Ignatius on Self-Care (1550)

While still a scholastic, Miguel Ochoa gained renown as a healer. Polanco himself at one time experienced Ochoa’s help. Because of the crowds who flocked to him, St. Ignatius had him ordained early so that he could hear their confessions. Because Miguel’s own health was fragile, Ignatius stationed him at the salubrious resort town of Tivoli and sent him this set of regulations in 1550. It has been preserved in Polanco’s original draft with St. Ignatius’s autograph corrections (printed as struck out) and additions (printed in italics). These are reproduced here. They give an idea of St. Ignatius’s attention to detail—in life as well as in letter writing.

For more sources from Ignatius, please visit the Letters of Ignatius of Loyola.



The regulations to be observed by Micer Miguel Ochoa in Tivoli are as follows:

1. He will eat regularly two times a day—unless on some weekday, such as Friday, he should be moved by devotion to fast, taking a collation in the evening instead of supper. By eating two times I mean two meals, with bread, wine, and meat or something equivalent, such as eggs or fish—unless need dictates otherwise.

2. He should have a scheduled time for dining before noon and should be home before then. In cases where he cannot get back because of urgent matters for God’s service, he should stay out and eat at any place he judges most edifying decent. Those at the house should not wait for him longer than until an hour before noon, and should eat with or without him at their scheduled time.

3. He should return home in the evening at the Angelus or before it is rung and check the house, closing the doors, etc.

4. He should go to bed at a scheduled time and see that the others do too, and should remain in bed at least six to seven hours, in order to sleep and rest.

5. Besides the office and Mass (when he says it), he should spend no more than an hour on meditation, prayer, and examen, counting morning and evening together; and during the day, particularly after eating, he should not make any protracted prayer, though he may use short elevations of his mind as often as he wishes.

6. In general, he should devote himself to the service of his neighbors in such a way that he takes into account his own bodily health for love of him for whose sake he serves his neighbors.

Monitor: Michele Bressano


June 9, 1550

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