Francis Borgia

Francis Borgia

Infobox Saint
name=Saint Francis Borgia
birth_date=birth date|1510|10|28|mf=y
death_date=death date and age|1572|9|30|1510|10|28|mf=y
feast_day=September 30
October 10 (Traditional Roman Catholics)
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church

caption="Saint Francis Borgia." He is depicted performing an exorcism in this painting by Francisco Goya.
birth_place=Duchy of Gandia, Valencia, Kingdom of Spain
death_place=Rome, Papal States
beatified_date=November 23, 1624
beatified_place=Madrid, Kingdom of Spain
beatified_by=Pope Gregory XV
canonized_date=June 20, 1670
canonized_by=Pope Clement X
attributes=Skull crowned with an emperor's diadem
patronage=against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota, Marianas [ [ Patron Saints Index: Saint Francis Borgia ] ]
major_shrine=His relics were translated to the Jesuit church in Madrid, Spain in 1901

Saint Francis Borgia ( _es. San Francisco de Borja) (October 28 1510, Gandia, Valencia, Kingdom of Spain - September 30 1572, Rome) was a Spanish Jesuit and third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was canonized on June 20, 1670.


He was born within the Duchy of Gandia, Valencia on October 28, 1510. He was the son of Juan de Borgia, the 3rd Duke of Gandia and Joana of Aragon, daughter of Afonso de Aragon, Archbishop of Zaragoza, who, in turn, was the illegitimate son of Ferdinand the Catholic (King Ferdinand II of Aragon) and his mistress Aldonza Ruiz de Iborra y Alemany. Francis was also the paternal great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI.

Although as a child he was very pious and wished to become a monk, his family sent him instead to the court of the Emperor Charles V. He distinguished himself there, accompanying the Emperor on several campaigns and marrying, in Madrid in September 1526, a Portuguese noblewoman, Eleanor de Castro Melo e Menezes, by whom he had eight children: Carlos in 1530, Isabel in 1532, Juan in 1533, Álvaro circa 1535, Juana also circa 1535, Fernando in 1537, Dorotea in 1538, and Alfonso in 1539. In 1539, he convoyed the corpse of Empress Isabella of Portugal to her burial-place in Granada.

It is said that, when he saw the effect of death on the beautiful empress, he decided to "never again serve a mortal master." However, while still a young man, he was made viceroy of Catalonia, and administered the province with great efficiency. His true interests, however, lay elsewhere. When his father died, the new Duke of Gandia retired to his native place and led, with his wife and family, a life devoted entirely to Jesus Christ and The Holy Catholic Church.

In 1546 his wife Eleanor died and Francis was determined to enter the newly formed Society of Jesus. He put his affairs in order, renounced his titles in favour of his eldest son, Carlos, and became a Jesuit priest. Because of his high birth, great abilities and Europe-wide fame, he was immediately offered a cardinal's hat. This, however, he refused, preferring the life of an itinerant preacher. In time, however, his friends persuaded him to accept the leadership role that nature and circumstances had destined him for: in 1554, he became the Jesuits' commissary-general in Spain; and, in 1565, the third Father General or Superior General of the Society of Jesus.

His successes have caused historians to describe Francis as the greatest General after Saint Ignatius. He founded the "Collegium Romanum," which was to become the Gregorian University, dispatched missionaries to distant corners of the globe, advised kings and popes, and closely supervised all the affairs of the rapidly expanding order. Yet, despite the great power of his office, Francis led a humble life, and was widely regarded in his own lifetime as a saint.


Francis Borgia died on September 30, 1572 in Rome. He was beatified in Madrid on November 23, 1624 by Pope Gregory XV. He was canonized nearly thirty five years later on June 20, 1670 by Pope Clement X. His liturgical feast was inserted into the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1688 for celebration on October 10, the date then free from other celebrations that was closest to that of his death. Owing to the limited importance of his feast worldwide and the reform of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969, his commemoration was removed. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 142] St Francis' feast day was then assigned to his "dies natalis" (his birth into Heaven) on September 30. ["Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)] Traditional Roman Catholics maintain the feast day of "St Francis Borgia, Confessor" on October 10. [See the General Roman Calendar as in 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, and the General Roman Calendar of 1962.]



*Candido de Dalmases, "El Padre Francisco de Borja," Madrid, 1983.
*Margaret Yeo, "The greatest of the Borgias," New York, 1936.

External links

* [ Patron Saints Index: "Saint Francis Borgia"]
* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: "St. Francis Borgia"]
* [ Tradition in Action - Saint of the Day: "St. Francis Borgia"]

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