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The Catholic Defender: Saint Francis Borgia


Francis Borgia established a book of rules for the Jesuit order that ensured spiritual and intellectual formation, and an apostolic character. He even was instrumental in the re-establishment of sacred music. Popes wanted to make him a Cardinal but his humility would not allow him to accept such a position.


He died on September 30, 1572, and 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. Saint Francis Borgia is the Patron Saint of earthquakes.


After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned for ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison — awaiting his father's payment — and, according to legend, began receiving visions from God.



Today’s saint grew up in an important family in 16th-century Spain, serving in the imperial court and quickly advancing in his career. But a series of events—including the death of his beloved wife—made Francis Borgia rethink his priorities. He gave up public life, gave away his possessions, and joined the new and little-known Society of Jesus.


Religious life proved to be the right choice. Francis felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Not long after his ordination, he served as political and spiritual adviser to the emperor. In Spain, he founded a dozen colleges.


At 55, Francis was elected head of the Jesuits. He focused on the growth of the Society of Jesus, the spiritual preparation of its new members, and spreading the faith in many parts of Europe. He was responsible for the founding of Jesuit missions in Florida, Mexico, and Peru.


Francis Borgia is often regarded as the second founder of the Jesuits. He died in 1572 and was canonized 100 years later.


Sometimes the Lord reveals his will for us in stages. Many people hear a call in later life to serve in a different capacity. We never know what the Lord has in store for us.

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