The Department of Mysteries: Percy Ignatius Weasley

by Bob Sindeldecker

OPENING REMARKS
As of this writing (Thursday, February 17), we have 21 more weeks until Half-Blood Prince comes out, and I have 19 columns that need to be posted before that book makes them hopelessly out-of-date. So I not only have my work cut out for me, I have a very narrow margin of choice. And to think when I started this column I had no idea how to fill it up!

Now for a few announcements…

1. I am pleased to welcome HP-OHIO into the MuggleNet family. These folks are mostly-adult Potter fans in the Buckeye State. By this I mean not that most of them are adults, but that they are all adults and act like it most of the time (when the boss is looking, usually). They plan to be at MARCON, the big Columbus sci-fi and fantasy festival, and we might do something in Columbus for the big Half-Blood Prince release. If you want to join, e-mail the webmaster (pyratem at gmail dot com) – they seem to have left a join-up form off their website. Thanks to Manda The Marvellous for telling me about HP-Ohio.

2. Almost without realizing it, I have written six fanfics already. And I wasn’t even trying! It just seemed to happen. So I signed up as an author in the Fanfic section. My pen name is “Bob Sindeldecker” – real original, I know, but I wanted readers of this column to be able to find my stories easily. Nothing is up yet, but give me time.

3. Thank you all who have contributed to relief for the tsunami victims. You have really made a difference. I have received plenty of e-mails from Sri Lanka and India thanking me, but all I did was put the word out. You deserve the real thanks.

Most of the tsunami victims are still homeless. They will remain homeless until someone gives them a home. The Shelter Charities I mentioned at the bottom of DoM #12 are helping, but they need money. Please send them some, even if it is only a few bucks. I am mailing each of them $10 a month, in cash. They need our support all year because their Good Work takes longer than emergency relief, and most people have already forgotten about the tsunami. You had, hadn’t you?

Now on with this week’s column.

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We all know that Jo Rowling often chooses significant names for her characters, names that reflect on the character’s, erm, character. Hagrid, for example, is often haggard — that is, tired and put upon. Umbridge took umbrage at everything. Rita Skeeter was always buzzing around like a mosquito (in her case literally). And Gilderoy Lockhart was a Gilded Boy — a fake Golden Boy — who seemed to have a lock on every woman’s heart.

What are we to make, then, of Percy Ignatius Weasley?

I’ll admit that at first I thought he would be a noble hero. Until OotP none of us knew his full name, so I assumed “Percy” was short for Percival. Now, Sir Percival was one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, one in fact who continued searching for the Holy Grail, the quest Arthur had assigned him, even after the others had given up. That is probably where the word “persevere” comes from. So I thought this boded well for Percy.

Then I read OotP. On p. 139 (US) in the chapter, “The Hearing” it says:

“‘Court Scribe, Percy Ignatius Weasley-‘ ‘–Witness for the defense, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.'”

Aha.

We see from this that it is in fact Dumbledore, not Percy Weasley, who is heir to the legacy of Sir Percival. We already know “Albus” is a sort of shining white corona and “Dumbledore” is Old English for bumblebee. I just told you about good Sir Percival. I am sure “Wulfric” and “Brian” are important too, and maybe that is material for another article (which youcould write, no need to wait for me). But we were discussing Percy.

The choice of “Percy” for this uptight prick of a Weasley is significant, and not just because it isn’t short for Percival. “Percy” is British slang for the male procreative organ. Since this now gives me an excuse to quote Monty Python, I will:

Your piece of pork,
Your wife’s best friend,
Your percy,
Or your cock,
— “The Penis Song” from the album Monty Python Sings

I cannot think of a better name for Percy. What a d***!

He may even live up to the less honorable implications of “Weasley.” But it is his middle name – Ignatius – that I find most revealing. What does “Ignatius” mean? Was there ever a real Ignatius? Anyone famous we might get a clue from?

You bet. The most famous Ignatius in history was Saint Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a Christian saint whose early life parallels Percy’s quite closely. Taking that and running with it, I decided to examine the rest of his life for any suggestion of Percy’s eventual fate.

The rest of this article will quote liberally (hehe) from The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, particularly the article on St. Ignatius Loyola by J.H. Pollen. All misspellings are mine, as is the fault for any misunderstanding if I left too much out.

Let’s start with this whopper:

At an early age he was made a cleric.

Bingo. Percy is a cleric. For those who play fantasy games and think a “cleric” is a priest, well, that’s half right. Actually a cleric is a clerk, someone who writes things down and keeps records – a scribe, that is. Priests were called clerics in the Middle Ages because they were often the only people who knew how to write, although not always. By 1500, when Ignatius was 9 years old, there were non-Priestly clerics.

He was affected and extravagant about his hair and dress, consumed with the desire of winning glory, and would seem to have been sometimes involved in those darker intrigues, for which handsome courtiers too often think themselves licensed.

Hmm. Now that’s interesting. This passage actually describes another character almost perfectly: Gilderoy Lockhart. It would be interesting to know what Percy thought of Lockhart in CoS, which I do not have handy. I don’t recall Percy saying anything about him. Makes you wonder, though, if they might not join forces in Book 6 or 7.

Does the description fit Percy? Sort of. He certainly has no love of hand-me-downs, having accused his father of embarrassing him. He was always very proud of being a Prefect, and of presiding over the Tri-Wizard Tournament in place of his boss, Mr. Crouch. As for intrigues, look no further than OotP. After concealing the fact that his boss was bonkers so he could run the office himself, he was made an assistant to Cornelius Fudge. As such, he had inside knowledge of the back-stabbing the Ministry gave Dumbledore, and while he warned Ron obliquely, he joined in the back-stabbing with the letter he wrote condemning Harry and praising Umbridge. Intrigues, indeed.

How far he went on the downward course is still unproved. The balance of evidence tends to show that his subsequent humble confessions of having been a great sinner should not be treated as pious exaggerations.

Eeek. I don’t wanna know. But “downward course” suggests Percy is going to get a lot worse before he gets better. Would he go so far as to become a Death Eater?

In 1517 Velasquez died and Ignatius took service in the army.

Juan Velaquez de Cuellar was an officer in the Royal Spanish court and was Ignatius’ patron, just as Crouch and later Fudge were Percy’s patrons. Entering the army is a huge switch, so I would say the HP analogue to Velasquez must be Fudge, not Crouch. Whether Fudge will die or not, we don’t know, but he will certainly be sacked, and that will probably lose Percy his job as well.

But entering the army? Which army? The British Army? We’ve seen nothing of the sort so far, and one would assume that’s just for Muggles, but you never know. Anyway, with the loss of his patron Ignatius was forced to make a drastic change, and we can expect Percy to do the same.

Sometime after his enlistment in the Army, on 20 May 1521 (Whit-Tuesday) Ignatius was injured by a cannonball which opened his left calf and broke his right shin. As a result he was operated on and spent several weeks or months in the hospital at Loyola (the exact time is unknown). During this time, his life was transformed:

So far Ignatius had shown none of the ordinary virtues of the Spanish officer. Then in order to divert the weary hours of convalescence, he asked for the romances of chivalry … instead they brought him the lives of Christ and of the saints, and he read them in the same quasi-competitive spirit with which he read the achievements of knights and warriors. “Suppose I were to rival this saint in fasting, that one in endurance, that other in pilgrimages.” He would then wander off into thoughts of chivalry, and service to fair ladies, especially to one of his rank, whose name is unknown.”

So, if Percy follows his namesake he will be wounded but still a seriously pretentious prat, and still intent on impressing fair ladies, particularly “one of his rank.”

Erm, Penelope Clearwater, perhaps?

Then all of a sudden, he became conscious that the after-effect of these dreams was to make him dry and dissatisfied, while the idea of falling into rank among the saints braced and strengthened him, and left him full of joy and peace. Next it dawned on him that the former ideas were of the World, and the latter God-sent; finally, Worldly thoughts began to lose their hold, while heavenly ones grew clearer and dearer.

WOW. If Percy follows Ignatius here, it means he has to give up both Penelope and his ambition. Something tells me Penelope won’t miss him much. More importantly, it would finally make sense that Percy was in Gryffindor and not Slytherin, where many fans think he belonged. After all, it takes some serious bravery to give up your sweetheart and turn your back on your heart’s desires.

One night as he lay awake, pondering these new lights, “he saw clearly,” so says his autobiography, “the image of Our Lady with the Holy Child Jesus,” at whose sight he felt a reassuring sweetness, which left him with such a loathing of his past sins, and especially for those of the flesh, that every unclean imagination seemed blotted out from his soul, and never again was there the least consent to any carnal thought.

DOUBLE WOW. This would mean a HUGE change, not only in Percy’s life but in the HP Series. See, Jo has said before that she is a Christian, but she’s never made religion part of the books. With Percy it appears she is going to. The question is, how will this be reconciled with magic, which is supposedly (as the Pentecostals would have us believe) evil and Demonic?

I am just guessing here, but I expect that God – not necessarily the Christian version, but a Creator – will be revealed as being literal fact, and that Percy will dedicate his life to Him. It also makes sense that Dumbledore is aware of the Creator, and that all good wizards are, while the evil ones try to deny Him and turn themselves into virtual gods. Lord Voldemort, for example.

If the above is true, then, it would make sense that not only is magic not evil, but that witches and wizards are more in tune with the Creator than Muggles. Not to say that they are more saintly – we’ve seen proof that isn’t true – but that they are more “gifted” perhaps. It is their choice of what to do with the Creator’s gifts that makes them good or evil – just like the Holy Bible says.

His conversion was now complete. Everyone noticed that he would speak of nothing but spiritual things, and his elder brother begged him not to take any rash or extreme resolution, which might compromise the honor of their family.

Back to reality, it looks like Percy will still be the same old boring, pretentious prat he always was – if anything even more insufferable, since he is all “holy” now.

When Ignatius left Loyola he had no definite plans for the future, except that he wished to rival all the saints had done in the way of penance.

Yep, same old Percy, except now his ambition is to be the saintliest wizard around. No doubt he will glom onto Dumbledore just as strongly as he once scorned him.

But he soon fell in with a kind woman, Ines Pascual, who showed him a cavern where he might retire for prayer. But here, instead of obtaining greater peace, he was consumed with the most troublesome scruples. Had he confessed this sin? Had he omitted that circumstance?

Yep, it’s just like Percy to be a perfectionist in everything, even admitting his imperfections.

At one time he was violently tempted to end his miseries by suicide, on which he resolved neither to eat nor drink (unless his life was in danger) until God granted him the peace which he desired, and so he continued until his confessor stopped him at the end of the week. At last, however, he triumphed over all obstacles, and abounded in wonderful graces and visions.

Hmmm. It sounds like Percy is going to do a lot of suffering before he finally figures things out. But we don’t mind; after all he’s got it coming.

It was at this time, too, that he began to make notes of his spiritual experiences, notes which grew into the little book of “The Spiritual Exercises.”

It is not clear if this was Ignatius’ autobiography, from which we get all of our information about him. It was at least a book about his conversion, and we can expect no less from Percy Weasley, who is certainly full of himself enough to write about it.

God also afflicted him with severe sicknesses, when he was looked after by friends in the public hospital; for many felt drawn towards him, and he requited their kind offices by teaching them how to pray and instructing them in spiritual matters.

Yep, that’s our Percy, always telling people what’s right. As for “sicknesses” in the “public hospital”… St. Mungo’s??

Having recovered his health, and acquired sufficient experience to guide him in his new life, he commenced his long-meditated migration to the Holy Land.

It will be interesting to see how JKR adapts this, if she does. We don’t know of any “Holy Land” for wizards. But then, we haven’t heard anything about their religion either. So far.

The voyage was fully as painful as he had conceived. Poverty, sickness, exposure, fatigue, starvation, dangers of shipwreck and capture, prisons, blows, contradictions, these were his daily lot.

Ewww. Contradictions?? Seriously, Ignatius suffered for his faith, and it appears Percy is going to suffer for his. Not that we mind. He deserves it, right?

And on his arrival the Franciscans, who had charge of the holy place, commanded him to return under pain of sin. Ignatius at once submitted, though it meant altering his whole plan of life.

There is no way to predict how this will find parallel in the life of Percy Weasley, but it would seem Percy is going to set a goal and then be denied that goal, at which point he will have to do something else.

Ignatius left Jerusalem in the dark as to his future. Eventually he resolved to study, in order to be of greater help to others.

Well it’s about time!

He also became thoroughly versed in the science of education, and learned by experience how the life of prayer and penance might be combined with that of teaching and study, an invaluable acquirement to the future founder of the Society of Jesus.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Percy as teacher? Maybe not at Hogwarts, at least until Book 7, but in another way, more like a spiritual guide. Once again, it would be just like Percy to found some sort of permanent society, since he thinks so highly of himself, no matter how “humble.”

(For those who don’t know, the Society of Jesus still exists today; they are popularly known as the Jesuits.)

 

The labors of Ignatius for others involved him in trials without number. At Barcelona, he was beaten senseless, and his companion killed, at the instigation of some worldlings vexed at being refused entrance into a convent which he had reformed.

Oh dear. There is a lot to explain here.

First off, the “worldlings” were men who were “worldly” in the sense that they enjoyed the pleasures of the world – sex, drinking, whatever drugs they had at the time, etc. Now, what were these party animals going to a convent for? Well, the clue is in the final word: reformed. If Ignatius reformed a convent then it must have been bad – bad in a way that Worldlings would want to visit. Bad in a way that the Worldlings would be upset when this House Of Bad Girls was reformed. And well, there are plenty of tasty young girls in a convent, so you figure it out.

Gee, most modern people think Shakespeare’s line, “Get thee to a nunnery!” was a veiled reference to another kind of house with lots of young ladies in it. Who knew he should be taken literally?

As for the trials of Ignatius, well, I am starting to feel sorry for Percy. I sure hope our prissy prat is not going to be beaten senseless, or killed. Then again, he does deserve to suffer. Just not so much that it makes me squirm.

In Paris his trials were varied — from poverty, plagues, works of charity and college discipline, on which account he was once sentenced to a public flogging.

The important thing here is that Ignatius a) traveled far and wide and b) made more “worldlings” angry, probably by trying to reform them – one gets the impression that discipline wasn’t very popular in college, not even with the teachers. It sounds as if Percy will remain insufferably sure of himself and will irritate the heck out of people by telling them what’s wrong with them. It’s not nice to shove people’s noses in their own failings, especially when they know you are right.

There are several more paragraphs in the article detailing Ignatius’ gathering of followers over the next few years. All I can say about this part is that, again, it sounds as much like Gilderoy Lockhart as Percy. Lockhart is the type who needs followers, and is also the self-righteous type who would get a movement going to reform society – really, to make it what he wants society to be, i.e. to reflect himself more perfectly. There is a huge amount of egotism in any saint.

By the winter of 1537, it was time to offer their services to the pope.

Aha! Now we are getting somewhere. Ignatius still had ambitions and visions of grandeur, obviously, and it is right up Percy’s (and Lockhart’s) alley to have them too.

At La Storta, a few miles before reaching the city [of Rome] Ignatius had a noteworthy vision. He seemed to see the Eternal Father associating him with His Son, who spoke the words: Ego vobis Romae propitius ero. Many have thought this promise simply referred to the subsequent success of the Order there. Ignatius’ own interpretation was characteristic: “I do not know whether we shall be crucified in Rome; but Jesus will be propitious.” Just before or just after this, Ignatius had suggested for the title of their brotherhood “The Company Of Jesus.” Company was taken in its military sense, and in those days a company was generally known by its captain’s name. In the Latin Bull of foundation, however, they were called “Societas Jesu.”

For those without a military background, a company is the standard fighting group of any military outfit, and a captain is the leader of a company. In the U.S. Army a company is about four platoons, or about 140 men, and a captain is a fairly low-ranking officer, an O-3. In the Navy a company is the entire crew of a ship, often thousands of men, and a captain is a much higher-ranking officer, an O-6 – a colonel in the Army. The difference reflects the different mission and organization of the two services, but in both cases a captain is the guy who directly leads his men into battle. It is interesting that Ignatius didn’t call his group “The Company of Ignatius.” By naming Jesus as their captain Ignatius seemed to act humble while actually puffing himself up. On the surface he gives up captaincy to his Lord, but really, he is commanding them with Jesus’ authority backing him up. Will Percy (or Lockhart) do something like this?

[Pope] Paul III having received the fathers favorably, all were summoned to Rome to work under the pope’s eyes. At this critical moment an active campaign of slander was opened by one Fra Matteo Mainardi (who eventually died in open heresy) and a certain Michael who had been refused admission to the order.

Here it appears Percy and his band will be welcomed, but that certain jealous others will try to sabotage him. Now, “a certain Michael”… hmmm. I have always had my suspicions about Michael Corner, who never seemed like a very good chap to me. And he is the only Michael we know of in the books. And Ginny did dump him, and she is Percy’s sister. I wonder if he will take it hard that he was “refused admission” by her?

Hitherto without superior, rule or tradition, they had prospered most remarkably. Why not continue as they had begun? The obvious answer was that without some sort of union, some houses for training postulants, they were practically doomed to die out with the existing members.

In other words, they began seeking legitimacy. They wanted a permanent home so they could add to their members and know that their work would survive them. This is to be expected for anyone starting anything new. Can we expect Percy, then, to start some sort of permanent society? And if they need a home… 12 Grimmauld Place?

But when the question arose whether they should form themselves into a compact religious order, or remain, as they were, a congregation of secular priests, opinions differed much and seriously. They had done well without strict rules. The conclusion in favor of a life under obedience was eventually reached unanimously.

Let me clarify here. “Secular priests” meant priests who served in churches, working with ordinary people – you and me. “A life under obedience” meant a life as monks, lived in a monastery, away from churches and lay people. This is significant because it suggests Percy (and Lockhart, darn it!) may choose to become some sort of Wizard monk – maybe not a religious man in the classic sense, but a wizard dedicated to studying magic in isolation, leader of a monastic order.

In April 1541 ignatius was, in spite of his reluctance, elected the first general, and on 22 April he and his companions made their profession in St. Paul Outside The Walls. The society was now full constituted.,

Huh! The first general?? I did not know the Jesuits were serious about being a military company, but I’ll take that as confirmation. Will Percy (or Lockhart) become a general in his own Holy Army? We may have to wait until Book 7 to find out.

These next few passages are the most fascinating of all, and really excite me, if I am right and Jo is going to lift from the life of the original Ignatius to fill out that of her own. After he founded the Society Of Jesus, Ignatius began writing books, the best and most popular of which is known as The Book Of The Spiritual Exercises.

 

This work originated in Ignatius’ experiences, while he was at Loyola in 1521, and the chief meditations were probably reduced to their present shapes during his life at Manresa in 1522, at the end of which period he had begun to teach them to others.

Now this is something! A book? Who do we know that writes books? Who do we know that takes pleasure – an egotistical pleasure – in teaching others, even though this character didn’t have much to teach? Gilderoy Lockhart.

If Saint Ignatius is a model for Jo to base characters on in the next two books, it is almost certain that Percy and Lockhart will be connected in some way. They were already very similar – pompous, vain, full of themselves, superficial and personally gutless – but Ignatius’ authorship of The Book Of The Spiritual Exercises and his own autobiography really clinches it. If Lockhart doesn’t write more books promoting himself, maybe Percy will. Or maybe Lockhart will write about Percy? That sounds plausible.

The question is, which will follow the other? I would guess Lockhart will follow Percy, since Percy possesses one thing Lockhart now sorely lacks, namely a working memory. Without his memory Lockhart is very simple-minded, and I am sure he will be easily led around. Those two could be as inseparable as Shaggy and Scooby, or Yogi and Boo-Boo – I don’t want to say Art Carney and Jackie Gleason because I have too much respect for those two actors.

The article says this much more about the book:

 

The exercitant (under ideal circumstances) is guided through four weeks of meditations: the first week on sin and its consequences, the second on Christ’s life on Earth, the third on His passion, the fourth on His risen life.

This is, in other words, an instruction book for those seeking Holy guidance. If Percy or Lockhart wrote such a book, why would it be needed?

Jo has told us that Books 6 and 7 are going to be even worse than GoF and OotP – she is going to kill quite a few more characters at the very least. So, it looks like the Wizarding World is going to descend into chaos and misery – remember, the Dark Lord is supposed to return and be “more terrible than ever he was” or something like that.

Could Percy be our guide out of this horror?

Let us suppose things did get very bad – and maybe Percy gets to be one of the baddest of all. Let us suppose there is no family reconciliation, but that he goes even further against his father and mother. I won’t speculate on what that might mean, but we do know that St. Ignatius made “humble confessions of having been a great sinner.” Perhaps it is his very own sins that will compel Percy to atone by going as far as possible the opposite way – by leading people away from Dark Magic and into grace with… what, exactly?

I do not know. I have long believed that Jo was leading up to a spiritual, religious or philosophical revelation in the last books of this series. Nobody reaches adulthood without learning something of that nature, and surely Jo would tell us about Harry’s spiritual development. What will Harry (and the Wizarding World) turn out to believe in? Some sort of magical version of Christianity, or something different? I have no idea. I am sure, however, that whatever it is will make us think, and will probably anger today’s most strident religious figures for the same reason St. Ignatius angered the hypocrites of his time. And Lockhart will be in there too somewhere, I’ll bet.

The rest of the article goes on to detail Ignatius’ later life and the early days of the Society Of Jesus. If Percy enjoys the same retirement and influence on his fellow wizards, that will be fine with me. After such trials, suffering and good works, he will deserve his rest.


As I mentioned above, the Shelter Charities need your help all through the year to build new homes for the homeless. I hope you can find a little each month to give to them. Here are their URLs again:

Architects Without Borders

 

Architecture For Humanity

 

Global Village Shelters

 

Relief International

 

Shelter for Life

 

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*REFERENCE:

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Ignatius Loyola
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07639c.htm

 

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