Bloomsday is named for the day James Joyce met Nora Barnacle, the decisive personal influence in his life.
But Joyceans should perhaps mark another day as a key influence: the day he first began his Jesuit education, as a boarder at Clongowes Wood. He was six-and-a-half years old, in 1888.
From that tender age, until he was 20, Joyce was constantly under the influence of Jesuit educators - with a brief interlude at the Christian Brothers O'Connell Schools. In later life he told his friend in Trieste, Italo Svevo, that rather than alluding to him as a Catholic, "to get the correct contour on me, you ought to allude to me as a Jesuit". The Jesuit influence remained with Joyce all his life.
In his fame as an author, JJ was not - understandably for the time - immediately claimed by his erstwhile educators. Ulysses, published in 1922, was banned in America as obscene and seized at the port of Folkestone in England for similar reasons. (As every literary geek knows, paradoxically it was never banned in Ireland.)
Visitors to Clongowes were advised to "breathe not his name", and when Joyce died in 1941, neither Clongowes nor his subsequent school, Belvedere, ran an obituary in the school magazines that usually honoured old boys.
Clongowes is identified with Joyce - since it is so vividly evoked in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but Father Fergus O'Donoghue SJ, former editor of the publication Studies, thinks that Belvedere was more significant in Joyce's life. "Clongowes is more glamorous, but Belvedere had a much greater influence on Joyce."
Despite the reduced circumstances of the Joyce family - his father had no steady job, and drank more than was wise - JJ's three younger brothers also attended Belvedere. Fr O'Donoghue notes that "they were given breakfast every day" because the Jesuits were aware of the straitened circumstances of home life.
And James was a brilliant pupil. He won prizes and exhibitions from early on - Belvedere was gratified when, on two separate occasions in all-Ireland exams, he surpassed the star pupil at Belfast's elite (and Protestant!) Royal Academical Institution.
Initially, Joyce was both a bright boy and a good boy. Bruce Bradley SJ, the author of the acclaimed James Joyce's Schooldays, describes how he was elected Prefect of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary - effectively head boy. There were some hopes - and JJ entertained the idea himself - of him becoming a priest.
However, from about the age of 16, he began moving away from childhood faith, finding a new identity as "dissident and rebel". After Belvedere, he spent four more years under the influence of the Jesuits at University College Dublin, which was then Jesuit-run.
After he and Nora eloped to continental Europe, he "left the Catholic Church, hating it most fervently", writes Bruce Bradley. He described Jesuits as "black lice" to his brother Stanislaus. As we know, JJ and Nora led a peripatetic life - in Trieste, Paris, Zurich, and, like his father before him, he was constantly short of money and always moving accommodation.
Was his Jesuit education set aside when he became an apostate? On the contrary: it imbued the very fundamentals of his work as a writer. Kevin Sullivan, the Irish- American author of Joyce Among the Jesuits, claims that without that background in Clongowes and Belvedere, Joyce would never have become the great writer that he was. "The Irish Jesuits left on Joyce a psychological, moral, religious, intellectual and even social impress which… explains the kind of person he was, helps to explain the kind of work he produced." Even his rebellion "was an acknowledgement of their power and influence over him, a reluctant homage which disobedience must always pay to authority".
Joyce, as he admitted to Svevo, became a kind of artistic Jesuit - drawing on the Ignatian habit of self-discipline and focus, both in his work and his life. The "AMDG" (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: "To God's greater glory") which he wrote on school copybooks was alchemised into an unremitting dedication to his life as a writer, despite hardships.
And JJ's life had many hardships: no fixed abode, trying to earn money teaching while needing to write, gradually going blind and struggling with the serious mental illness of his daughter, Lucia. His "fortitude and endurance" were an inheritance from his Jesuit training.
Time often mellows and in his later years, he expressed gratitude for his Jesuit education, and admiration for his educators - while the Jesuit educators came to realise what a pearl they had formed, and at both Belvedere and Clongowes his portrait now hangs with pride.
When James Joyce died, Nora thought it apt to give him a secular funeral - although she had drifted back to faith - and the Zurich authorities wrote "Keine Religion" (no religion) on the official form. But, notes Fergus O'Donoghue, "that is officially XXXed over and replaced with 'Katholisch'".