At an early age he was made a cleric. We do not know when, or why he was released from clerical obligations. He was brought up in the household of Juan Velásquez de Cuellar, contador mayor to Ferdinand and Isabella, and in his suite probably attended the court from time to time, though not in the royal service. This was perhaps the time of his greatest dissipation and laxity. He was affected and extravagant about his hair and dress, consumed with the desire of winning glory, and would seem to have been sometimes involved in those darker intrigues, for which handsome young courtiers too often think themselves licensed. How far he went on the downward course is still unproved. The balance of evidence tends to show that his own subsequent humble confessions of having been a great sinner should not be treated as pious exaggerations. But we have no details, not even definite charges. In 1517 a change for the better seems to have taken place; Velásquez died and Ignatius took service in the army. The turning-point of his life came in 1521.
Fr. Anthony Casamento
Fr Anthony is a priest of the Congregation of St Michael the Archangel, and is currently the Director of Identity and Mission at the Australian Catholic University.