Pedro Arrupe was born in Bilbao, Spain, on 14 November 1907. After receiving
his bachelor’s degree with the Piarists, he began his medical career.
He studied medicine in Madrid for four years, with excellent results,
while, at the same time, visiting the poor quarters of the city and getting
to know firsthand situations of great need and misery. His religious formation
and temperament led him to ask many questions, such as, for example, questions
about sickness and the physical and spiritual healing of persons. After
a profound spiritual experience in Lourdes, France, he came to understand
that the best way for him to respond to these realities was to
abandon his earlier plans and to enter the Society of Jesus, which he did in 1927.
During his years of formation, beginning in Loyola, he spent time in Spain
(shortly before the Jesuits were expelled), Belgium, Holland, and the
United States. He was ordained a priest in 1936. After having made several requests,
he was finally sent to Japan in 1938. From the start, he made efforts to adapt himself
to the local culture. However, those were politically difficult years. Being a
foreigner in a time of war, he was even accused of spying and imprisoned for
several months. In Hiroshima, where he was in charge of forming young Japanese
Jesuits, he experienced the terrible atomic bomb explosion in August 1945. He
responded by taking many of the wounded to his residence, where he
cured and accompanied them.