At the siege of Pampeluna in 1521, a French cannon ball whizzed between the legs of a Basque knight named Íñigo de Oñez y Loyola, breaking his right shin and tearing his left calf. For the Roman Catholic Church, beleaguered by the Protestant Reformation, that shot was providential. Íñigo, laid up in his castle (and ever after afflicted with a limp), began thinking pious thoughts which led him, in 1534, to form a "flying squadron," the Society of Jesus, in the front ranks of the Church's Counter Reformation against Protestantism.

By that time, the Basque was known by the Latinized name of...

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