Perhaps the work of the Society of Jesus begun by Ignatius that is best known is that of education, yet it is interesting that he had no intention of including teaching among the Jesuits' works at the beginning. The purpose of the first members was to be at the disposal of the Pope to go where they would be most needed. Before 1548 Ignatius had opened schools in Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and India, but they were intended primarily for the education of the new young Jesuit recruits. Ten such colleges within six years indicated the rapid growth of the Jesuits. But in 1548 at the request of the magistrates of Messina in Sicily, Ignatius sent five men to open a school for lay as well as Jesuit students. It soon became clear by requests from rulers, bishops and cities for schools that this work was truly one of the most effective ways to correct ignorance and corruption among the clergy and faithful, to stem the decline of the Church in the face of the Reformation, and to fulfill the motto of the Society of Jesus, "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam," - to the greater glory of God.
One of Ignatius' first principles in choosing apostolates is: all other things being equal, choose those apostolates that will influence those who have the most influence on others. Maybe the best expression of this idea was in a letter he wrote about the founding of colleges in December 1551: "From among those who are now merely students, in time some will depart to play diverse roles - one to preach and carry on the care of souls, another to government of the land and the administration of justice, and others to other callings. Finally, since young boys become grown men, their good education in life and doctrine will be beneficial to many others, with the fruit expanding more widely every day." From then on, Ignatius helped establish Jesuit schools and universities all over Europe and the world.
Watch this video to learn more about the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola