Later in life, St. Ignatius joined the military. In 1521 he was injured in the Battle of Pamplona when a cannon ball crashed into his leg, causing severe fracture in which the bone protruded from his skin. Consistent with his vane nature, Ignatius underwent several painful surgeries without the benefit of modern anaesthesia to shave the bone down so he could look good in his stockings.
During one of the recoveries he was laid up in bed and asked for books to read. He had wanted to read some of the popular books on the adventures of knights, but instead he was stuck reading the lives of saints. At first, he examined their lives and thought he could do better. Ultimately, God used his reading to as vehicle for his conversion. After recovering from his surgery, Ignatius went to Montserrat and went into seclusion for a year. Then he returned to Spain where he completed his formation by studying Theology. Later he would establish his Spiritual Exercises and form the Society of Jesus.
St. Ignatius' life is one that portrays the importance of seeing the "before and after" pictures of the saints. Most didn't live their entire lives as saintly people. Like us most of them, had shortcomings that they had to overcome through the grace of God. Ignatius' story also demonstrates the importance of reading the lives of saints as part of our daily spiritual plans. In examining his life, we also see that even the saints needed to undergo periods of formation after experiencing conversion. Finally, we learn from Ignatius that just because we may begin to live our lives in concert with Christ, doesn't mean we won't encounter suffering. Instead, we are reminded that "each must take up their cross." (Mark 8:34-35)
More on St. Ignatius:
Four Essays from Ignatius Press
Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius (free ebook)