//A Board Game on Ignatius & the Questions It Raises

A Board Game on Ignatius & the Questions It Raises

On this freezing winter morning, Fr Mariusz Han, SJ has woken to his alarm at 4 a.m. But his eyes light up instantly when he talks about his creation – his board game. Called ‘Ignatius Loyola: Knight and Pilgrim’ and based on the life of the founder of the Jesuit order, it is a double-sided, three-level game that will soon be available in separate Polish and English editions.

Two days later, he gets the chance to present the game to a group of about 40 people at a conference being held near Adelaide, Australia. It is lunchtime and as any marketing expert will tell you, it’s highly unsound logic to try and present a new concept to a group of people who are actually getting out of their chairs and heading to lunch. But everyone sits down again. Fr Mariusz begins talking about the game as he holds up the board, displaying first one side and then the other. He talks briefly and sincerely about its creation and how the game is played. Time is ticking. Stomachs are rumbling. But he is succinct and to the point and he has the attention of everyone in the room. “Before we go to lunch,” he says softly, “I’d really like to play you a brief video clip about the game.”

The video clip is played and when it’s over, the audience breaks into loud and spontaneous applause. Fr Mariusz has a smile on his face. People get up from their chairs but instead of heading straight to the dining room, the majority of delegates go straight to a nearby table where the board game is displayed. Fr Mariusz fields a range of questions.

It’s been roughly two years since Fr Mariusz had the initial idea. The notion of the board game came to him during the pandemic and his initial instinct was to create something around the Battle of Pamplona, which took place in 1521. But during a phone call to his brother Tomasz in Poland, he was strongly dissuaded from focusing solely on the battle during which Ignatius of Loyola was wounded. Instead, the brothers decided that it would be best to use a much broader lens. “So after that conversation,” says Fr Mariusz, “I came around to the idea of a game that would acquaint us with his entire life and reinforce the abiding spirituality of St Ignatius.” 

 “I do not specifically regard this as ‘my game’ because in fact It has been published with the help of Jesuits in Poland and Australia, as well as lay people in both countries. Many people have made this possible,” he says.

Central to the creation of the game are these issues: Can an event from five hundred years ago, pertaining to only one person, have an influence on our present-day decisions and resolutions? Could the wound sustained by the young knight, Inigo, in the battle for Pamplona really have an impact on the destinies of people in modern times? Could the strange interaction of events between Heaven and Earth, the Cross and the Sword, really decide the shape of the Church and its mission?

“On a much broader scale, there are three core questions. First, what would be the impact on the Christian community if it lacked that one small but precious book – ‘Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola’? Second, what would the world be like if the Society of Jesus had not appeared in its history? And third, under what banner would the subsequent Millennium greet us without its intercession?

David McMahon
Courtesy: (abridged  from an article in) Australian Jesuits