Francis Borgia was born on October 28, 1510 into the noble family of Borgia in Spain. His ancestors included royalty and princes of the the church. Hew was the great grandson of Pope Alexander VI and King Ferdinand of Aragon; nephew of an archbishop., Francis was heir to the Dukedom of Gandia. By the age of 17 he was part of the court of Charle3s V ad by 19 he was married to Eleanor de Castro and was named Marquess of Lombay. He was charming, gallant and talented in music. Francis became one of the chief restorers of sacred music in the 16th century. By 1539 he had eight children. In 1543 after his father's death, Francis became Duke of Gandia and was on the way to grander positions in the Spanish court when he fell in disfavor with the sovereigns of Portugal whose princess had married the the Prince of Spain. During the following years, Francis Borgia reorganized his duchy and striving to attain a higher level of virtue, founded a university and took the degree of Doctor of Theology.
After the death of his wife in 1546, Duke Francis invited the Jesuits to Gandia. His work with them inspired him to join the Jesuits. by 1550 he left his grand estate to follow St. Ignatius who was edified by the humility of one who had been part of the powerful, royal Borgias.
Francis Borgia was ordained priest on May 25, 1551 and began his inspiring preaching. His piety and humility was widely admired. The court of Portugal venerated him as a messenger from God and he won the favor of several Popes. By 1554 , Francis was named commissary-general of the Jesuits of Spain and later was entrusted with the work of the missions of the Society. He founded the missions of Florida, New Spain and Peru. His leadership and piety inspired many noblemen to join the Jesuits.
In 1561 Francis Borgia went to Rome and befriended cardinals including the future Pope Pius V and St. Charles Beromeo. In 1565 he was elected general of the Society of Jesus. He preached less often but his writings were inspirational. He wrote the rules of Society of Jesus which were to be followed by members of the order. His leadership of the Jesuits was filled with faith and action. He founded several colleges in France and was instrumental in foundations in Flanders, Bohemia, Tyrol, Germany and Poland.
The process for his canonization began in 1607 and on June 20, 1670, he became St. Francis Borgia. We celebrate his feast day on October 10.
St. Francis Borgia, Pray for us.