Borgia, Francis, St.
BORGIA, FRANCIS, ST.
Third general of the Society of Jesus; b. Gandía, Spain, Oct. 28, 1510; d. Rome, Sept. 30, 1572. He was the first son of Juan Borja, third duke of Gandía, and of Joanna of Aragón. At the age of ten, after the death of his mother, he was sent to Zaragoza, where his uncle Juan of Aragón was archbishop. Later he went to Tordesillas as page to the sister of Emperor Charles V, Princess Catherine, who in 1525 became the wife of John III of Portugal. In 1528 Francis was in the service of the emperor at the Court of Spain. In the next year he married Leonor de Castro, and they had eight sons. On July 7, 1530, his barony of Lombay was raised to the category of marquisate by Charles, and he was nominated first hunter of the court and head of the stables of the Empress Isabella. His wife became her lady-in-waiting. Deeply moved by the death of the empress on May 1, 1539, he accompanied her remains to Granada and assisted at the ceremonies of identification and burial on May 17. On June 26 of that year, Francis was named viceroy of Catalonia, an office that he kept until 1543. After his father's death on Dec. 17, 1542, he went to Gandía to claim his inheritance and his rights as successor in the dukedom. In Barcelona he had met the Jesuits Antonio de Araoz and (Bl.) Peter faber (Lefèvre), and he determined to build them a college in Gandía. Faber laid the cornerstone of this first college of the society on May 4, 1546. Pope Paul III elevated it to the rank of university on Nov. 4, 1547.
In 1546, after the sudden death of Doña Leonor, Francis took his first vows in the society; he made his solemn profession on Feb. 1, 1548. He kept this a secret and continued to wear secular clothes in order to administer his estates and settle his children. He also studied theology at his new university, receiving a doctorate on Aug. 20, 1550. On the 26th of the same month, Francis started a pilgrimage to Rome, ostensibly to gain the Jubilee indulgences of the Holy Year, but mainly to arrange with (St.) Ignatius of Loyola for his official entrance into the society. He remained in Rome until Feb. 4, 1551, and on May 23, he was ordained in Oñate, celebrating his first Mass at Loyola on August 1. Following his ordination, he preached and taught catechism to children throughout Guipúzcoa and practiced severe austerities until curbed by his superiors. On April 1, 1554, he became commissary general of the society in Spain, and in the following year he went to Tordesillas to assist Queen Joanna in her last illness. Charles V, who in 1556 abdicated and retired to Yuste, often relied on Borgia for advice and made him and Philip II the executors of his will. In 1559 a book entitled Las Obras del Duque de Gandía was placed on the list of forbidden books for Spain. It included some treatises of his but also writings not of his authorship. In order to avoid further embarrassment, Borgia retired to Portugal until called to Rome by Pope Pius IV in 1561. There he was received kindly and three years later was appointed assistant general for Spain and Portugal.
In 1565, after the death of the General Diego Laínez on January 19, Francis was nominated vicar-general, and on July 2 of that year he was elected general of the society. His seven years in office were noted for activity and the expansion of the Society of Jesus. He started new missions in the Americas, strengthened the organization of those already existing in the East Indies and Far East, and furthered the training of priests at the German College in Rome for the lands lost to Protestantism. He established new colleges in France, erected the province of Poland, and planned others. The Roman College continued to receive his special interest, and the Gesù, the church of Sant' Andrea, and a novitiate were erected. He is noted, too, for his interior mystical life, which seems to have thrived in the surroundings of business. He was beatified on Nov. 24, 1624, by Urban VIII and canonized on April 12, 1671, by Clement X.
Feast: Oct. 10 (general), Oct. 3 (Jesuits).
Bibliography: His writings are ed. by c. de dalmases and j. f. gilmont, Archivum historicum Societatis Jesu 30 (1961) 125–179; Evangelio meditado, ed. f. cervÓs (Madrid 1912); Meditaciones sobre los evangelios para las fiestas de los santos, ed. j. m. march (Barcelona 1925); Monamenta Borgiae, 5 v. (Monumenta historica Societatis Jesus, Madrid 1894–1911); Tratados espirituales, ed. c. de dalmases (Barcelona 1964). Literature. a. cienfuegos, La heroyca vida, virtudes, y milagros del grande S. Francisco de Borja, antes duque quarto de Gandia, y despues tercero general de la Compañia de Jesus (Barcelona 1754). c. de dalmases, Francis Borgia: Grandee of Spain, Jesuit, Saint, tr. c.m. buckley (St. Louis 1991). f. w. rolfe, A History of the Borgias (Westport, Conn. 1975). p. suau, St. François de Borgia 1510–1572 (Paris 1905). o. karrer, Der Heilige Franz von Borga 1510–1572 (Freiburg 1921). h. dennis, St. Francis Borgia (Madrid 1956). c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus (Brussels-Paris 1890–1932) 1:1808–17, 8:1875–76.
[c. de dalmases]