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Francis Borgia: Wikis


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Saint Francis Borgia
Saint Francis Borgia. He is depicted performing an exorcism in this painting by Francisco Goya.
Born October 28, 1510(1510-10-28), Duchy of Gandia, Valencia, Kingdom of Spain
Died September 30, 1572 (aged 61), Rome, Papal States
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified November 23, 1624, Madrid, Kingdom of Spain by Pope Urban VIII
Canonized June 20, 1670, Rome by Pope Clement X
Major shrine His relics were translated to the Jesuit church in Madrid, Spain in 1901
Feast September 30
October 10 (Traditional Roman Catholics)
Attributes Skull crowned with an emperor's diadem
Patronage against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota, Marianas[1]

Saint Francis Borgia (Catalan: Francesc de Borja, Spanish: San Francisco de Borja) (Gandia, October 28, 1510 – September 30, 1572 AD in Rome) was a Spanish Jesuit and third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He was canonized on June 20, 1670.



He was born "Francesco Borgia de Candia d'Aragon" 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 Alfonso of 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 Holy Roman 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." Nonetheless, 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 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.

Saint Francis Borgia contemplates worldly glory in this painting by Alonso Cano, 1624

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 35 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.[2] St Francis' feast day was then assigned to his dies natalis (his birth into Heaven) on September 30.[3]Traditional Roman Catholics maintain the feast day of "St Francis Borgia, Confessor" on October 10.[4]



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

External links


  1. ^ Patron Saints Index: Saint Francis Borgia
  2. ^ "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 142
  3. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
  4. ^ See the General Roman Calendar as in 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, and the General Roman Calendar of 1962.
Preceded by
James Lainez
Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Succeeded by
Everard Mercurian

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FRANCIS BORGIA (1510-1572), Roman Catholic saint, duke of Gandia, and general of the order of Jesuits, was born at Gandia (Valencia) on the 10th of October 1510, and from boyhood was remarkable for his piety. Educated from his twelfth year at Saragossa under the charge of his uncle the archbishop, he had begun to show a strong inclination towards the monastic life, when his father sent him in 1528 to the court of Charles V. Here he distinguished himself, and on his marriage with Eleanor de Castro, a Portuguese lady of high rank, he was created marquis of Lombay, and was appointed master of the horse to the empress. He accompanied Charles on his African expedition in 1535, and also into Provence in 1536; and on the death of the empress in 1539 he was deputed to convoy the body to the burial-place in Granada. This sad duty confirmed his determination to leave the court, and also, should he survive his consort, to embrace the monastic life. On his return to Toledo, however, new honours were thrust upon him, much against his will; he was made viceroy of Catalonia and commander of the order of St James. At Barcelona, the seat of his government, he lived a life of great austerity, but discharged his official duties with energy and efficiency until 1543, when, having succeeded his father in the dukedom, he at length obtained permission to resign his viceroyalty and to retire to a more congenial mode of life at Gandia. Having already held some correspondence with Ignatius Loyola, he now powerfully encouraged the recently founded order of Jesus. One of his first cares at Gandia was to build a Jesuit college; and on the death of Eleanor in 1546, he resolved to become himself a member of the society. The difficulties arising from political and family circumstances were removed by a papal dispensation, which allowed him, in the interests of his young children, to retain his dignities and worldly possessions for four years after taking the vows. In 1550 he visited Rome, where he was received with every mark of distinction, and where he furnished the means for building the Collegium Romanum. Returning to Spain in the following year, he formally resigned his rank and estate in favour of his eldest son, assumed the Jesuit habit, was ordained priest, and entered upon a life of penance and prayer. At his own earnest request, seconded by Loyola, a proposal that he should be created a cardinal by Julius III. was departed from; and at the command of his superior he employed himself in the work of itinerant preaching. In 1554 he was appointed commissary-general of the order in Spain, Portugal and the Indies, in which capacity he showed great activity, and was successful in founding many new and thriving colleges. In 1556, shortly after Charles V. retired, Borgia had an interview with him, but would not yield to his inducements to transfer his allegiance to the older order of Hieronymites. Some time afterwards Borgia was employed by Charles to conduct negotiations with reference to a project which was to secure for Don Carlos of Spain the Portuguese succession in the event of the death of his cousin Don Sebastian. On the death of Lainez in 1565, Francis Borgia was chosen to succeed him as third general of the Jesuits. In this capacity he showed great zeal and administrative skill; and so great was the progress of the society under his government that he has sometimes been called "its second founder." The peculiarities which are most characteristic of the order were, however, derived from Loyola and Lainez, rather than from Borgia, whose ideal was a simple monasticism rather than a life of manifold and influential contact with the world. He died at Rome on the 30th of September 1572. He was beatified by Urban VIII. in 1624, and canonized by Clement X. in 1671, his festival being afterwards (1683) fixed by Innocent XI. for the 10th of October.

Several works by St Francis Borgia have been published, the principal of these being a series of Exercises similar to the Exercitia Spiritualia of Loyola, and a treatise Rhetorica Concionandi. The Opera Omnia were published at Brussels in 1675. His life was written by his confessor Pedro de Ribadeneira. See also A. Butler's Lives of the Saints, and the Breviarium Romanum (second nocturn for October 10).

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