Regis, John Francis, St.
REGIS, JOHN FRANCIS, ST.
Missionary to the French Huguenots; b. Fontconverte, Diocese of Narbonne, southeastern France, Jan. 31, 1597; d. La Louvesc (Ardèche), Dec. 31, 1640. Under the care of his devout parents, Jean, a successful merchant, and Marguerite de Cugunhan, he developed an interest in study and prayer. At 14 he began formal studies at the Jesuit college at Béziers, and, on Dec. 8, 1616, he entered the Society of Jesus; he was ordained at Toulouse in 1631. A tireless missionary, he devoted the ten remaining years of his life to the conversion of the Huguenots, visiting hospitals and prisons, reviving the faith of lax Catholics, assisting the needy, bringing the hope of Christ to wayward women, and preaching to children and the poor. His influence reached all classes and brought about a lasting spiritual revival throughout France. Among the cities and mountain towns that felt his zeal were Montpellier, Le Cheylard, Privas, the Doux valley, Fay-le-Froid, Montregard, Montfaucon, and Le Puy. The numerous miraculous cures effected during his lifetime continued after his death, whereupon he was immediately venerated as a saint by thousands who sought his intercession. John Baptist vianney, Curé d'Ars, ascribed his vocation and his accomplishments to Regis.
In 1712 a Jansenist priest, L. Maille, circulated a report that John Francis Regis had been dismissed from the Society of Jesus just before his death. A commission, appointed by Clement XI, examined the official records and declared the story pure invention. Regis was proclaimed blessed by Clement XI on May 18, 1716, and declared a saint by Clement XII on April 5, 1737. The church of La Louvesc, where his body is entombed, received the title and privileges of a basilica in 1888. Here in 1830, Jean Pierre Étienne Terme (d. 1834), priest of the Diocese of Viviers, and Marie Victoire Thérèse couderc instituted a group of women into the Sisters of St. Francis Regis, known today as the Religious of the cenacle.
Feast: June 16; July 2 (Jesuits).
Bibliography: f. de curley, Saint Jean-François Régis (Paris 1893). l j. m. cros, Saint Jean-François Régis (Paris 1894). l. pize, La Perpétuelle mission de Saint François Régis (Paris 1923). j. vianey, Saint François Régis (Paris 1914). g. guitton,… Saint Jean François Régis (Paris 1937). a. s. foley, St. Regis, a Social Crusader (Milwaukee 1941; Mobile, Ala. 1961). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4v. (New York 1956) 2:558–61. j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998), 458–60.
[j. g. bischoff]