mercredi 10 octobre 2012

Saint FRANÇOIS de BORGIA, jésuite et confesseur


Alonzo Cano (1601–1667). San Francisco de Borja (Saint Francis Borgia), 
1624, 189 x 123

SAINT FRANÇOIS DE BORGIA

Jésuite

(1510-1572)

Saint François de Borgia était Espagnol et fils de prince. À peine put-il articuler quelques mots, que sa pieuse mère lui apprit à prononcer les noms sacrés de Jésus et de Marie. Âgé de cinq ans, il retenait avec une merveilleuse mémoire les sermons, le ton, les gestes des prédicateurs, et les répétait dans sa famille avec une onction touchante. Bien que sa jeunesse se passât dans le monde, à la cour de Charles-Quint, et dans le métier des armes, sa vie fut très pure et toute chrétienne; il tenait même peu aux honneurs auxquels l'avaient appelé son grand nom et ses mérites.

A vingt-huit ans, la vue du cadavre défiguré de l'impératrice Isabelle le frappa tellement, qu'il se dit à lui-même: "François, voilà ce que tu seras bientôt... A quoi te serviront les grandeurs de la terre?..." Toutefois, cédant aux instances de l'empereur, qui le fit son premier conseiller, il ne quitta le monde qu'à la mort de son épouse, Éléonore de Castro. Il avait trente-six ans; encore dut-il passer quatre ans dans le siècle, afin de pourvoir aux besoins de ses huit enfants.

François de Borgia fut digne de son maître saint Ignace; tout son éloge est dans ce mot. L'humilité fut la vertu dominante de ce prince revêtu de la livrée des pauvres du Christ. A plusieurs reprises, le Pape voulut le nommer cardinal; une première fois il se déroba par la fuite; une autre fois, saint Ignace conjura le danger.

Étant un jour en voyage avec un vieux religieux, il dut coucher sur la paille avec son compagnon, dans une misérable hôtellerie. Toute la nuit, le vieillard ne fit que tousser et cracher; ce ne fut que le lendemain matin qu'il s'aperçut de ce qui lui était arrivé; il avait couvert de ses crachats le visage et les habits du Saint. Comme il en témoignait un grand chagrin: "Que cela ne vous fasse point de peine, lui dit François, car il n'y avait pas un endroit dans la chambre où il fallût cracher plutôt que sur moi." Ce trait peint assez un homme aux vertus héroïques.

Plus l'humble religieux s'abaissait, plus les honneurs le cherchaient. Celui qui signait toutes ses lettres de ces mots: François, pécheur; celui qui ne lisait qu'à genoux les lettres de ses supérieurs, devint le troisième général de la Compagnie de Jésus.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_francois_de_borgia.html


Né en 1510, mort le 30 septembre 1572. Canonisé en 1671, fête en 1688.

Leçons des Matines (avant 1960)

Quatrième leçon. François, quatrième duc de Gandie, fils de Jean de Borgia et de Jeanne d’Aragon, petite-fille de Ferdinand le Catholique, après avoir passé au sein de sa famille une enfance admirable d’innocence et de piété, se montra plus admirable encore par la pratique exemplaire des vertus chrétiennes et l’austérité de sa vie, à la cour de l’empereur Charles-Quint, et ensuite dans le gouvernement de la Catalogne. A la mort de l’impératrice Isabelle, il fut chargé de conduire son corps à Grenade, pour y recevoir la sépulture. En voyant le changement opéré sur le visage de l’impératrice, il réfléchit à la vanité de tout ce qui est mortel, et s’engagea par vœu à se dépouiller de tous ses biens dès qu’il le pourrait, pour ne plus servir que le Roi des rois. Dès lors il avança tellement dans la vertu, qu’au milieu des affaires du siècle, il reproduisait tous les traits de la perfection religieuse, et qu’on l’appelait le prodige des princes.

Cinquième leçon. Éléonore de Castro, son épouse étant morte, il entra dans la Compagnie de Jésus, afin d’y mener plus sûrement une vie cachée, et de s’interdire l’accès aux dignités par l’engagement sacré d’un vœu. Il mérita que son exemple portât plusieurs princes à embrasser un genre de vie plus austère, et que Charles-Quint lui-même, en abdiquant l’empire, déclarât que François avait été son inspirateur et son guide. Dans cette profession de vie rigoureuse, François réduisit son corps à une maigreur extrême par le jeûne, les chaînes de fer, le cilice, des flagellations longues et sanglantes et la privation de sommeil. D’ailleurs, il ne s’épargnait aucune fatigue pour se vaincre et pour sauver les âmes. Orné de tant de vertus, il fut nommé, par saint Ignace, commissaire général de la Compagnie en Espagne, et quelques années après, on l’élut, malgré lui, troisième général de la Compagnie. Dans cette charge, il se rendit extrêmement cher aux princes temporels et aux souverains Pontifes, par sa prudence et sa sainteté. Il fonda ou développa en divers lieux nombre d’établissements, envoya des membres de sa Compagnie en Pologne, dans les îles de l’Océan, au Mexique et au Pérou, dirigea vers d’autres contrées des missionnaires qui, par leurs prédications, leurs sueurs et leur sang, propagèrent la foi catholique et romaine

Sixième leçon. Il avait de lui-même une si basse opinion qu’il s’appropriait le nom de pécheur, comme étant le sien. Il refusa avec une humilité qui ne se démentit jamais, la pourpre romaine que les souverains Pontifes lui offrirent à différentes reprises. Balayer la maison, mendier son pain aux portes, servir les malades dans les hôpitaux, par mépris de soi-même et du monde, il en faisait ses délices. Tous les jours il consacrait de longues heures, ordinairement huit et quelquefois dix, à la méditation des choses du ciel. Cent fois par jour, il faisait la génuflexion pour adorer Dieu. Jamais il n’omit de célébrer la sainte Messe. L’ardeur divine qui le consumait, se manifestait par l’éclat de son visage lorsqu’il offrait le saint Sacrifice, et quelquefois même pendant qu’il prêchait. Un instinct céleste lui marquait les lieux où le très saint corps de Jésus Christ, caché dans l’Eucharistie, se trouvait en réserve. Sur l’ordre de saint Pie V, il accompagna le Cardinal Alexandrin, légat du Siège apostolique, que le Pape envoyait auprès des princes chrétiens, pour former une ligue contre les Turcs. Ce fut donc par obéissance qu’il entreprit ce long voyage, malgré l’affaiblissement de ses forces. Il mourut à son retour à Rome, où il avait désiré achever sa vie, à l’âge de soixante-deux ans, en l’année mil cinq cent soixante-douze. Sainte Thérèse, qui recourait à ses conseils, l’appelait un saint, et Grégoire XIII, un fidèle administrateur. Enfin, de nombreux et grands miracles l’ayant glorifié, Clément X l’inscrivit au nombre des Saints.

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/10-10-St-Francois-de-Borgia


SAINT FRANÇOIS DE BORGIA, CONFESSEUR.

Vanité des vanités, tout n'est que vanité (Ecclc. I, 1) ! Il n'eut besoin d'aucun discours pour s'en convaincre, le descendant des rois célébré en ce jour, lorsqu'à l'ouverture du cercueil où l'on disait qu'était endormi ce que l'Espagne renfermait de jeunesse et de grâces, la mort lui révéla soudain ses réalités. Beautés de tous les temps, la mort seule ne meurt pas ; sinistre importune qui s'invite de vos danses et de vos plaisirs, elle assiste à tous les triomphes, elle entend les serments qui se disent éternels. Combien vite elle saura disperser vos adorateurs ! Quelques années, sinon quelques jours, peut-être moins, séparent vos parfums d'emprunt de la pourriture de la tombe.

« Assez des vains fantômes ; assez servi les rois mortels ; éveille-toi, mon âme. » C'est la réponse de François de Borgia aux enseignements du trépas. L'ami de Charles-Quint, le grand seigneur dont la noblesse, la fortune, les brillantes qualités ne sont dépassées par aucun, abandonne dès qu'il peut la cour. Ignace, l'ancien soldat du siège de Pampelune, voit le vice-roi de Catalogne se jeter à ses pieds, lui demandant de le protéger contre les honneurs qui le poursuivent jusque sous le pauvre habit de jésuite où il a mis sa gloire.

L'Eglise emploie les lignes suivantes à raconter sa vie.

François, quatrième duc de Gandie, naquit de Jean de Borgia et de Jeanne d'Aragon, petite-fille de Ferdinand le Catholique. Admirable avait été parmi les siens l'innocence et la piété de son enfance ; plus admirable fut-il encore dans les exemples de vertu chrétienne et d'austérité qu'il donna par la suite, à la cour d'abord de l'empereur Charles-Quint, plus tard comme vice-roi de Catalogne. Ayant dû conduire le corps de l'impératrice Isabelle à Grenade pour l'y remettre aux sépultures royales, l'affreux changement des traits de la défunte le pénétra tellement de la fragilité de ce qui doit mourir, qu'il s'engagea par vœu à laisser tout dès qu'il le pourrait pour servir uniquement le Roi des rois. Si grands furent dès lors ses progrès, qu'il retraçait au milieu du tourbillon des affaires une très fidèle image de la perfection religieuse, et qu'on l'appelait la merveille des princes.

A la mort d'Eléonore de Castro son épouse, il entra dans la Compagnie de Jésus. Son but était de s'y cacher plus sûrement, et de se fermer la route aux dignités par le voeu qu'on y fait à l’encontre. Nombre de personnages princiers s'honorèrent de marcher après lui sur le chemin du renoncement, et Charles-Quint lui-même ne fit pas difficulté de reconnaître que c'étaient son exemple et ses conseils qui l'avaient porté à abdiquer l'empire. Tel était le zèle de François dans la voie étroite, que ses jeûnes, l'usage qu'il s'imposait des chaînes de fer et du plus rude cilice, ses sanglantes et longues flagellations, ses privations de sommeil réduisirent à la dernière maigreur son corps; ce pendant qu'il n'épargnait aucun labeur pour se vaincre lui-même et sauver les âmes. Tant de vertu porta saint Ignace à le nommer son vicaire général pour l'Espagne, et peu après la Compagnie entière l'élisait pour troisième Général malgré ses résistances. Sa prudence, sa sainteté le rendirent particulièrement cher en cette charge aux Souverains Pontifes et aux princes. Beaucoup de maisons furent augmentées ou fondées par lui en tous lieux ; il introduisit la Compagnie en Pologne, dans les îles de l'Océan, au Mexique, au Pérou ; il envoya en d'autres contrées des missionnaires dont la prédication, les sueurs, le sang propagèrent la foi catholique romaine.

Si humbles étaient ses sentiments de lui-même, qu'il se nommait le pécheur. Souvent la pourpre romaine lui fut offerte par les Souverains Pontifes ; son invincible humilité la refusa toujours. Balayer les ordures, mendier de porte en porte, servir les malades dans les hôpitaux, étaient les délices de ce contempteur du monde et de lui-même. Chaque jour, il donnait de nombreuses heures ininterrompues, souvent huit, quelquefois dix, à la contemplation des choses célestes. Cent fois le jour, il fléchissait le genou, adorant Dieu. Jamais il n'omit de célébrer le saint Sacrifice, et l'ardeur divine qui l'embrasait se trahissait alors sur son visage ; parfois, quand il offrait la divine Hostie ou quand il prêchait, on le voyait entouré de rayons. Un instinct du ciel lui révélait les lieux où l'on gardait le très saint corps du Christ caché dans l'Eucharistie. Saint Pie V l'ayant donné comme compagnon au cardinal Alexandrini dans la légation qui avait pour but d'unir les princes chrétiens contre les Turcs, il entreprit par obéissance ce pénible voyage, les forces déjà presque épuisées ; ce fut ainsi que, dans l'obéissance, et pourtant selon son désir à Rome où il était de retour, il acheva heureusement la course de la vie, dans la soixante-deuxième année de son âge, l'an du salut mil cinq cent soixante-douze. Sainte Thérèse qui recourait à ses conseils l'appelait un saint, Grégoire XIII un serviteur fidèle. Clément X, à la suite de ses grands et nombreux miracles, l'inscrivit parmi les Saints.

« Seigneur Jésus-Christ, modèle de l'humilité véritable et sa récompense ; en la manière que vous avez fait du bienheureux François votre imitateur glorieux dans le mépris des honneurs de la terre, nous vous en supplions, faites que vous imitant nous-mêmes, nous partagions sa gloire (Collecte du jour). » C'est la prière que l'Eglise présente sous vos auspices à l'Epoux. Elle sait que, toujours grand près de Dieu, le crédit des Saints l'est surtout pour obtenir à leurs dévots clients la grâce des vertus qu'ils ont plus spécialement pratiquées.

Combien précieuse apparaît en vous cette prérogative, ô François, puisqu'elle s'exerce dans le domaine de la vertu qui attire toute grâce ici-bas, comme elle assure toute grandeur au ciel ! Depuis que l'orgueil précipita Lucifer aux abîmes et que les abaissements du Fils de l'homme ont amené son exaltation par delà les deux (Philipp. II, 6, 11), l'humilité, quoi qu'on ait dit dans nos temps, n'a rien perdu de sa valeur inestimable ; elle reste l'indispensable fondement de tout édifice spirituel ou social aspirant à la durée, la base sans laquelle nulles autres vertus, fût-ce leur reine à toutes, la divine charité, ne sauraient subsister un jour. Donc, ô François, obtenez-nous d'être humbles ; pénétrez-nous de la vanité des honneurs du monde et de ses faux plaisirs. Puisse la sainte Compagnie dont vous sûtes, après Ignace même, augmenter encore le prix pour l'Eglise, garder chèrement cet esprit qui fut vôtre, afin de grandir toujours dans l'estime du ciel et la reconnaissance de la terre.

Dom Guéranger. L'Année liturgique

SOURCE : http://www.abbaye-saint-benoit.ch/gueranger/anneliturgique/pentecote/pentecote05/046.htm


La liturgie se souvient de saint François Borgia. C'était un "grand d'Espagne" au XVIe siècle. Il était même vice-roi de Catalogne et un excellent administrateur. Après la mort de son épouse vers 1548, ayant pourvu à l'établissement de ses huit enfants, le duc François renonce au pouvoir et aux richesses. Préoccupé de réparer les fautes de ses ancêtres et de sa famille (les Borgia !), il entre dans la Compagnie de Jésus fondée par saint Ignace de Loyola. Il en deviendra le 3e supérieur général.

Le Jésuite François de Borgia va se "distinguer" par sa ferveur et son humilité : il porte l'Évangile à travers l'Espagne et le Portugal. Il aura la tâche délicate d'être l'exécuteur testamentaire de l'empereur Charles Quint dont il prononcera l'oraison funèbre. Sous sa direction, mettant en oeuvre de rares qualités administratives et humaines, la Compagnie de Jésus va se développer considérablement par les missions en Pologne, au Pérou et au Mexique. Saint François de Borgia (à ne pas confondre avec l'autre grand saint jésuite : saint François Xavier) termine sa vie à Rome, au terme d'une mission épuisante, en 1572. Son corps, transporté à Madrid, a disparu dans l'émeute de 1931. Avec saint Antoine de Padoue, saint François Borgia est le patron de l'Espagne et du Portugal. François vient du nom latin du peuple des "Francs".

Rédacteur : Frère Bernard Pineau, OP

SOURCE : http://www.lejourduseigneur.com/Web-TV/Saints/Francois-Borgia


Francisco Goya. San Francisco de Borja ayudar a un moribundo impenitente,
 1795, 38 x 29 cm, Valence, Cathédrale de Valence

Saint François Borgia

Fils aîné du troisième duc de Gandie, Francisco de Borja naquit à Gandie (sud de Valence) le 28 octobre 1510. Il était par son père, Jean de Borja, l'arrière-petit-fils du pape Alexandre VI et, par sa mère, Jeanne d'Aragon, l'arrière-petit-fils du roi Ferdinand le Catholique. Orphelin de mère en, 1520, il fut élevé par son oncle maternel, Jean d'Aragon, archevêque de Saragosse, jusqu'à ce qu'on l'appelât à la cour de la reine Jeanne la Folle, à Tordesillas, comme page de la princesse Catherine, soeur de Charles-Quint. Quand l'infante Catherine épousa le roi Jean III de Portugal, François retourna à Saragosse pour étudier la philosophie (1525).

En 1528, il entra au service de Charles-Quint qui, en 1529, lui fit épouser une dame d'honneur de l'impératrice Isabelle, Eléonore de Castro, dont il aura huit enfants ; marquis de Llombai en 1530, grand veneur de l'Empereur et grand écuyer de l'Impératrice, Charles-Quint, lui confia la surveillance de la cour pendant la victorieuse campagne contre Tunis (1536), lui demanda de l'instruire en cosmographie, puis se l'adjoignit pendant l'expédition de Provence, et mit sous son influence l'infant Philippe.

De nature pieuse, fidèle à ses devoirs, le marquis de Llombai, pendant une convalescence, lut les homélies de S. Jean Chrysostome ; lors de la campagne de Provence il assista le poète Garcilaso de la Vega dans son agonie et, au retour, après une maladie dont il crut mourir, il prit la résolution de la confession et de la communion mensuelles. Quand l'Impératrice Isabelle mourut (1° mai 1539) il fut chargé de reconnaître et de conduire à Grenade son cadavre décomposé ce qui l'impressionna si profondément qu'il s'écria : Ah ! Je n'aurai jamais d'attachement pour aucun maître que la mort me puisse ravir et Dieu seul sera l'objet de mes pensées, de mes désirs et de mon amour !

Nommé par Charles-Quint vice-roi de Catalogne (26 juin 1539) François Borgia exerça sa charge avec prudence et énergie pendant quatre ans au bout desquels il devint grand majordome de la princesse Marie de Portugal, femme de l'infant Philippe, mais il ne remplit jamais les fonctions car la reine du Portugal ne voulait pas qu'Eléonore de Castro approchât sa fille qui mourut en donnant naissance à l'infant Don Carlos (12 juillet 1545). Quatrième duc de Gandie la mort de son père (17 décembre 1542), il présidait à plus de trois mille familles vassales, au marquisat de Llombai et à quatorze baronnies.

Eléonore de Castro mourut le 27 mars 1546. Le duc de Gandie, fort lié avec les premiers Jésuites qu'il protégeait de toute son influence, suivit les exercices de saint Ignace et résolut de faire vœu de chasteté et d'obéissance, puis d'entrer dans la Compagnie de Jésus (2 juin 1546) ; il fit secrètement sa profession solennelle (1° février 1548) et s’en vint étudier la théologie à l'université de Gandie qu'il avait fondée.

Le 31 août 1550, sous prétexte de gagner l'indulgence jubilaire de l'Année Sainte, François Borgia se rendit à Rome où il fut ordonné prêtre (23 mai 1551) et célébra sa première messe (1° août). Il fut envoyé prêcher au Pays Basque, puis au Portugal. En avril 1555, il était commissaire général de la Compagnie de Jésus en Espagne et au Portugal. Charles-Quint le choisit, conjointement avec l'infant Philippe, comme son exécuteur testamentaire. Appelé à Rome, il y arriva le 7 décembre 1561 et fut élu général de la Compagnie de Jésus le 2 juillet 1565.

Il mourut à Rome, le 30 septembre 1572, à minuit. Béatifié par Urbain VIII le 21 novembre 1624, il fut canonisé par Clément X le 12 avril 1671.

SOURCE : http://missel.free.fr/Sanctoral/10/10.php



St. Francis Borgia

St. Francis Borgia 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.

The future saint was unhappy in his ancestry. His grandfather, Juan Borgia, the second son of Pope Alexander VI, was assassinated in Rome on 14 June, 1497, by an unknown hand, which his family always believed to be that of Cæsar Borgia. Rodrigo Borgia, elected pope in 1402 under the name of Alexander VI, had eight children. The eldest, Pedro Luis, had acquired in 1485 the hereditary Duchy of Gandia in the Kingdom of Valencia, which, at his death, passed to his brother Juan, who had married Maria Enriquez de Luna. Having been left a widow by the murder of her husband, Maria Enriquez withdrew to her duchy and devoted herself piously to the education of her two children, Juan and Isabel. After the marriage of her son in 1509, she followed the example of her daughter, who had entered the convent of Poor Clares in Gandia, and it was through these two women that sanctity entered the Borgia family, and in the House of Gandia was begun the work of reparation to the Borgia family name which Francis Borgia was to crown.

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 favor 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.ˇ

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.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-francis-borgia/

St. Francis Borgia

(Spanish FRANCISCO DE BORJA Y ARAGON )

Francis Borgia, born 28 October, 1510, was the son of Juan Borgia, third Duke of Gandia, and of Juana of Aragon; died 30 September, 1572. The future saint was unhappy in his ancestry. His grandfather, Juan Borgia, the second son of Alexander VI, was assassinated in Rome on 14 June, 1497, by an unknown hand, which his family always believed to be that of Cæsar Borgia. Rodrigo Borgia, elected pope in 1492 under the name of Alexander VI, had eight children. The eldest, Pedro Luis, had acquired in 1485 the hereditary Duchy of Gandia in the Kingdom of Valencia, which, at his death, passed to his brother Juan, who had married Maria Enriquez de Luna. Having been left a widow by the murder of her husband, Maria Enriquez withdrew to her duchy and devoted herself piously to the education of her two children, Juan and Isabel. After the marriage of her son in 1509, she followed the example of her daughter, who had entered the convent of Poor Clares in Gandia, and it was through these two women that sanctity entered the Borgia family, and in the House of Gandia was begun the work of reparation which Francis Borgia was to crown. Great-grandson of Alexander VI, on the paternal side, he was, on his mother's side, the great-grandson of the Catholic King Ferdinand of Aragon. This monarch had procured the appointment of his natural son, Alfonso, to the Archbishopric of Saragossa at the age of nine years. By Anna de Gurrea, Alfonso had two sons, who succeeded him in his archiepiscopal see, and two daughters, one of whom, Juana, married Duke Juan of Gandia and became the mother of our saint. By this marriage Juan had three sons and four daughters. By a second, contracted in 1523, he had five sons and five daughters. The eldest of all and heir to the dukedom was Francis. Piously reared in a court which felt the influence of the two Poor Clares, the mother and sister of the reigning duke, Francis lost his own mother when he was but ten. In 1521, a sedition amongst the populace imperilled the child's life, and the position of the nobility. When the disturbance was suppressed, Francis was sent to Saragossa to continue his education at the court of his uncle, the archbishop, an ostentatious prelate who had never been consecrated nor even ordained priest. Although in this court the Spanish faith retained its fervour, it lapsed nevertheless into the inconsistencies permitted by the times, and Francis could not disguise from himself the relation in which his grandmother stood to the dead archbishop, although he was much indebted to her for his early religious training. While at Saragossa Francis cultivated his mind and attracted the attention of his relatives by his fervour. They being desirous of assuring the fortune of the heir of Gandia, sent him at the age of twelve to Tordesillas as page to the Infanta Catarina, the youngest child and companion in solitude of the unfortunate queen, Juana the Mad.

In 1525 the Infanta married King Juan III of Portugal, and Francis returned to Saragossa to complete his education. At last, in 1528, the court of Charles V was opened to him, and the most brilliant future awaited him. On the way to Valladolid, while passing, brilliantly escorted, through Alcalá de Henares, Francis encountered a poor man whom the servants of the Inquisition were leading to prison. It was Ignatius of Loyola. The young nobleman exchanged a glance of emotion with the prisoner, little dreaming that one day they should be united by the closest ties. The emperor and empress welcomed Borgia less as a subject than as a kinsman. He was seventeen, endowed with every charm, accompanied by a magnificent train of followers, and, after the emperor, his presence was the most gallant and knightly at court. In 1529, at the desire of the empress, Charles V gave him in marriage the hand of Eleanor de Castro, at the same time making him Marquess of Lombay, master of the hounds, and equerry to the empress, and appointing Eleanor Camarera Mayor. The newly-created Marquess of Lombay enjoyed a privileged station. Whenever the emperor was travelling or conducting a campaign, he confided to the young equerry the care of the empress, and on his return to Spain treated him as a confidant and friend. In 1535, Charles V led the expedition against Tunis unaccompanied by Borgia, but in the following year the favourite followed his sovereign on the unfortunate campaign in Provence. Besides the virtues which made him the model of the court and the personal attractions which made him its ornament, the Marquess of Lombay possessed a cultivated musical taste. He delighted above all in ecclesiastical compositions, and these display a remarkable contrapuntal style and bear witness to the skill of the composer, justifying indeed the assertion that, in the sixteenth century and prior to Palestrina, Borgia was one of the chief restorers of sacred music.

In 1538, at Toledo, an eighth child was born to the Marquess of Lombay, and on 1 May of the next year the Empress Isabella died. The equerry was commissioned to convey her remains to Granada, where they were interred on 17 May. The death of the empress caused the first break in the brilliant career of the Marquess and Marchioness of Lombay. It detached them from the court and taught the nobleman the vanity of life and of its grandeurs. Blessed John of Avila preached the funeral sermon, and Francis, having made known to him his desire of reforming his life, returned to Toledo resolved to become a perfect Christian. On 26 June, 1539, Charles V named Borgia Viceroy of Catalonia, and the importance of the charge tested the sterling qualities of the courtier. Precise instructions determined his course of action. He was to reform the administration of justice, put the finances in order, fortify the city of Barcelona, and repress outlawry. On his arrival at the viceregal city, on 23 August, he at once proceeded, with an energy which no opposition could daunt, to build the ramparts, rid the country of the brigands who terrorized it, reform the monasteries, and develop learning. During his vice-regency he showed himself an inflexible justiciary, and above all an exemplary Christian. But a series of grievous trials were destined to develop in him the work of sanctification begun at Granada. In 1543 he became, by the death of his father, Duke of Gandia, and was named by the emperor master of the household of Prince Philip of Spain, who was betrothed to the Princess of Portugal. This appointment seemed to indicate Francis as the chief minister of the future reign, but by God's permission the sovereigns of Portugal opposed the appointment. Francis then retired to his Duchy of Gandia, and for three years awaited the termination of the displeasure which barred him from court. He profited by this leisure to reorganize his duchy, to found a university in which he himself took the degree of Doctor of Theology, and to attain to a still higher degree of virtue. In 1546 his wife died. The duke had invited the Jesuits to Gandia and become their protector and disciple, and even at that time their model. But he desired still more, and on 1 February, 1548, became one of them by the pronunciation of the solemn vows of religion, although authorized by the pope to remain in the world, until he should have fulfilled his obligations towards his children and his estates—his obligations as father and as ruler.

On 31 August, 1550, the Duke of Gandia left his estates to see them no more. On 23 October he arrived at Rome, threw himself at the feet of St. Ignatius, and edified by his rare humility those especially who recalled the ancient power of the Borgias. Quick to conceive great projects, he even then urged St. Ignatius to found the Roman College. On 4 February, 1551, he left Rome, without making known his intention of departure. On 4 April, he reached Azpeitia in Guipuzcoa, and chose as his abode the hermitage of Santa Magdalena near Oñate. Charles V having permitted him to relinquish his possessions, he abdicated in favour of his eldest son, was ordained priest 25 May, and at once began to deliver a series of sermons in Guipuzcoa which revived the faith of the country. Nothing was talked of throughout Spain but this change of life, and Oñate became the object of incessant pilgrimage. The neophyte was obliged to tear himself from prayer in order to preach in the cities which called him, and which his burning words, his example, and even his mere appearance, stirred profoundly. In 1553 he was invited to visit Portugal. The court received him as a messenger from God and vowed to him, thenceforth, a veneration which it has always preserved. On his return from this journey, Francis learned that, at the request of the emperor, Pope Julius III was willing to bestow on him the cardinalate. St. Ignatius prevailed upon the pope to reconsider this decision, but two years later the project was renewed and Borgia anxiously inquired whether he might in conscience oppose the desire of the pope. St. Ignatius again relieved his embarrassment by requesting him to pronounce the solemn vows of profession, by which he engaged not to accept any dignities save at the formal command of the pope. Thenceforth the saint was reassured. Pius IV and Pius V loved him too well to impose upon him a dignity which would have caused him distress. Gregory XIII, it is true, appeared resolved, in 1572, to overcome his reluctance, but on this occasion death saved him from the elevation he had so long feared.

On 10 June, 1554, St. Ignatius named Francis Borgia commissary-general of the Society in Spain. Two years later he confided to him the care of the missions of the East and West Indies, that is to say of all the missions of the Society. To do this was to entrust to a recruit the future of his order in the peninsula, but in this choice the founder displayed his rare knowledge of men, for within seven years Francis was to transform the provinces confided to him. He found them poor in subjects, containing but few houses, and those scarcely known. He left them strengthened by his influence and rich in disciples drawn from the highest grades of society. These latter, whom his example had done so much to attract, were assembled chiefly in his novitiate at Simancas, and were sufficient for numerous foundations. Everything aided Borgia — his name, his sanctity, his eager power of initiative, and his influence with the Princess Juana, who governed Castile in the absence of her brother Philip. On 22 April, 1555, Queen Juana the Mad died at Tordesillas, attended by Borgia. To the saint's presence has been ascribed the serenity enjoyed by the queen in her last moments. The veneration which he inspired was thereby increased, and furthermore his extreme austerity, the care which he lavished on the poor in the hospitals, the marvellous graces with which God surrounded his apostolate contributed to augment a renown by which he profited to further God's work. In 1565 and 1566 he founded the missions of Florida, New Spain, and Peru, thus extending even to the New World the effects of his insatiable zeal.

In December, 1556, and three other times, Charles V shut himself up at Yuste. He at once summoned thither his old favourite, whose example had done so much to inspire him with the desire to abdicate. In the following month of August, he sent him to Lisbon to deal with various questions concerning the succession of Juan III. When the emperor died, 21 September, 1558, Borgia was unable to be present at his bedside, but he was one of the testamentary executors appointed by the monarch, and it was he who, at the solemn services at Valladolid, pronounced the eulogy of the deceased sovereign. A trial was to close this period of success. In 1559 Philip II returned to reign in Spain. Prejudiced for various reasons (and his prejudice was fomented by many who were envious of Borgia, some of whose interpolated works had been recently condemned by the Inquisition), Philip seemed to have forgotten his old friendship for the Marquess of Lombay, and he manifested towards him a displeasure which increased when he learned that the saint had gone to Lisbon. Indifferent to this storm, Francis continued for two years in Portugal his preaching and his foundations, and then, at the request of Pope Pius IV, went to Rome in 1561. But storms have their providential mission. It may be questioned whether but for the disgrace of 1543 the Duke of Gandia would have become a religious, and whether, but for the trial which took him away from Spain, he would have accomplished the work which awaited him in Italy. At Rome it was not long before he won the veneration of the public. Cardinals Otho Truchsess, Archbishop of Augsburg, Stanislaus Hosius, and Alexander Farnese evinced towards him a sincere friendship. Two men above all rejoiced at his coming. They were Michael Chisleri, the future Pope Pius V, and Charles Borromeo, whom Borgia's example aided to become a saint.

On 16 February, 1564, Francis Borgia was named assistant general in Spain and Portugal, and on 20 January, 1565, was elected vicar-general of the Society of Jesus. He was elected general 2 July, 1565, by thirty-one votes out of thirty-nine, to succeed Father James Laynez. Although much weakened by his austerities, worn by attacks of gout and an affection of the stomach, the new general still possessed much strength, which, added to his abundant store of initiative, his daring in the conception and execution of vast designs, and the influence which he exercised over the Christian princes and at Rome, made him for the Society at once the exemplary model and the providential head. In Spain he had had other cares in addition to those of government. Henceforth he was to be only the general. The preacher was silent. The director of souls ceased to exercise his activity, except through his correspondence, which, it is true, was immense and which carried throughout the entire world light and strength to kings, bishops and apostles, to nearly all who in his day served the Catholic cause. His chief anxiety being to strengthen and develop his order, he sent visitors to all the provinces of Europe, to Brazil, India, and Japan. The instructions, with which he furnished them were models of prudence, kindness, and breadth of mind. For the missionaries as well as for the fathers delegated by the pope to the Diet of Augsburg, for the confessors of princes and the professors of colleges he mapped out wide and secure paths. While too much a man of duty to permit relaxation or abuse, he attracted chiefly by his kindness, and won souls to good by his example. The edition of the rules, at which he laboured incessantly, was completed in 1567. He published them at Rome, dispatched them (throughout the Society), and strongly urged their observance. The text of those now in force was edited after his death, in 1580, but it differs little from that issued by Borgia, to whom the Society owes the chief edition of its rules as well as that of the Spiritual, of which he had borne the expense in 1548. In order to ensure the spiritual and intellectual formation of the young religious and the apostolic character of the whole order, it became necessary to take other measures. The task of Borgia was to establish, first at Rome, then in all the provinces, wisely regulated novitiates and flourishing houses of study, and to develop the cultivation of the interior life by establishing in all of these the custom of a daily hour of prayer.

He completed at Rome the house and church of S. Andrea in Quirinale, in 1567. Illustrious novices flocked thither, among them Stanislaus Kostka (d. 1568), and the future martyr Rudolph Acquaviva. Since his first journey to Rome, Borgia had been preoccupied with the idea of founding a Roman college, and while in Spain had generously supported the project. In 1567, he built the church of the college, assured it even then an income of six thousand ducats, and at the same time drew up the rule of studies, which, in 1583, inspired the compilers of the Ratio Studiorum of the Society. Being a man of prayer as well as of action, the saintly general, despite overwhelming occupations, did not permit his soul to be distracted from continual contemplation. Strengthened by so vigilant and holy an administration the Society could not but develop. Spain and Portugal numbered many foundations; in Italy Borgia created the Roman province, and founded several colleges in Piedmont. France and the Northern province, however, were the chief field of his triumphs. His relations with the Cardinal de Lorraine and his influence with the French Court made it possible for him to put an end to numerous misunderstandings, to secure the revocation of several hostile edicts, and to found eight colleges in France. In Flanders and Bohemia, in the Tyrol and in Germany, he maintained and multiplied important foundations. The province of Poland was entirely his work. At Rome everything was transformed under his hands. He had built S. Andrea and the church of the Roman college. He assisted generously in the building of the Gesù, and although the official founder of that church was Cardinal Farnese, and the Roman College has taken the name of one of its greatest benefactors, Gregory XIII, Borgia contributed more than anyone towards these foundations. During the seven years of his government, Borgia had introduced so many reforms into his order as to deserve to be called its second founder. Three saints of this epoch laboured incessantly to further the renaissance of Catholicism. They were St. Francis Borgia, St. Pius V, and St. Charles Borromeo.

The pontificate of Pius V and the generalship of Borgia began within an interval of a few months and ended at almost the same time. The saintly pope had entire confidence in the saintly general, who conformed with intelligent devotion to every desire of the pontiff. It was he who inspired the pope with the idea of demanding from the Universities of Perugia and Bologna, and eventually from all the Catholic universities, a profession of the Catholic faith. It was also he who, in 1568, desired the pope to appoint a commission of cardinals charged with promoting the conversion of infidels and heretics, which was the germ of the Congregation for the Propogation of the Faith, established later by Gregory XV in 1622. A pestilential fever invaded Rome in 1566, and Borgia organized methods of relief, established ambulances, and distributed forty of his religious to such purpose that the same fever having broken out two years later it was to Borgia that the pope at once confided the task of safeguarding the city.

Francis Borgia had always greatly loved the foreign missions. He reformed those of India and the Far East and created those of America. Within a few years, he had the glory of numbering among his sons sixty-six martyrs, the most illustrious of whom were the fifty-three missionaries of Brazil who with their superior, Ignacio Azevedo, were massacred by Huguenot corsairs. It remained for Francis to terminate his beautiful life with a splendid act of obedience to the pope and devotion to the Church.

On 7 June, 1571, Pius V requested him to accompany his nephew, Cardinal Bonelli, on an embassy to Spain and Portugal. Francis was then recovering from a severe illness; it was feared that he had not the strength to bear fatigue, and he himself felt that such a journey would cost him his life, but he gave it generously. Spain welcomed him with transports. The old distrust of Philip II was forgotten. Barcelona and Valencia hastened to meet their former viceroy and saintly duke. The crowds in the streets cried: "Where is the saint?" They found him emaciated by penance. Wherever he went, he reconciled differences and soothed discord. At Madrid, Philip II received him with open arms, the Inquisition approved and recommended his genuine works. The reparation was complete, and it seemed as though God wished by this journey to give Spain to understand for the last time this living sermon, the sight of a saint. Gandia ardently desired to behold its holy duke, but he would never consent to return thither. The embassy to Lisbon was no less consoling to Borgia. Among other happy results he prevailed upon the king, Don Sebastian, to ask in marriage the hand of Marguerite of Valois, the sister of Charles IX. This was the desire of St. Pius V, but this project, being formulated too late, was frustrated by the Queen of Navarre, who had meanwhile secured the hand of Marguerite for her son. An order from the pope expressed his wish that the embassy should also reach the French court. The winter promised to be severe and was destined to prove fatal to Borgia. Still more grievous to him was to be the spectacle of the devastation which heresy had caused in that country, and which struck sorrow to the heart of the saint. At Blois, Charles IX and Catherine de' Medici accorded Borgia the reception due to a Spanish grandee, but to the cardinal legate as well as to him they gave only fair words in which there was little sincerity. On 25 February they left Blois. By the time they reached Lyons, Borgia's lungs were already affected. Under these conditions the passage of Mt. Cenis over snow-covered roads was extremely painful. By exerting all his strength the invalid reached Turin. On the way the people came out of the villages crying: "We wish to see the saint". Advised of his cousin's condition, Alfonso of Este, Duke of Ferrara, sent to Alexandria and had him brought to his ducal city, where he remained from 19 April until 3 September. His recovery was despaired of and it was said that he would not survive the autumn. Wishing to die either at Loretto or at Rome, he departed in a litter on 3 September, spent eight days at Loretto, and then, despite the sufferings caused by the slightest jolt, ordered the bearers to push forward with the utmost speed for Rome. It was expected that any instant might see the end of his agony. They reached the "Porta del Popolo" on 28 September. The dying man halted his litter and thanked God that he had been able to accomplish this act of obedience. He was borne to his cell which was soon invaded by cardinals and prelates. For two days Francis Borgia, fully conscious, awaited death, receiving those who visited him and blessing through his younger brother, Thomas Borgia, all his children and grandchildren. Shortly after midnight on 30 September, his beautiful life came to a peaceful and painless close. In the Catholic Church he had been one of the most striking examples of the conversion of souls after the Renaissance, and for the Society of Jesus he had been the protector chosen by Providence to whom, after St. Ignatius, it owes most.

In 1607 the Duke of Lerma, minister of Philip III and grandson of the holy religious, having seen his granddaughter miraculously cured through the intercession of Francis, caused the process for his canonization to be begun. The ordinary process, begun at once in several cities, was followed, in 1637, by the Apostolic process. In 1617 Madrid received the remains of the saint. In 1624 the Congregation of Rites announced that his beatification and canonization might be proceeded with. The beatification was celebrated at Madrid with incomparable splendour. Urban VIII having decreed, in 1631, that a Blessed might not be canonized without a new procedure, a new process was begun. It was reserved for Clement X to sign the Bull of canonization of St. Francis Borgia, on 20 June, 1670. Spared from the decree of Joseph Bonaparte who, in 1809, ordered the confiscation of all shrines and precious objects, the silver shrine containing the remains of the saint, after various vicissitudes, was removed, in 1901, to the church of the Society at Madrid, where it is honoured at the present time.

It is with good reason that Spain and the Church venerate in St. Francis Borgia a great man and a great saint. The highest nobles of Spain are proud of their descent from, or their connexion with him. By his penitent and apostolic life he repaired the sins of his family and rendered glorious a name, which but for him, would have remained a source of humiliation for the Church. His feast is celebrated 10 October.

Sources


Sources: Archives of Osuna (Madrid), of Simancas; National Archives of Paris; Archives of the Society of Jesus; Regeste du généralat de Laynez et de Borgia, etc. Literature: Monumenta historica S. J. (Madrid); Mon. Borgiana; Chronicon Polanci; Epistolæ Mixtæ; Quadrimetres; Epistolæ Patris Nadal, etc.; Epistolæ et instructiones S. Ignatii; ORLANDINI AND SACCHINI, Historia Societatis Jesu; ALCÁZAR, Chrono-historia de la provincia de Toledo; Lives of the saint by VASQUEZ (1586; manuscript, still unedited), RIBADENEYRA, (1592), NIEREMBERG (1643), BARTOLI (1681), CIENFUEGOS (1701); Acta SS., Oct., V; ASTRAIN, Historia de la Compañía de Jesús en la Asistencia de España, I and II (1902, 1905); BÉTHENCOURT, Historia genealógica y heráldica de la monarchía española (Madrid, 1902), IV, Gandia, Casa de Borja; Boletín de la Academia de la Historia (Madrid), passim; SUAU, S. François de Borgia in Les Saints (Paris, 1905); IDEM, Histoire de S. François de Borgia (Paris, 1909).

Suau, Pierre. "St. Francis Borgia." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 10 Oct. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06213a.htm>.


SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06213a.htm



Francis Borgia y Aragon, SJ (RM)

Born at Gandia, Valencia, Spain in 1510; died shortly after midnight on September 30, 1572, in Rome; canonized 1671.


The name of Borgia (Borja) is understandably ill-sounding; however, Saint Francis was outstanding among those who brought honor to it. He was the scion of the family that produced Pope Callistus III (1455-1458) and a great-grandson of the man who became Pope Alexander VI of unhappy memory (who had fathered four children at the time of his elevation). Alexander VI had purchased the dukedom of Gandia for his son Peter and, upon Peter's death, gave it to another son, John, who was murdered soon after his marriage.

Francis was the eldest of 14 children born to John's son, the third duke of Gandia, and Juana of Aragon, daughter of the illegitimate some of King Ferdinand of Aragon. Two of his brothers became cardinals, one an abbot, one an archbishop, and two of his sisters became abbesses. Francis studied rhetoric and philosophy under his uncle, the archbishop of Saragossa.

For ten years from 1528 the marquis of Lombay, Saint Francis, was in the service of Emperor Charles V, to whom he was an adviser. At Alcalá de Henares, Francis was impressed by the appearance of a man whom he saw being taken to prison by the Inquisitors: Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Francis accompanied the emperor on a campaign in Provence. At age 19 (1529), Francis married Eleanor de Castro, by whom he had eight children.

In 1539 the Empress Isabella died, and Francis and his wife Eleanor accompanied the funeral procession from Toledo to Elvira. When they arrived at the tombs the coffin was opened, and the sight of the decomposing body of the empress, who in her lifetime had been so beautiful, had a profound effect on Francis. Thereafter, he devoted himself to fervent prayer and took Communion frequently. He also made his first contacts with the itinerant Jesuits.

That same year, Emperor Charles V appointed him imperial viceroy in Catalonia, which has its capital at Barcelona. He proved a model governor; but he was not acceptable to everybody because of his determined efforts to suppress corrupt administration of justice by the nobility and magistrates. He later wrote: "It was when I was Viceroy of Catalonia that God prepared me to be general of the Society of Jesus." He prayed as much as he could without neglecting his duties or growing family. The frequency of his sacramental communions caused unfavorable comment.

In 1543, his father died and Francis inherited all his titles, including that of duke of Gandia, and estates. He served for a time as master of the household of Prince Philip. When King John of Portugal refused to recognize his position in Philip's household, who had broken off his engagement to John's daughter, Francis retired to his duchy where he planned to build a Jesuit college. He used this time to found a Dominican monastery on his estate, restore a hospital, fortify Gandia against Moorish attacks and Barbary pirates. His wife also planned to build a monastery, but, much to Francis's great grief, she died in 1546 before completing the plans, leaving eight children of whom the youngest was eight years old.

Shortly after the death of Doña Eleanor, Blessed Peter Favre briefly visited the duke. Peter left for Rome with a message to Saint Ignatius that his host had vowed to become a Jesuit. Ignatius advised him to wait until he had settled his children and finished the foundations that he had begun. Meanwhile he was to study for a doctorate in theology at the university in Gandia, which he had inaugurated. Francis complied until he was called to court the following year. Thereupon he wrote urgently to Saint Ignatius who allow him to make his profession privately. The 40-year-old Francis left for Rome on August 31, 1550, made his profession, and returned to Spain within four months.

Having received permission from the emperor, Francis made over his titles and estates to his eldest son, Charles, and provided for his other children. Retiring to the hermitage at Oñate near Loyola, Francis shaved his head and beard, donned clerical robes, and was ordained a priest in 1551 during Whitsuntide. His action, which on the advice of Saint Ignatius Loyola he had kept a secret until the last moment, caused a sensation and earned him the nickname 'the Holy Duke.' The first Mass that he celebrated at Vergara was so crowded that it had to be held outdoors and lasted several hours. The pope had granted a plenary indulgence for assisting at the Mass.

He did all he could--through humility and extreme asceticism--to make men forget his exalted origins, but his abilities could not be hidden. His preaching drew huge crowds in Spain and Portugal. He went through the villages with a bell, calling the children to catechism, instructing and preaching especially in Guipuzcoa. Father Francis's superior in the house treated him severely to counter the effects of his previous exalted position.

The superior had little to worry about, however. Francis imposed upon himself severe mortifications. Upon his conversion Francis was an exceedingly fat man, but his physical austerities soon returned him to normal proportions. When he was required to curb his mortifications under obedience, he would devise physical discomforts to remind him of his position before God. Later in life he believed that he had been imprudent in his mortifications.

During this period of preaching throughout Spain, he became acquainted with Saint Teresa of Ávila. He was one of the first to recognize her greatness. Later during a return to Spain he was instrumental in protecting her from her persecutors when her confessor insisted that her visitations were wiles of the devil. Francis, who had himself received many tokens of divine grace, needed only one conversation with her to be convinced that her visions were indeed divine, and after that Saint Teresa was put under Jesuit confessors.

In 1554 Saint Ignatius Loyola appointed him provincial for those countries and the Indies. In this office Francis popularized the then little-known Jesuits, founding numerous houses and colleges, attracting many good recruits, and ministering to the abdicated Charles V and the dowager queen Joanna, who had gone mad after the death of her husband fifty years earlier. Queen Joanna had a special aversion to the clergy, but allowed Francis to comfort her on her deathbed.

There was enmity between Saint Francis and the Inquisition, and King Philip II listened to the calumnies of those jealous of the saint. Nevertheless, he continued his work in Portugal until 1561, when he was summoned to Rome by Pope Pius IV at the instigation of the Jesuit general, Father Laynez. Among those who regularly attended the sermons of Saint Francis were Cardinal Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Ghislieri (Pius V).

Four years later was unanimously elected father general of the Jesuits. The order made great progress during his seven-year rule; he has, indeed, been called its second founder. In fact, it is that Francis put the roof on the building whose foundations were laid by Saint Ignatius. He revised the rule of the Society in 1567.

Francis was particularly concerned with the improvement of the Roman College (now the Gregorian University), which he had already partially endowed. He encouraged the Jesuits to engage in foreign missionary work. He built Sant'Andrea on the Quirinal, began the famous Gésu church in Rome, established the Polish province, built colleges in France, and opened American missions. In 1566, when the plague ravaged Rome, he raised money to relieve the poor and sent his priests to tend the sick in hospitals.

As general of the Society of Jesus, Francis was one of the leading figures of the counter-reformation. Francis was a typical saint of the Spanish nobility: He was courteous, humble, refined, kind, and generous to others but austere to himself. He would sign himself "Francis the Sinner," until Saint Ignatius ordered him not to do so. As the bishop of Cartagena said in a letter to a friend, he was "a model duke and a perfect Christian gentleman."

In 1571, Pope Saint Pius V chose Saint Francis to accompany a mission led by Cardinal Bonelli to several European capitals to gather support for a crusade against the Turks; his reputation had preceded him, and crowds gathered, shouting: "We want to see the saint" and clamoring to hear him preach. But the fatigue entailed aggravated his failing health. When he arrived at the home of his cousin, Duke Alfonso of Ferrara, he was so ill that he was sent to Rome on a litter.

In his last moments, as his brother Thomas rehearsed their names, Francis pronounced a blessing on each of his children and grandchildren. When Francis was no longer able to speak, a painter was sent to his bedside to record his appearance. Francis saw him, expressed his displeasure with his dying hands and eyes, and turned his face away so that nothing could be done. The saint quietly died two days after returning to Rome. He was typical of the patrician saints: self-effacing, determined, enterprising, winning people of all ranks by his kindness and courtesy (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Walsh, Yeo).

Portrayed as a Jesuit holding a skull crowned with an imperial diadem. Sometimes the skull is on a book; other times he is shown kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament (Roeder).


SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/1010.shtml



October 10

St. Francis Borgia, Confessor


        
His life, compiled by F. Ribadeneira, who was nine years his confessor, is the master-piece of that pious author, who, by his acquaintance with the holy man, and his own experience in an interior life, was excellently qualified to animate in his expression the narrative of the actions of the saint with that spirit with which they were performed. The Latin translation of this life by F. And. Scot is looser than that extant in old French, made by the lord of Betencour. This valuable work is exceedingly improved by F. Verjus, a French Jesuit, who has retained the entire spirit and piety of the original, in the life he has compiled of this saint, in a smooth, elegant, and florid style; in which performance he had also recourse to the life of St. Francis Borgia, written by F. Eusebius of Nieremberg, in 1644, to a third life, which was only in MS. though written the first in time, soon after the saint’s death, by F. Dionysius Vasquez, who had been nine years the saint’s confessor, and had lived with him a much longer time. This MS. history wants method: the original is kept in the professed house of the Jesuits at Valencia in Spain. F. Verjus also quotes large MS. memorial with which he was furnished by the saint’s decendants who flourish to this day in several illustrious branches in Spain, the chief of which is the duke of Gandia. See also F. Orlandini, Hist. Societ. l. 8, and chiefly F. Sachini, ib. t. 3, or Borgia. Likewise F. Bartoli’s curious additional anecdotes of this history collected from the archives of the Professed House at Rome.

A.D. 1572.


MANY Christians seem afraid of following Jesus Christ with their whole hearts, and live as if they were for compounding with God and the world. These persons have a very false idea of virtue, which they measure only by their want of courage. If they once opened their hearts to the divine grace, and were sincerely resolved to spare nothing that they might learn to die to themselves, and to put on the spirit of Christ, they would find all their pretended difficulties to be only shadows; for, by the omnipotent power of grace, the roughest deserts are changed into smooth and agreeable paths under the feet of the just man. This St. Francis Borgia experienced, both in a private life in the world, at court, in a religious retirement, and in the functions of an apostolic life. St. Francis Borgia, fourth duke of Gandia, and third general of the Jesuits, was son to John Borgia, duke of Gandia, and grandee of Spain, and of Joanna of Arragon, daughter of Alphonso, natural son to Ferdinand V. king of Arragon, who was also regent of Castile for his daughter Joanna, and his grandson Charles, afterwards emperor. Ferdinand, who, by taking Granada in 1491, had put an end to the reign of the Moors in Spain, and by marrying Isabel, the heiress of Castile, united that whole monarchy in his family, was great-grandfather to our saint. The family of Borgia or Borja, had long flourished in Spain; but received a new lustre by the exaltation of cardinal Alphonso Borgia to the pontificate, under the name of Calixtus III. in 1455. St. Francis was born in 1510, at Gandia, a town which was the chief seat of the family, in the kingdom of Valencia. His pious mother had a great devotion to St. Francis of Assisium, and in the pangs of a dangerous labour made a vow, that if she brought forth a son he should be called Francis. As soon as he began to speak, his parents taught him to pronounce the holy names of Jesus and Mary, which he used often to repeat with wonderful seriousness. At five years of age he recited every day on his knees the chief parts of the catechism. All his diversion was to set up pious pictures, make little altars, imitate the ceremonies of the church, and teach them to the little boys who were his pages. From the cradle he was mild, modest, patient, and affable to all. The noble sentiments of gratitude and generosity which he then began to discover, were certain presages of an innate greatness of soul; the former being inseparable from a goodness of heart, and the latter, when regulated by prudence and charity, being the greatest virtue of a prince, who is raised above others only that he may govern, and do good to mankind.

  Francis, at seven years of age, could read his mother tongue, and the Latin office of the Blessed Virgin very distinctly. His father, therefore, thought it time for him to learn writing and grammar, for which purpose he appointed him a preceptor of known prudence, learning, and piety, who was called Dr. Ferdinand. At the same time he was furnished with a governor, whose business it was at different hours to fashion the young prince to the exercises that were suitable to his birth, in proportion as his age was capable of them. It was the first care of the parents, in the choice of the masters whom they placed about their son, that they were persons of uncommon piety, whose example might be a continual lesson of virtue, and whose instructions should all ultimately tend to the grafting in his mind true sentiments of morality and religion, without which all other accomplishments lose their value. Learning, good-breeding, and other such qualifications, are useful and necessary instructions and helps; but these never make the man: every one is properly only such as the principles and maxims are by which he is governed. It is by these that a man’s life is guided; if they are false or depraved, his understanding is deprived of the light of truth, his heart is corrupted, and it is impossible he should not go astray, and fall headlong down the precipices which the world and his passions prepare for him. It is therefore the first duty of every parent and master to study, by every means, to cure the passions of youth, to begin this by repressing their exterior effects, and removing all occasions and incentives; then to instil into their minds the strongest antidotes, by which he may be enabled and encouraged to expel their poison: and for this task no age is too early or tender; for if the mind has once taken any wrong bent, it becomes infinitely more painful and difficult to redress it. Opportunities are also to be taken in all studies of seasonably and strongly inculcating short lessons of religion, and all virtues. By this means their seeds are to be sown in such a manner in a tender heart, that they may shoot deep roots, and gather such strength as to be proof against all storms. Our saint was blessed by God with such dispositions to virtue, and so good a capacity for his studies, that in all these parts of his education his masters found his task both agreeable and easy. Before he was ten years old he began to take wonderful delight in hearing sermons, and spent much time in devotion, being tenderly affected to the Passion of our divine Redeemer, which he honoured with certain daily exercises. In his tenth year, his pious mother fell dangerously ill; on which occasion, Francis, shutting himself up in his chamber, prayed for her with abundance of tears, and after his devotions, took a sharp discipline a long time together. This was the first time he used that practice of mortification, which he afterwards frequently made a part of his penance. It pleased God that the duchess died of that distemper in 1520. This loss cost Francis many tears, though he moderated his grief by his entire resignation to the divine will. Her pious counsels had always been to him a great spur to virtue; and he took care never to forget them.

  At that time Spain was filled with tumults and insurrections of the common people against the regency. 1 The rebels taking their advantage of the absence of the young king, Charles V. (who was then in Germany, where he had been chosen emperor,) plundered the houses of the nobility in the kingdom of Valencia, and made themselves masters of the town of Gandia. The duke fled with his whole family. Going to Saragossa, he left his son Francis, then twelve years old, under the care of the archbishop, John of Arragon, who was his uncle, being brother to his deceased mother. The archbishop made up a household for his nephew, and provided him with masters in grammar, music, and fencing, which he had begun to learn at Gandia. The young nobleman laboured at the same time to improve daily in grace and in every virtue. Two sermons which he heard an Hieronymite friar, who was his confessarius, and a learned and spiritual man, preach, one on the last judgment, the other on the passion of Christ, made strong impressions on his mind, so that he remained ever after exceedingly terrified at the consideration of the divine judgments, and, on the other side, conceived an ardent desire to lay down his life for the love of his divine Redeemer, who died for him. Going to Baëza to see his great grandmother, Donna Maria de Luna, wife of Don Henriquez, uncle and master of the household to King Ferdinand, and great commander of Leon, with several other relations, he was confined there six months by a grievous fit of illness; during which time he gave great proofs of admirable patience and humility. From Baëza he was sent to Tordesillas, to be taken into the family and service of the infanta Catharine, sister to Charles V. who was soon after to be married to John III. king of Portugal. The marriage was accomplished in 1525; but when the infanta went into Portugal, the Duke of Gandia, who had greater views for his son in Spain, recalled him, and engaged the archbishop of Saragossa to reassume the care of his education.

  Francis was then fifteen years old, and after he had finished rhetoric, studied philosophy two years under an excellent master with extraordinary diligence and applause. Many so learn these sciences as to put on in their thoughts and expressions a scholastic garb, which they cannot lay aside, so that their minds may be said to be cast in Gothic moulds. Hence it has become a proverb, that nothing is more horrid than a mere scholar, that is a pedant, who appears in the world to have reaped from his studies scarcely any other advantage than to be rendered by them absolutely unfit for civilized society. Nothing contributes more to improve all the faculties of the human mind than a well-regulated and well-digested course of studies, especially of the polite arts and philosophy; but then these must be polished by a genteel address and expression, by great sentiments of modesty and generosity, by a fine carriage suitable to a person’s rank, and by sincere Christian virtue. The prudent archbishop was solicitous to procure his nephew all these advantages. He was particularly careful to make his pupil active and laborious, by seeing that he went from one employment to another, without leaving any void or unprofitable time between them; nor did his masters fix the end of their instructions in the letter of his studies; but made use of everything in them to frame his judgment, and form in him true taste; and they taught him to refer everything to virtue. This seemed the natural bent of the young nobleman’s soul, and in the eighteenth year of his age he had strong inclinations to a religious state. The devil raised up instruments to second his attack, and assailed the servant of God with most violent temptations of impurity, in order to profane that pure soul which God had consecrated to himself. Francis opposed to this dangerous enemy very frequent confession, fervent prayer, reading pious books, mortification, humility, distrust in himself, and a firm confidence in God, whose mercy alone bestows the inestimable gift of chastity, and to whom this glorious victory belongs. By these means the saint triumphed over this passion, and had preserved his virginal purity unspotted, when providence fixed him in the holy state of marriage. His father and uncle, to divert his thoughts from a religious life, removed him from Saragossa to the court of Charles V. in 1528, where they hoped his thoughts would take a different turn. The ripeness of his judgment and prudence were such as seldom appear in a more advanced age; and by his virtue, and his unaffected obsequiousness, and assiduity in serving his prince, he could not fail of gaining a high place in his favour. Francis had a heart not insensible to the motives of such an honour, and full of tender sentiments of gratitude and generosity; but still more of those of religion. He considered his duty to his prince as his duty to God; and though he willingly accepted of every mark of his prince’s regard for him, he was very solicitous in all things to refer himself, his actions, and whatever he received from God, purely to the divine honour. The perfect sanctification of his own soul was his great and constant aim in all he did. As religious exercises themselves, without regularity, can never be steady, and without this advantage lose a considerable part of their lustre and merit, Francis was extremely exact in regulating both his personal devoirs, and the principal duties of his family. In it hours were appointed for every one to go every day to mass; for evening prayers, for pious reading, and meals. He heard sermons as often as possible, and conversed much with pious persons, went to confession almost every Sunday, and on all great festivals. It was also a part of his care that his whole family should spend well those days which are particularly set apart for the divine service. It is indeed from the manner in which a Christian employs them, that we may form an idea of his conduct with regard to his general practice and sense of religion.

  St. Francis, though he delighted chiefly in the company of the most virtuous, was courteous and obliging to all, never spoke ill of any one, nor ever suffered others to do it in his presence. He was a stranger to envy, ambition, gallantry, luxury, and gaming; vices which are often too fashionable in courts, and against which he armed himself with the utmost precaution. He not only never played, but would never see others playing, saying that a man commonly loses by it four things, his money, his time, the devotion of his heart to God, and his conscience. One of his servants discovered, that on the days on which he was obliged to visit company in which ladies made a part, he wore a hair-shirt. In him it appeared, that there is no readier way to gain the esteem of men, though without seeking it, than by the heroic practice of Christian virtue. Nothing is so contemptible even amongst men of the world, as insolence, pride, injustice, or anger; nothing so hateful as one who loves nobody but himself, refers everything to himself, and makes himself the centre of all his desires and actions. Nor is there anything more amiable than a man who seeks not himself, but refers himself to God, and seeks and does all things for God, and the service of others; in which Christian piety consists. The wicked themselves find no more solid comfort or protection in affliction than the friendship of such a person; even those who persecute him, because his virtue is a censure of their irregularities, nevertheless admire in their breasts that sincere piety which condemns them. This is more conspicuous when such a virtue shines forth in an exalted station. It is not therefore to be wondered that Francis was honoured and beloved by all the court, particularly by the emperor, who called him the miracle of princes.

  The empress had so great an esteem for him, and so high an idea of his merit, that she fixed her eye on him to marry Eleanor de Castro, a Portuguese lady of the first rank, a person of great piety and accomplishments, her principal favourite, who had been educated with her, and whom she had brought with her out of Portugal. The emperor was well pleased with the proposal, and concluded a treaty with the Duke of Gandia for his son’s marriage. The great qualities and virtue of the lady, and his deference for the emperor and his father, did not allow Francis long to deliberate upon so advantageous an offer, which opened to him a road to the highest favours of the court. The marriage was solemnized in the most Christian manner; to which state the saint brought the best preparation, innocence of life with unsullied purity, and an ardent spirit of religion and devotion. The emperor on that occasion created him Marquis of Lombay, and master of the horse to the empress, and having had experience of his wisdom, secrecy, and fidelity, not only admitted him into his privy-council, but took great delight in conferring often privately with him upon his most difficult undertakings, and communicated to him his most important designs. The marquis, to rid himself of the importunities of those who followed more dangerous diversions, spent some of his time in music, played on several instruments, and sung very well; he also set poetical pieces to music, and composed cantatas which were sung in some churches in Spain, and called the compositions of the Duke of Gandia; but he never could bear any profane songs. It was to please the emperor, who was fond of hawking, that he first followed that diversion, always in his majesty’s company; he was afterwards very expert, and took much delight in it. He sometimes mentioned the aspirations with which he entertained his soul on those occasions, sometimes admiring and adoring the Creator in the instinct of a bird or beast, or in the beauty of the fields and heavens; sometimes considering the obedience and docility of a bird, and the disobedience of man to God; the gratitude of a wild and fierce beast or bird, which being furnished with a little food, forgets its natural ferocity, and is made tame; yet man is ungrateful to God from whom he receives all things; the hawk soars to heaven as soon as its pinion is at liberty; yet man’s soul grovels on the earth. In such like reflections and self-reproaches the pious marquis was often much affected and confounded within himself, and to pursue his pious meditations he often left the company to hide himself in some thicket. The emperor studied mathematics, and Francis made use of the same master to learn those sciences, especially the branches which are most useful for fortifying towns, and the whole military art, on which subjects his majesty frequently conversed with him. The emperor made him his companion in his expedition into Africa against Barbarossa in 1535, and in another which he undertook against France into Provence in 1536, whence he despatched him to the empress to carry her news of his health and affairs.

  Under a violent fever with which the marquis was seized in 1535, he made a resolution to employ for his ordinary reading no other books but those of piety, especially devout instructions, the Lives of Saints, and the holy scripture, particularly the New Testament, with a good commentator; in reading which he often shut his book to meditate on what he had read. In 1537, being at the court, which was then at Segovia, he fell sick of a dangerous quinsy, in which he never ceased praying in his heart, though he was not able to pronounce the words. These accidents were divine graces which weaned Francis daily more and more from the world; though, whilst it smiled upon him, he saw the treachery, the shortness, and the dangers of its flattering enjoyments, through that gaudy flash in which it danced before his eyes. Others receive the like frequent admonitions, but soon drown them in the hurry of pleasures or temporal affairs in which they plunge their hearts. But none of those calls were lost on Francis. His life at court had always appeared a model of virtue; but as he had not yet learned perfectly to die to himself, a mixture of the world found still a place in his heart, and his virtues were very imperfect. He even feared and bitterly accused himself that he had sometimes in his life been betrayed into mortal sin; but God was pleased to call him perfectly to his service. In 1537 died his grandmother, Donna Maria Henriquez, called in religion Mary Gabriel. She was cousin-german to King Ferdinand, and married John Borgia, the second duke of Gandia. By his sudden death she remained a widow at nineteen years of age, having had by him two children, John, our saint’s father, and Isabel, who became a Poor Clare at Gandia, who was afterwards chosen abbess of that house, and was eminent for her extraordinary devotion, and love of extreme poverty and penance. Mary, her mother, after having brought up and married her son, and seen the birth of our saint, entered the same austere Order, in the thirty-fourth year of her age. The physicians declared, that if she embraced so severe a manner of life, she could not live one year; 2 nevertheless, she survived in it thirty-three years, living the most perfect model of humility, poverty, recollection, and penance, under obedience to her own daughter, who was abbess of that monastery. She met death with so much joy, that in her agony she desired a Te Deum might be sung as soon as she should have expired, in thanksgiving for her happy passage from this world to God. The marquis used afterwards to say, that from the time that his grandmother went to heaven he found his soul animated with new strength and courage to devote himself most perfectly to the divine service. God blessed his marriage with a numerous and happy offspring, five boys and three girls: Charles, the eldest, who was duke of Gandia, when Ribadeneira wrote the life of our saint; Isabel, John, Alvarez, Johanna, Fernandez, Dorothy, and Alphonsus. Dorothy died young a Poor Clare at Gandia; the rest all married, enjoyed different titles and posts of honour, and left families behind them.

  St. Francis was much affected at the death of his intimate friend, the famous poet, Garcilas de Vega, who was killed at the siege of a castle in Provence, in 1537. The death of the pious Empress Isabel happened two years after, on the 1st of May, 1539, whilst the emperor was holding the states of Castile at Toledo with the utmost pomp and magnificence. His majesty was much afflicted for the loss of so virtuous a consort. The Marquis and Marchioness of Lombay were commissioned by him to attend her corpse to Granada, where she was to be buried. When the funeral convoy arrived at Granada, and the marquis delivered the corpse into the hands of the magistrates of that city, they were on both sides to make oath that it was the body of the late empress. The coffin of lead was therefore opened, and her face was uncovered, but appeared so hideous and so much disfigured that no one knew it, and the stench was so noisome that every body made what haste he could away. Francis not knowing the face would only swear it was the body of the empress, because, from the care he had taken, he was sure nobody could have changed it upon the road. Being exceedingly struck at this spectacle, he repeated to himself: “What is now become of those eyes, once so sparkling? Where is now the beauty and graceful air of that countenance, which we so lately beheld? Are you her sacred majesty, Donna Isabel? Are you my empress, and my lady, my mistress?” The impression which this spectacle made on his soul remained strong and lively during the thirty-three years that he survived it, to his last breath. Returning that evening from the royal chapel to his lodgings he locked himself up in his chamber, and passed the whole night without a wink of sleep. Prostrate on the floor, shedding a torrent of tears, he said to himself, “What is it, my soul, that I seek in the world? How long shall I pursue and grasp at shadows? What is she already become, who was lately so beautiful, so great, so much revered? This death which has thus treated the imperial diadem, has already levelled his bow to strike me. Is it not prudent to prevent its stroke, by dying now to the world, that at my death I may live to God?” He earnestly conjured his Divine Redeemer to enlighten his soul, to draw him out of the abyss of his miseries, and to assist him by his all-powerful grace, that with his whole heart he might serve that master of whom death could not rob him. The next day, after the divine office and mass in the great church, the celebrated and holy preacher, John of Avila, made the funeral sermon, in which, with a divine unction and energy, he set forth the vanity and deceitfulness of all the short-lived enjoyments of this world, false and empty in themselves, and which entirely vanish when death cuts the thread of our life, and overturns at once all those castles which our foolish imagination has raised in the air. He then spoke of the eternal glory or misery which follows death, and of the astonishing madness of those who in this moment of life neglect to secure what is to them of such infinite importance. This discourse completed the entire conversion of the marquis, who, that afternoon, sent for the preacher, laid open to him the situation of his soul, and his desires of bidding adieu to the world. The holy director confirmed him in his resolution of quitting the court, where a soul is always exposed to many snares, and of entering upon a new course of serving God with the utmost fervour. Francis determined upon the spot to forsake the court, and soon after made a vow to embrace a religious state of life if he should survive his consort.

  At his return to Toledo the emperor made him viceroy of Catalonia, and created him knight and commander of the Order of St. James, or of the Red Cross, the most honourable in Spain. Barcelona was the residence of his government; and no sooner had he taken possession of his post, but he changed the whole face of the province. The highways were cleared of robbers; against their bands the viceroy marched in person, and caused the criminals to be rigorously executed, having first provided them with the best spiritual assistance to prepare them for their punishment and death. He carefully watched the judges, obliging them to administer justice impartially, and to despatch lawsuits with all reasonable expedition. He set up, in all parts of the province, schools and seminaries for youth, and assisted debtors and all distressed persons with extraordinary charities. The great duties of his charge, to which he applied himself with unwearied diligence, and which made him at once the judge, the father, and the protector of a numerous people, were no impediments to his exercises of religion. Four or five hours together were devoted by him to mental and vocal prayer every morning as soon as he rose, without any prejudice to public affairs or neglect of his family. He added to every hour of the divine office, which he said every day, a meditation on a station of our Saviour’s passion so as to accompany him every day through all its parts, from the garden to the sepulchre. He performed daily devotions to our Lady, in which he meditated on the principal mysteries and virtues of her life. At the times in which he gave audience or applied himself to business, he had God always present to his mind. When he was obliged to assist at public entertainments or diversions, his mind was usually so absorbed in God that if he was afterwards asked about them, he could give no account of what had passed or been said at them. Tears of devotion often gushed from his eyes, even in the midst of business, and he would sometimes thus address himself to God: “Who could ever soften this heart of mine, which is harder than flint or adamant, but you alone, O Lord! You, O God of mercies, who could draw fountains of water from a rock, and raise up sons of Abraham out of stones, could change a stony heart into one of flesh.” His austerities were excessive. He entirely laid aside suppers that he might employ that time in prayer. Having passed two lents without taking any other sustenance than once a day a mess of leeks, or some pulse with a piece of bread, and a cup of water to drink, he was desirous to fast in that manner a whole year. At the same time he kept a table suitable to his rank, for the lords who visited him, and the officers who attended him; dining with his company he ate his leeks or pulse very slowly, and conversed facetiously with them that no one might observe him, if possible, though at table his discourse generally turned on piety. His watchings, disciplines, and other austerities were very severe. By this rigorous way of living he, who was before very fat, became so lean that his servant found his clothes grown about half a yard too big for him within the space of a year. He used often to say: “We must make our way towards eternity, never regarding what men think of us or our actions, studying only to please God.” Knowing the obligation of dying perfectly to ourselves, this he endeavoured to effect from the beginning of his conversion by humiliations, and a sovereign contempt of himself. He had formerly been accustomed to communicate only once a month. Since he had altered his manner of living, he confessed his sins once every week; communicated in public on all great festivals, and privately every Sunday, generally with wonderful spiritual consolations and delights. He sometimes considered the peace, serenity and solid joy with which divine love fills a soul whose affections are disentangled from earthly things, and the inexpressible pure delights and sweetness, which the presence of the Holy Ghost infuses into hearts which he prepares by his grace to receive his communications; and comparing these with the foolish, empty, and base satisfactions of worldlings, he was not able to express his astonishment, but cried out: “O sensual, base, miserable, and blind life! is it possible that men should be such strangers to their own happiness, such enemies to themselves, to be fond of thy false enjoyments, and for their sake to deprive themselves of those that are pure, permanent, and solid!” This was the life of the devout viceroy when F. Antony Aroaz, the first professed Jesuit after the ten that were concerned in the foundation of that Order, came to preach at Barcelona. By his means Francis became acquainted with this new institute, and the character of its holy founder, to whom he wrote to consult him whether so frequent communion as once a week was to be commended in persons engaged in the world. St. Ignatius, who was then at Rome, answered him, that frequent communion is the best means to cure the disorders of our souls, and to raise them to perfect virtue: but advised him to make choice of a prudent and pious director, and to follow his advice. Pursuant to this direction Francis continued his weekly communion, employing three days before it in preparatory exercises, and three days after it in acts of thanksgiving. From that time he began frequently to make use of Jesuits for his directors, and to promote the Society of Jesus in Spain, which had been approved by Paul III. two years before.

  During this interval died John, duke of Gandia, his father, a nobleman of singular virtue. When a person complained that his alms exceeded his estate, his answer was: “If I had thrown away a larger sum on my pleasures, no one would have found fault with me. But I had rather incur your censure, and deprive myself of necessaries, than that Christ’s members should be left in distress.” Francis was much affected at the news of his death, by which the title and honours of Duke of Gandia devolved upon him. Shortly after, he obtained of the emperor, as he passed through Barcelona on his road to Italy, leave to quit his government; but his majesty insisted that he should repair to court, and accept of the office of master of the household to the infanta, Maria of Portugal, daughter to King John III. then upon the point of being married to Philip, the emperor’s son; but the death of that princess before the intended marriage set our saint at liberty to follow his own inclinations to a retired life. He therefore returned to Gandia in 1543, which town he fortified, that it might not be exposed to the plunders of the Moors and pirates from Barbary. He built a convent for the Dominicans at Lombay, repaired the hospital, and founded a college of Jesuits at Gandia. His duchess Eleanor, who concurred with him in all his pious views, fell sick of a lingering distemper, during which Francis continued to fast, pray, and give large alms for her recovery. One day as he was praying for her, prostrate in his closet, with great earnestness, he was on a sudden visited with an extraordinary interior light in his soul, and heard, as it were, a voice saying distinctly within him: “If thou wouldst have the life of the duchess prolonged, it shall be granted; but it is not expedient for thee.” This he heard so clearly and evidently that, as he assured others, he could not doubt, either then or afterwards, but it was a divine admonition. He remained exceedingly confounded; and penetrated with a most sweet and tender love of God, and bursting into a flood of tears he addressed himself to God as follows: “O my Lord and my God, leave not this, which is only in thy power, to my will. Who art Thou but my Creator and sovereign good? and who am I but a miserable creature? I am bound in all things to conform my will to thine. Thou alone knowest what is best, and what is for my good. As I am not my own, but altogether thine, so neither do I desire that my will be done, but thine, nor will I have any other will but thine. Do what thou pleasest with the life of my wife, that of my children, and my own, and with all things thou hast given me.” Thus in all our prayers which we put up to God for health, life, or any temporal blessings, we should only ask that he grant them in mercy, and so far only as he sees expedient for our spiritual good. The duke made this oblation of himself and all things that he possessed with extraordinary fervour and resignation. From that day the duchess grew every day sensibly much worse, and died on the 27th of March, 1546, leaving the duke a widower in the thirty-sixth year of his age. Her great piety, and the heroic practices of all Christian virtues by which she prepared herself for her passage, gave him the greatest comfort under his loss by an assured hope of her eternal happiness. A few days after her death, F. Peter Le Fevre or Faber, St. Ignatius’s first associate in founding his Order, came to Gandia. He was then leaving Spain to go into Italy, and was ordered by St. Ignatius to call upon the Duke of Gandia in his way. Our saint made a retreat under his direction according to the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, and rejoiced exceedingly that he had found in this experienced director such a spiritual master and guide as he wished. With him the saint agreed upon the execution of a design he had formed of founding a college of Jesuits at Gandia, and F. Le Fevre, after having said mass, laid the first stone, the duke the second, and his sons each another, on the 5th of May, 1546. In favour of this college the duke procured that Gandia should be honoured by the pope and emperor with the privileges of a university. F. Le Fevre died on the 1st of August the same year, 1546, soon after his arrival at Rome. After his departure from Gandia, St. Francis from the conferences he had with him, composed several small treatises of piety, which show by what exercises he began to lay the foundation of a spiritual life. The two first of these books treat of the method of acquiring a true knowledge of ourselves, and sincere humility. 3

  In the mean time, the good duke took a resolution to consecrate himself to God in some religious Order, and having long recommended the affair to God, and taken the advice of learned and pious men, deliberating with himself whether to prefer an active or a contemplative state, he made choice of the active, and determined to embrace the society of Jesus, then lately founded, in which he was much delighted with the zealous views of that holy Order, and with that rule by which all preferment to ecclesiastical dignities is cut off. He sent his petition for admittance to St. Ignatius at Rome by a servant. The holy founder received his request with great joy; but, in his answer, advised the duke to defer the execution of his design till he had settled his children, and finished the foundations he had begun, advising him in the mean time to study a regular course of theology at Gandia, and to take the degree of doctor in that faculty. The duke punctually obeyed his directions, but was obliged to assist, in 1547, at the cortes or general states of three kingdoms, of which that of Arragon was then compounded, and which were assembled at Monson. The reconciliation of the nobility, both among themselves and with their sovereign, was the important and delicate affair which was to be there settled. The emperor, who by former experience was well acquainted with the extraordinary integrity and abilities of the Duke of Gandia, had enjoined his son Prince Philip, who held the states, to take care that he should be appointed tratador or president. By his dexterity and steady virtue, matters were settled to the satisfaction of all parties, and the saint delivered himself this last time in which he spoke on the public affairs of state, in such a manner as to move exceedingly all who heard him. In the same year he made the first vows of the Society before private witnesses in the chapel of the college he had founded at Gandia. For St. Ignatius, knowing the earnestness of his desire to complete his intended sacrifice, and considering by how many ties he was held, which it was difficult for him to break at once, obtained a brief of the pope, by which he was allowed to spend four years in the world after he should have made his first vows. By them the saint consecrated himself with his whole heart as an holocaust to God; and, leaving his castle to his eldest son, retired into a private house, where he studied the positive and scholastic theology under the learned doctor Perez, whom he invited from Valencia to settle in his new college at Gandia. The rule of life which he prescribed himself was as follows: He rose every morning at two o’clock, spent six hours in private prayers till eight, then went to confession, heard mass, and received every day the holy communion; which he did in the great church on Sundays and holidays, on other days in his own private chapel or that of the nunnery of St. Clare. At nine o’clock he received his theological lesson, and studied till almost dinner time, when he took some moments to give audience to his officers of justice, and despatched business; he dined at twelve very temperately; after which he spent an hour in giving useful directions to his children, servants, and others; the afternoons he gave to his studies, and the evenings to his devotions without ever taking any supper or collation. In his night examination he was remarkably rigorous in calling himself to account, and punishing himself for the least failings that he apprehended. He married his eldest son Charles to Donna Maria Centellas, the daughter of Francis Centellas, count of Oliva, and Donna Maria Cardona, daughter to the duke of that name. The saint also made a provision for all his other children, took the degree of doctor at Gandia, and made his will which was no difficult task, as by his prudence and economy he was his own executor, and left no obligations undischarged; only he recommended to his heirs the protection of his three convents, of the Jesuits, Dominicans, and Poor Clares.

  11
  Having finished his affairs, though the four years which were granted him were not expired, he set out for Rome in 1549, being accompanied by his second son John, thirty servants, and some Jesuits who went from their convent at Gandia to a general chapter which was then held at Rome. In going out of the town of Gandia he sung those two verses: When Israel went out of Egypt: and, Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. In his journey he observed the same rule of life which he had followed the three last years, spending as much time in prayer, and going to confession, and receiving the communion every day. Notwithstanding his repugnance, he was obliged to submit to the magnificent receptions he met with at Ferrara, that of the Duke of Florence, and at Rome, where he arrived on the 31st of August, 1550. He refused to lodge in the pope’s palace or any other which he was earnestly pressed to do, and chose a mean cell in the convent of the Jesuits. St. Ignatius waited to receive him at the door, and the duke, throwing himself at his feet, begged his blessing, and honoured him as his father and superior. After paying his obedience to the pope, and receiving and returning the visits of all the great men at Rome, he performed his devotions for the Jubilee. With a considerable sum of money which he brought from Spain he built a church for the use of the Professed House, and laid the foundation of a great college of Jesuits called The Roman College; but refused the title and honour of founder. Pope Gregory XIII., finished it in the most magnificent and complete manner. From Rome he sent a gentleman who was a domestic client, to the Emperor in Germany, to beg his license to resign his duchy to his eldest son. He laments, in his letter to that prince, and accuses himself that, by the scandalous life he had led in his court, he had deserved hell, and even the lowest place in hell; earnestly thanks the divine mercy for having borne with him with infinite goodness and patience; he expresses an humble and tender gratitude to the fathers of the Society, who, out of compassion for his soul, had admitted him amongst them to spend the remaining part of his life in penance and in the divine service. He promises his imperial majesty to pray that God who had made him victorious over his enemies, would give him the more important victory over his passions, and himself, and enkindled his pure love in his soul, with an ardent devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ, so that the cross should become his delight and his glory. This letter was dated at Rome the 15th of January, 1551.

  12
  Upon a rumour that Pope Julius III. was resolved to promote our saint to the dignity of cardinal, he obtained the leave of St. Ignatius, after having staid four months at Rome, to withdraw privately into Spain, where he lived some time concealed in Guipuscoa, (a small province in Biscay,) at the castle of Loyola, then retired to a small convent of his Order at Ognata, a town about four leagues from Loyola. In this place the emperor’s obliging answer was brought him, in which his majesty expressed how much he was edified at the exchange he had made of the world for heaven, and how much he was afflicted to lose him; but ratified his request, and promised to take his children under his special protection. The duke having read this letter, retired into an oratory, and, prostrate on the ground, made the most perfect consecration of himself to God; and desiring no other riches or possession but him alone, and renouncing in his heart the whole world, he earnestly begged the grace perfectly to die to himself, that God alone, or his love, might live and reign in his soul, and that he might deserve to carry the cross of his Redeemer by the practice of mortification and poverty. Coming out of his closet he made a solemn renunciation of all his worldly dignities and possessions according to the legal forms, in favour of his eldest son, who was absent; then cut his hair, put off his ducal robes, and put on the Jesuit’s habit. This being done, he went again into the oratory to renew his offering of himself to God, and to beg his grace that his sacrifice might be made entire, and he sung with great joy those words of the psalmist: I am thy servant. This passed in 1551. After the most devout preparation he was ordained priest on the 1st of August the same year, and said his first mass in the chapel of Loyola.

  13
  The saint begged of the magistrates of Ognata a small hermitage dedicated in honour of St. Mary Magdalen, a mile from that town, and with the leave of his superior retired thither with certain fathers of the Society, that he might more heartily devote himself to the practices of humility, penance, and prayer. With great importunity he obtained leave to serve the cook, fetch water, and carry wood; he made the fire and swept the kitchen; and when he waited at table, he often fell on his knees to beg pardon of the fathers and lay-brothers for having served them ill; and he frequently kissed their feet with extraordinary affection and humility. He loved and coveted the meanest employs with a sincere affection of humility, and was delighted to carry a wallet on his shoulders to beg, especially where he was not known. He often went through the villages with a bell, calling the children to catechism, and diligently teaching them their prayers and the Christian doctrine, and instructing and preaching to all ranks, especially the poor. At the earnest request of the viceroy of Navarre, Don Bernardin of Cardenas, Duke of Marquede, the saint preached in that country with incredible fruit, and the duke regulated his whole conduct and all his affairs by the saint’s direction. The emperor and Pope Julius III. concurred in the design of adopting St. Francis into the college of cardinals. St. Ignatius fell at the feet of his holiness, begging he would not inflict such a wound on his Society, by which its fences would be broken down, and one of its most express rules rendered useless. St. Francis had recourse to tears, prayer, and extraordinary mortifications, to avert the danger. When this storm was blown over, St. Ignatius sent St. Francis an order to preach in other parts of Spain, to which he was invited with great importunity. The success which every where attended his labours is not to be conceived; and many persons of the first quality desired to regulate their families and their consciences entirely by his advice. After doing wonders in Castile and Andalusia, he seemed to surpass himself in Portugal, especially at Evora and Lisbon. King John III. had been the warmest protector of the Society from its infancy. His brother the infant Don Lewis desired to make himself a Jesuit: but St. Francis and St. Ignatius thinking his assistance necessary to the king in the administration of the public affairs, persuaded him to satisfy himself with following a plan of life which St. Francis drew up for him in the world. The most learned doctors acknowledge that the spiritual wisdom of this saint was not learned from the books which he was accustomed to read, but from secret humble prayer, and a close communication with the divine wisdom. St. Ignatius augmenting the provinces of the Society in Spain to the number of five, besides the Indies, appointed St. Francis commissary-general of the Order in Spain, Portugal, and the Indies in 1554; but obliged him in the practice of particular austerities to obey another; for such had always been the fervour of our saint in his severe penitential exercises, that the holy general had found it necessary from the beginning of his conversion to mitigate them by strict injunctions. Amidst the numberless conversions of souls, and the foundations of new houses, St. Francis found time and opportunities for his accustomed devotions and humiliations in serving his brethren and the poor in hospitals and prisons. When any one was fallen into any fault, he would say to them: “Through my unworthiness God has permitted such a misfortune to befal you. We will join our endeavours in doing penance. For my part I will fast or pray, or take a discipline so and so: what will you do?” On the like occasions such was his patience and humility, it seemed impossible for any one to resist the force of his example and charity. St. Ignatius dying in 1556, F. Laynez was chosen second general of the Society, St. Francis being at that time detained in Spain by a fit of the gout.

  14
  The Emperor Charles V., sated with the emptiness of worldly grandeur, and wearied with the dissipation, fatigues, and weight of government, forsook the world, abdicated the empire by a solemn act which he signed at Zuytburg in Zell, on the 7th of September, 1556, and chose for the place of his retirement a great monastery of Hieronymites, called St. Justus, in the most agreeable plains of Placentia, in Spanish Estramadura, not far from Portugal. Antonio de Vera, 4 De Thou, 5 Surius, 6 Sleidan, and many other historians give us an edifying account of the life he led in this solitude, applying himself much to pious reading (in which the works of St. Bernard were his chiefest delight), to the practices of devotion, and to frequent meditation on death. That this might make the stronger impression on his mind, he caused his own funeral office to be celebrated before he died, and assisted himself at the ceremony, dressed in black. He worked in his garden, and at making clocks, assisted at all the divine offices, communicated very often at mass, and took the discipline with the monks every Friday. As he travelled through Spain to the place of his retirement, from Biscay, where he landed, he saw himself neglected by the president of Castile and others who had the greatest obligations to him; and he found the payments slack of the small pension which was all he had reserved out of so many kingdoms. Hereupon he let drop some words of complaint; but, desiring to see F. Francis Borgia, the saint waited upon him, and the emperor was wonderfully comforted by his discourses. This prince had been prepossessed against the Society, and expressed his surprise that F. Francis should have preferred it to so many ancient Orders. The saint removed his prejudices, and for the motives which had determined him in his choice, he alleged that God had called him to a state in which the active and contemplative life are joined together, and in which he was freed from the danger of being raised to dignities, to shun which he had fled from the world. He added, that if the Society was a new Order, the fervour of those who are engaged in it answered that objection. After staying three days with the emperor, he took leave, and continued his visitation of the colleges and new foundations erected in favour of his Order in Spain.

  15
  The Society sustained a great loss by the death of John III., the most valiant and pious king of Portugal, who was carried off by an apoplexy in the year 1557. This great and religious prince, who had succeeded his father, Emmanuel the Great, in 1521, during a reign of thirty-six years had laboured with great zeal to propagate the faith in Asia and Africa, and had founded many colleges and convents. The crown devolved upon his grandson Sebastian, then only three years old, his father, the infant John, son to the late king, and his mother, Joanna, daughter to Charles V., being both dead. His grandmother, Queen Catharine, was regent of the kingdom, to whom St. Francis wrote a letter of condolence and consolation, tenderly exhorting her to praise God for all his mercies, to be resigned to his holy will, and to have no other view than to advance in his grace and love. Afterwards the emperor deputed St. Francis to make his compliments of condolence to the queen regent, and treat with her about certain affairs of great importance. A dangerous pestilential fever and her majesty’s great respect for his person detained him a considerable time in Portugal; but before the end of the year he went back to the emperor to inform him of the result of his commission. His majesty soon after sent for him again, and discoursed with him on spiritual things, especially prayer, works of satisfaction, and penance, and the making the best preparation for death. The emperor told St. Francis that since he had been twenty-one years of age he had never passed a day without mental prayer, and he asked, among other scruples, whether it was a sin of vanity in him to have committed to writing several actions of his life, seeing he had done it for the sake, not of human applause, but of truth, and merely because he had found them misrepresented in other histories he had read. St. Francis left him to go to Valladolid; but had not been there many days before news was brought of the emperor’s death. That prince, after devoutly confessing his sins, and receiving the viaticum and the extreme unction, holding a crucifix in his hands, and repeating the holy name of Jesus, expired on the 21st of September, 1558. St. Francis made his funeral panegyric at Valladolid, insisting on his happiness in having forsaken the world before it forsook him, in order to complete his victory over himself.

  16
  The true greatness of our saint appeared not in the honours and applause which he often received, but in the sincere humility which he took care constantly to nourish and improve in his heart. In these dispositions he looked upon humiliations as his greatest gain and honour. From the time that he began to give himself totally to the divine service, he learned the infinite importance and difficulty of attaining to perfect humility. The most profound interior exercise of that virtue was the constant employment of his soul. At all times he studied most perfectly to confound and humble himself in the divine presence beneath all creatures, and within himself. Amidst the greatest honours and respect that were shown him at Valladolid, his companion, F. Bustamanti, took notice, that he was not only mortified and afflicted, but more than ordinarily confounded; of which he asked the reason. “I considered,” said the saint, “in my morning meditation, that hell is my due; and I think that all men, even children, and all dumb creatures ought to cry out to me: Away; hell is thy place; or thou art one whose soul ought to be in hell.” From this reflection he humbled his soul, and raised himself to the most ardent love of God, and tender affection towards the divine mercy. He one day told the novices that, in meditating on the actions of Christ, he had for six years always placed himself in spirit at the feet of Judas; but that, considering that Christ had washed the feet of that traitor, he durst not approach, and from that time looked upon himself as excluded from all places, and unworthy to hold any in the world, and looked upon all other creatures with a degree of respect, and at a distance. When the mules and equipages of many cardinals and princes preceded him, to show him honour in the entry he made at Rome in 1550, before he had laid aside his titles and rank in the world, he said: “Nothing is more just than that brute beasts should be the companions of one who resembles them.” At all commendations or applause he always shuddered, calling to mind the dreadful account he must one day give to God, how far he was from the least degree of virtue, and how base and execrable hypocrisy will appear at the last day. Upon his renouncing the world, in his letters he subscribed himself Francis the Sinner, calling this his only title, till St. Ignatius ordered him to omit it, as a singularity. In this interior spirit of humility he laid hold of every opportunity of practising exterior humiliations, as the means perfectly to extinguish all pride in his heart, and to ground himself in the most sincere contempt of himself. He pressed with the utmost importunity Don Philip, whilst that prince was regent of Spain for his father, to extort from him a promise that he would never concur to his being nominated bishop, or raised to any other ecclesiastical dignity; adding, that this would be the highest favour he could receive from him. Others, he said, could live humble in spirit amidst honours, and in high posts, which the established subordination of the world makes necessary; but, for his part, it was his earnest desire and ambition to leave the world in embracing the state of a poor religious man. When a gentleman, whom John, king of Portugal, sent to compliment him upon his first coming to Lisbon, used the title of his lordship, the saint was uneasy, and said, he was indeed tired with his journey, but much more with that word. He used to say, that he had reaped this only advantage from having been duke, that he was on that account admitted into the Society; for he should otherwise have been rejected as unfit and incapable. His greatest delight was to instruct the poor in places where he was unknown, or to perform the meanest offices in the convents where he came. It was his ambition at college to teach the lowest class of grammar, and only dropped that request upon being told he was not qualified for the task. At Evora, when the whole country assembled to receive from him some instruction, he threw himself on his knees, and kissed the feet of all the fathers and lay-brothers: with which act of humility they were more affected than they could have been by any sermon. At Porto, though commissary of his Order, he took the keys of the gate, and served as porter. A certain postulant who was sent thither to him from Seville at that time, in order to be admitted to the noviciate, found him at the gate among the poor. St. Francis told him there was a great heap of filth near them, which he was to carry away, and asked if he would help him. The postulant readily assented, and they cleansed the place. When he had eaten something very bitter and very ill dressed, on a journey, his companion, F. Bustamanti, asked him how he could eat it. His answer was: “It would seem delicious to one who had tasted of the gall with which the damned are tormented in hell.” In travelling he generally lay on straw, or, in winter, in barns. A nobleman, who had been his friend in the world, asked him how he could rest so ill accommodated, and entreated him to accept of better lodgings, and, in journies, to send a messenger to prepare necessaries before he arrived. The saint replied: “I always send a faithful messenger before me to do all that.” “Who is that?” said the other. “It is,” replied the saint, “the consideration of what I deserve for my sins. Any lodging appears too good for one whose dwelling ought to be in hell.” Being once on a journey with F. Bustamanti, they lay all night together in a cottage upon straw, and F. Bustamanti, who was very old and asthmatical, coughed and spit all night; and, thinking that he spit upon the wall, frequently disgorged a great quantity of phlegm on his face, which the saint never turned from him. Next morning F. Bustamanti, finding what he had done, was in great confusion, and begged his pardon. Francis answered: “You have no reason; for you could not have found a fouler place, or fitter to be spit upon.” Trials which are involuntary are much more profitable than humiliations of choice, in which self-love easily insinuates itself. Such, therefore, as Providence sent, the saint most cheerfully embraced. Amongst others, whilst he was employed at Porto in the foundation of a convent, he heard that the Inquisition had forbidden the reading of some of the little tracts he had written whilst he was Duke of Gandia, upon a groundless suspicion of errors. His silence and modesty on that occasion seemed at first to embolden his adversaries; but these works were at last cleared of all suspicions of error, and the censure taken off. Some raised a clamour against him on account of his former intimacy with the learned Dominican, Bartholomew Caranza, archbishop of Toledo, whom, at the instigation of King Philip II., the Inquisition in Spain cast into prison, upon false surmises; but that prelate was protected by the pope, and at last died at Rome in peace. Many slanders were raised against the Society in Spain, which Melchior Cano, the learned bishop of the Canaries, author of the excellent book, On Theological Commonplaces, suffered himself to be too much carried away by; but the pious Lewis of Granada and our saint, after some time, dispersed them.

  17
  By the extraordinary humility of St. Francis we may form some idea how much he excelled in all other virtues. No one could be a greater lover of holy poverty than our saint. This he showed in all his actions. From the day of his profession he never intermeddled in money concerns, thinking it his happiness that he was never employed as procurator or dispenser in any house of his Order. How sparing he was in fire, paper, and clothes is altogether incredible. One pair of shoes often lasted him two years. The same cassock served him in journeys, and at home, in all seasons; only in travelling he turned the wrong side out, that it might be kept neater, and last better. No one could ever prevail upon him to use boots, or any additional clothing in travelling, in sharp or rainy weather; and he never seemed better pleased than when he came in wet and fatigued to a place where neither fire nor any refreshment was to be had. The Marchioness of Pliego having sent him a present of a pair of warm stockings, they were laid by his bedside in the night, and his old ones taken away, in hopes he would not have perceived the change; but in the morning he was not to be satisfied till the brother had brought him his old darned stockings. The oldest habit and the meanest cell he sought. The Spanish ambassador’s sister at Rome once said to him at table: “Your condition, Francis, is wretched, if, after exchanging your riches for so great poverty, you should not gain heaven in the end.” “I should be miserable, indeed,” said the saint; “but as for the exchange, I have been already a great gainer by it.” A perfect spirit of obedience made him always respect exceedingly all his superiors: the least intimation of their will he received as if it had been a voice from heaven. When letters from St. Ignatius were delivered to him in Spain, he received them on his knees, and prayed, before he opened them, that God would give him grace punctually to obey whatever orders they contained. When he served in the kitchen, he would never stir without the leave of the brother who was the cook; and when for a long time he was ordered to obey a lay-brother, called Mark, in all things that regarded his health and diet, he would neither eat nor drink the least thing without his direction. He used to say, that he hoped the Society would flourish to the divine honour by three things: First, the spirit of prayer, and frequent use of the sacraments; secondly, by the opposition of the world, and by persecutions; thirdly, by the practice of perfect obedience. Penance is the means by which every Christian hopes to attain to salvation. St. Francis usually called it the high road to heaven; and sometimes he said, he trembled lest he should be summoned before the tribunal of Christ, before he had learned to conquer himself. For this grace he prayed daily with many tears. His hair-shirts and disciplines, with the cloths with which he wiped off the blood, he kept under lock and key whilst he was viceroy of Catalonia, and whilst he was general of the Society. Sometimes he put gravel in his shoes when he walked; and daily, by many little artifices, he studied to complete the sacrifice of his penance, and to overcome himself. When the cook had one day by mistake made his broth with wormwood, which he had gathered instead of other herbs, the saint ate it cheerfully without saying a word. Being asked how he liked it, he said: “I never ate anything fitter for me.” When others found out the mistake, and the cook in great confusion asked his pardon: “May God bless and reward you,” said he, “you are the only person amongst all my brethren, who knows what suits me best.” To his daughter, the countess of Lerma, when she complained of pain in a fit of illness, he said: “God sends pain to those who are unwilling to bear it; and refuses it to those who desire to suffer something for the exercise of patience and penance.” Such desires in certain fervent penitents, arising from a great zeal to punish sin in themselves, and subdue sensuality and self-love, ought to confound our sloth, and love of softness and ease; but it is lawful and expedient with humility and charity to avoid pain, if it may please God to remove or mitigate it: though to bear it, when sent by God, with patience and resignation, is a duty and precept; as it also is so far to practise mortification, as to endeavour by it to fulfil our penance, and gain the victory over ourselves. St. Francis once said to his sister, the Poor Clare at Gandia: “It is our duty in a religious state to die to ourselves twenty-four times a day, that we may be able to say with the apostle, I die daily, and be of the number of those of whom he says: You are dead. 7 In sickness he chewed bitter pills, and swallowed the most nauseous potions slowly; and being asked the reason, he said: “This beast (so he often called his body) must suffer to expiate the delight it formerly took in immoderately flattering its palate; and can I forget that Christ drank gall for me on his cross!”

  18
  Much might be said on this saint’s singular prudence, on his candour and simplicity in all his words and actions, and on his tender charity and humanity towards all men. Though all virtues were eminent in him, none appeared more remarkable than his spirit of prayer. Dead to the world and to himself, and deeply penetrated with a sense of his own weakness and spiritual wants on the one hand, and of the divine goodness and love on the other, he raised his pure affections to God with unabated ardour. His prayer, even before he left the world, seemed perpetual; but much more so afterwards. Amidst the greatest hurry of business he kept himself in the actual presence of God, and often in company appeared quite absorbed in him. Five or six hours which he dedicated together to prayer in the morning seemed to him scarcely a quarter of an hour: and, when he came from that heavenly exercise, his countenance seemed to shine with a dazzling light. His preparation for mass often held him some hours; and in his thanksgiving after offering that adorable sacrifice, he sometimes so much forgot himself, being transported in God, that it was necessary to force him from church, almost by violence, to dinner. Such were the devotion and modesty which appeared in his face, that many, whenever they found their souls spiritually dry, were excited to devotion by seeing and conversing a little with him. In order to attain the greatest purity of soul possible, he went twice a-day to confession, with great compunction for the smallest imperfection in his actions, before mass, and again in the evening; a practice not to be advised to those who are in danger of doing it negligently, or without sufficient contrition, and endeavour perfectly to purge their hearts. From the heavenly sweetness which he tasted in the communication of his soul with God, he used to express his astonishment at, and compassion for, the blindness of worldlings, who know not the happiness of a spiritual life, and delight themselves in the brutal gratifications of sense. The news of the sudden death of the saint’s dearest daughter, Isabel of Arragon, Countess of Lerma, a lady of singular piety, and of the greatest endowments, was brought him whilst he was in the streets of Valladolid, going to court. He stopped, shut his eyes, prayed secretly for about the space of four minutes, and then went on. At court he conversed with the princess as usual. In taking leave, he recommended to her prayers the soul of her late servant Isabel. “What,” said the princess, “has a father no more feeling for the death of such a daughter?” “Madam,” he replied, “she was only lent me. The Master has called her hence. Ought I not to thank him for having given her to me so long, and for having now called her to his glory, as I hope in his mercy?” On the same occasion, he said to the constable of Castile: “Since the Lord hath called me to his service, and hath required of me to give him my heart, I have endeavoured to resign it to him so entirely, that no creature, living or dead should ever disturb it.”

  19
  F. Laynez, second general of the Jesuits, dying in 1565, St. Francis, notwithstanding all the precautions he could take to prevent it, was chosen to succeed him, on the 2d of July. He made tender exhortations to the fathers who composed the general assembly of the Society, and kissed the feet of every one amongst them before they departed. His first care in this new charge was to found a house for the novitiate in Rome. He promoted the interest of the Society in all parts of the world with such success, that he might be called a second founder; and the zeal with which he propagated the missions, and instructed and animated the labourers in planting the gospel in the most remote countries of the eastern and western hemisphere, entitles him to a great share in the conversion of those countries to the faith. He was not less active in directing his religious brethren in Europe, and in animating them with the zealous spirit of the institute for the reformation of the manners of Christians. Preaching being the principal means instituted by God for the conversion of souls, this holy instructor of preachers, not content most earnestly to recommend this sacred pastoral function, laid down excellent rules for duly performing the same. 8 In 1566, a pestilence broke out, and made great havoc in Rome; upon which occasion St. Francis procured both from the pope and magistrates plentiful alms for the relief of the poor, and commissioned the fathers of his Order, two and two, to attend the sick in all parts of the city, with imminent danger of their own lives. In 1570, the year before the victory of Lepanto, Pope Pius V. sent St. Francis, with his nephew, the Cardinal Alexandrin, on an embassy into France, Spain, and Portugal, to engage the Christian princes to send succours for the defence of Christendom against the Mahometans. The saint had been for some time in a bad state of health: his infirmities, inclination to retirement, and a deep sense of the weight of his post, which he had filled five years, put him upon a design to procure a discharge from that burden in 1570; but this his brethren would by no means listen to. During this legation his distempers increased upon him, insomuch that when he arrived at Ferrara in his return, the Duke, who was his cousin, sent him from thence to Rome in a litter. During this state of his illness he would admit no visits but from persons whose entertainment turned on spiritual matters, except physicians. The fathers of the Society begged he would name his successor, and allow them the satisfaction of taking his picture; but he would do neither. When he had lost his speech in his agony, a painter was introduced to his bedside. The saint perceiving him, expressed his extreme displeasure with his dying hands and eyes, and turned away his face, so that nothing could be done. F. Condren, the pious general of the French Oratorians, and other holy men, have from a sincere humility shown a like reluctance, whilst others have been inclined by charity to condescend to such requests of friends. St. Francis closed a holy life by a more holy and edifying death, a little before midnight, between the last of September and the 1st of October, in 1572, having lived sixty-two years, wanting twenty-eight days; Cardinal Buoncompagno, under the name of Gregory XIII. being pope, having lately succeeded St. Pius V. who died on the 1st of May the same year. F. Verjus gives a history of several miracles, predictions, and raptures of St. Francis Borgia. 9 His body, which was buried in the old church of the professed house, was afterwards, in 1617, by the care of the cardinal and Duke of Lerma, the saint’s grandson, first minister of state to Philip III. King of Spain, removed to Madrid, where it is honoured at this day in the church of the professed house of the Jesuits. St. Francis was beatified by Urban VIII. in 1624, and canonized by Clement IX. in 1671, and his festival fixed on the 10th of October by Innocent XI. in 1683. 10

  The active and contemplative life in an ecclesiastical person are two individual sisters, which must always go together, and mutually assist each other. Every pastor owes to God the homage of continual praise, and to his people the suffrages of his sacrifices, and supplications in their behalf. How diligently soever he acquits himself of his external duties towards them, he fails essentially if he ceases to recommend earnestly to God their public and private spiritual necessities, being appointed the mediator between them and God. Moreover, recollection and assiduous pious meditation are the very soul of an ecclesiastical spirit. A life of habitual dissipation strikes not at particular duties only, but destroys the very essence and spirit of this state, disqualifies a person for all its functions, and leaves him a stranger to the spirit of all its sacred employments and obligations. The most essential preparation, and the very soul of this state, is a spirit of prayer; without this a person is no more than the shadow of a pastor, or a body without a soul to animate it, and can never deserve the name of a clergyman, or a religious man.
  21


Note 1. Ferdinand V. succeeded Henry king of Castile in 1474, in the right of his wife, Isabel, sister to that king; and, in 1479, upon the death of his father, John II., king of Arragon, inherited that kingdom. In 1492, on the 2d of January, he took Granada, and extinguished the reign of the Moors in Spain, above seven hundred years after they had settled themselves there. In the following March he banished the Jews out of Spain, to the amount of eight hundred thousand souls. In 1496, he was styled by the pope the Catholic king. His eldest surviving daughter, Joanna, married Philip, archduke of Austria, the emperor Maximilian’s son, by whom she had two sons, Charles, born at Ghent, in 1500, and Ferdinand, who were afterwards successively emperors of Germany. Queen Isabel, called also Elizabeth, dying in 1504, Ferdinand, who only reigned in her right, was obliged to leave the crown of Castile to his daughter, Joanna, though she was distracted, and continued generally confined first in Flanders and afterwards in Spain. Her husband Philip I. governed Castile in her right almost two years, till his death, in 1506, the twenty-eighth of his age. Ferdinand, after this became again king or regent of Castile in her name till his death, in 1516, when her son Charles coming out of Flanders into Spain, was acknowledged king of all Spain, though he held Castile only in the name of his distracted mother so long as she lived.

  Charles the Fifth of Germany, and the First of Spain, upon the death of his grandfather Maximilian, was chosen emperor in 1519, and in 1520, going into Germany, resigned Austria to his brother Ferdinand. In 1525, Francis I. was made prisoner by him in the battle of Pavia. Muleassi, Dey of Tunis, having implored his protection against Barbarossa, the most formidable Turkish pirate, who had made himself Dey of Algiers, he was restored by him. The emperor also obliged Soliman to raise the siege of Vienna. In 1555, he resigned his kingdoms to his son Philip, and in the following year, the empire to his brother Ferdinand, and died in 1558. He married Isabel, daughter to Emanuel, king of Portugal. His daughters Mary, Joanna, and Margaret, were married, the first to the Emperor Maximilian II., son of Ferdinand; the second to John, prince of Portugal; the third to Alexander de Medicis, duke of Florence, and afterwards to Octavius Farnesius, prince of Parma. Don John of Austria, the illegitimate son of Charles V. is famous for the victory of Lepanto, gained over the Turks in 1571, and an expedition which he commanded against Tunis in 1573. He died governor of the Low Countries. Charles V. was the most powerful prince in Europe since Charlemagne; being emperor of Germany, king of Spain, Hungary, and Bohemia, possessing also the duchy of Milan, with other territories in Italy, and the duchy of Burgundy, with the Low Countries. The actions of this emperor are extremely blackened by many French historians, and as highly extolled by the Germans and Spaniards. If he was not perfectly so good a man as the latter would make us believe, neither was he so bad as many of the French writers endeavour to persuade us, and we ought to hope that the faults he committed were cancelled by sincere repentance. Philip II., king of Spain, reigned forty-two years, and died at the Escurial in 1598. Being four times married, he had, by his first wife, (who was Mary, daughter of John IV., king of Portugal,) Don Carlos, who was put to death by his order; by his second, Mary of England, he had no issue; by the third, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry II. of France, he had Isabel, whom he gave in marriage to Albert, the archduke, son to the Emperor Maximilian II. Albert was made cardinal very young; but his brother the archduke Ernestus, governor of Flanders, dying in 1595, he, two years after, resigned his ecclesiastical dignities, and married the infanta of Spain, the Low Countries being settled on them, with the joint title of princes of Belgium. 
[back]

Note 2. See De Lugo in Decal. [back]

Note 3. In the first, called An Exercise on the Knowledge of Ourselves, heads of considerations on the knowledge of ourselves are laid down for an exercise of seven days. The author prescribes that on each day some suitable sentence of scripture be often repeated in the mind to renew and imprint deeper the sentiments of devotion and humility. “As he who goes to the fire grows warm, so,” says the saint, “he who by prayer and pious affections, applies his heart continually to the flame of divine love, will feel it kindled in him. Go then, devout soul; stir up thy affections, and raise them to God; thou art invited to that happy employment which is the uninterrupted function of the holy seraphim, that is, to love without intermission.” He will have every meditation begun by the most sincere inward confession of our own insufficiency as to all manner of good, and an earnest supplication for the divine grace. For the heads of meditation on Monday, he proposes, that we are originally nothing; have received from God a noble being; but by sin are fallen from our dignity; he stamped upon us his own image, but this we have disfigured; he further desires to bestow himself upon us; yet we fly from him, &c. On Tuesday, he suggests our weakness and universal poverty. On Wednesday, how we have abused and depraved all our faculties, blinded our understanding, depraved our will, &c. On Thursday, how we have defiled and perverted all our senses. On Friday, how ungrateful we have been to all God’s mercies and graces, especially that of our redemption. On Saturday, how often we have deserved to be abandoned by God, and plunged into hell. On Sunday, on God’s benefits, and our base return. He begins every consideration with what God is to us; then proceeds to what we have been towards God, that the two-fold knowledge of God and ourselves may be improved, and keep pace with one another. In every meditation he proposes some circumstance of the Incarnation. In the saint’s second treatise of humility, entitled, A Spiritual Collyrium, (or cure for the eyes,) he teaches how we are to cure the spiritual blindness of pride, by learning sincerely to confound and contemn ourselves from the sight or consideration of all things under the earth, upon the earth, and in the heavens, that the soul may remain always humble, and may always please God. If we think on hell, we must remember the devil is damned for one sin; we have committed many; yet the divine mercy bears us, and we are still ungrateful. If upon purgatory, perhaps some suffer there through our scandalous example or neglect, &c.

  In the second part he runs through the elements, all conditions of men, their actions, the powers of the soul, &c. showing how we ought to draw confusion from each object or circumstance; as that the earth is fruitful, we barren; flowers are fragrant to us, we full of stench in the divine eyes; water feeds the earth, and assuages our thirst, we give not alms to the poor, that is, refuse to give God his own gifts; servants obey us, yet we disobey God; infidels are a reproach to us as Tyre and Sidon were to the Jews; the poor put us in mind of our hardness of heart, and of our spiritual indigence, &c.

  In the third part he suggests like motives of confusion within ourselves from all things in the heavens, the stars, planets, angels, God, &c. The saint addressed to his devout aunt, who was a Poor Clare at Gandia, a tract, entitled, The Mirror of the Christian’s Actions, teaching us to begin all our principal actions by raising our minds to God with acts, firstly, of sincere humiliation and confusion; secondly, of thanksgiving; and, thirdly, of petition and oblation; of all which he proposes several forms or models. Sitting down to table, reflect, says he, that you eat His bread to whom you have been so often unfaithful and ungrateful: thank him, that he has always nourished you, even when his enemy; beg that he who fed the multitudes in the desert, feed your soul with his grace; offer to him your health, life, and all you are to do, imploring his blessing; and so in other actions. He proposes also a method of uniting our intention and actions with those of our Redeemer on earth, especially in his Passion. A Paraphrase which he wrote on the canticle of the Three Children, is a proof with what ardour he began to exercise himself in acts of divine love, thanksgiving, and praise. “If thou art not able, O my soul, sufficiently to praise the Lord for any one of the least among his mercies and favours,” says he in the beginning of this work, “how wilt thou be able to glorify and thank him for all his numberless and infinite benefits?” &c. Another production of this saint’s pen was a discourse on Christ weeping out of tender love and compassion over Jerusalem, (Luke
xix.) that is, over the spiritual miseries of a soul which is herself insensible to them. His Preparation for the Holy Eucharist contains short heads of devotion for three days before, and three days after communion; the first consisting in earnest desires of that divine food, with tears of compunction, to cleanse perfectly his soul, and prayer to beg Christ will discover to him what spiritual ornaments are wanting to his soul, and will enrich her with them all, that she may deserve to receive him to her salvation. The exercises after communion are a continuation of thanksgiving, love, praise, and supplications during three days. This exercise he planned for his own use whilst he communicated once a week. These six treatises he composed in Spanish whilst he was duke of Gandia, and remained in the world. The general abstract here given of them may serve to show by what means he endeavoured to ground himself in the most perfect humility, compunction, self-denial, and practice of prayer, with the frequent and devout use of the sacraments, upon which his advancement in Christian perfection mainly depended. [back]

Note 4. Hist. de Charles V. Also Bellegarde, Cant. de Mariana Hist. d’Espagne, t. 7. [back]

Note 5. Thuanus, Hist. l. 21, n. 10, t. 1, p. 723. [back]

Note 6. Surius in Comment. Hist. sui Temporis; and Groves’s life of Card. Wolsey, t. 4, App. p. 50. [back]


Note 8. S. Fr. Borgia, l. de Ratione Concionandi. [back]

Note 9. L. 3, &c. [back]

Note 10. Four treatises of St. Francis Borgia were translated into French, and printed at Paris in 1672, viz. his Letter to his aunt, abbess of the Poor Clares at Gandia, containing a mirror of a Christian’s actions, or the manner of performing them in the spirit of Christ. 2. Remedies against pride, or considerations and means for learning all humiliation and contempt of ourselves. 3. Exercises for holy communion. 4. An exercise for learning the knowledge of ourselves, in seven meditations for every day in the week. In Latin we have his excellent treatise on the method of preaching; often reprinted, his paraphrase on the Hymn of the three children Benedicite in thanksgiving; his sermon on Christ weeping over Jerusalem.

  We have been promised an edition of his other works which remain in MS. viz. His Instructions to his son the duke of Gandia. 2. Excellent Homilies on the lamentations of Jeremie. 3. Some Sermons. 4. Meditations on the life of Jesus Christ. 5. Spiritual letters. 6. His funeral discourse on Charles V. before the court at Valladolid. 
[back]


Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.