekly meetings with a spiritual director. The 19th annotation generally lasts 10 months or so.

What is Spiritual Direction?

Spiritual Direction, sometimes known as spiritual companionship, has a long tradition in the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries, saints, mystics and Doctor’s of the Church have written of the importance of their relationship with their spiritual guides. As in past times, contemporary spiritual direction also involves sharing your spiritual questions, and experiences of God and the Holy with another in the hopes that we will be better attuned to the work of God in our everyday lives. Often we may talk about prayer as the means of conversation and relationship with God.  The spiritual director listens for God’s spirit with you, as together you discern the invitation that God offers in your life at this time. As humans, we all long for deep and conscious meaning in our lives, and for many of us, that longing brings us to a curiosity and desire to know more about God’s presence in our lives. Monthly conversations with a spiritual director can help support your path as you explore more about your images of God, feelings about God and religion, types of prayer practices, and the sacred questions of your life.



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Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius

The exercises are a pathway to recognizing God's activity in our deepest desires and growing in unity with God. Emerging from the experience of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, the Exercises provide a structured opportunity to mature in spiritual freedom and make choices that are responsive to God's call in one's life.