St. Francis Borgia

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By Catholic Digest Staff

St. Francis Borgia

Feast Day: October 10


On his deathbed, the final two lines written in Francis’ diary were, “I desire to shed my blood for the love of Jesus, whenever it may be in his service.” With this enduring proclamation of his faith, the life but not the legacy of Francis Borgia was complete. He died in Rome, on September 30, 1572 a man who some would say gave up everything to follow the Lord. Originally summoned to serve in the imperial court when he was 18, everyone had great aspirations for the young, wealthy, and highly educated nobleman who hailed from an illustrious pedigree. The great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI and King Ferdinand of Aragon, Francis Borgia was the eldest son of the Duke of Gandia and cousin to Emperor Charles V. There seemed no limit to the prestige and power such a promising noble could attain. However, God had other plans. Despite the heavy burden of his complex responsibilities, Francis began to withdraw from courtly life and focus on prayer and his family. He used his highly respected position to begin rooting out corruption in every level of society, and introduce social reforms. These changes in the status quo were not welcomed, and he retreated further from the spotlight that was rightly his, preferring to dote on his family, care for his large circle of friends, and reflect on spirituality. When his beloved wife passed away he settled his estate, renounced his worldly possessions, and met with St. Ignatius of Loyola to begin his life in a new order, the Jesuits. He would go on to help found Gregorian University, became a famous spiritual councilor, care for the impoverished sick during a plague outbreak, aid St. Teresa of Avila and travel for the pope until his final days. In the end, he did die a wealthy and popular public figure, spiritually rich and beloved by the poor.

Catholic Digest Staff