Saint Francis Borgia (1510-1572), the “Second Founder of the Society of Jesus” (the Jesuits). A man of great wealth, privilege, and nobility, Saint Francis felt called to give up his earthly power to serve the Divine Master. His sacrifice and humility, as well as his far-reaching vision and steadfast endurance as a soldier of the Lord continue to inspire us today.
Francis Borgia, named for Saint Francis of Assisi, was born in Valencia, Spain, the product of royal lineage. The oldest son of the third duke of Gandía, Francis’ great grandfather on his father's side was Pope Alexander VI, and his mother's grandfather was King Ferdinand the Catholic. His mother died when he was 10 years old, and from that time on, as was the custom of the times, he was placed under the tutelage of his uncle, the Archbishop of Saragossa.
Saint Ignatius advised him to ask the Emperor’s permission. Since Charles V was in the Netherlands, Francis addressed a letter to him there. The Emperor replied with these words:
“I am very sorry to lose the company of a man of your merit, a shining light of counsel, a model in the exercise of the highest offices of State, and, because of your virtue and piety, a factor of edification for all my court. But I recognize that it would be unreasonable to dispute over you with the Master you have chosen to serve. It is, therefore, with sorrow that I grant you the permission you are requesting. I authorize you to renounce your fiefs and titles in favor of your firstborn son.
The number of those who will envy you will be greater than those who will imitate you, since it is easy to admire beautiful examples, but difficult to follow them. I recommend myself to your prayers and I count upon you to attract divine blessings over me, my States, and all Christendom.”
"I am afraid, my lord, that I have to hurt your grace." The saint answered that he would not hurt him more than he was right then by calling him "my lord" and "your grace."
Saint Ignatius of Loyola made him his Vicar General for Spain, Portugal, and the East Indies, and there was scarcely a city of Spain and Portugal where he did not establish colleges or houses of the Company of Jesus. At the death of Saint Ignatius two years later, the Order chose him to be its General. From that moment on, he never stopped traveling, visiting the houses and chapters throughout the world, and expanding the Order. Concerned that Jesuits were in danger of getting too involved in their work at the expense of their spiritual growth, he introduced their daily hour-long meditation. He established disciplined novitiates in every Jesuit province, writing regulations and books of spiritual instruction for them. His changes and revitalization of the Society led to him being sometimes called the “Second Founder of the Society of Jesus.”
“We must perform all our works in God and refer them to his glory so that they will be permanent and stable. Everyone—whether kings, nobles, tradesmen or peasants—must do all things for the glory of God and under the inspiration of Christ’s example. . . . When you pray, hear Mass, sit at table, engage in business and when at bedtime you remove your clothes—at all times crave that by the pain which he felt when he was stripped just before his crucifixion, he may strip us of our evil habits of mind. Thus, naked of earthly things, we may also embrace the cross.
Wherever our brethren may be, let their first care be for those already converted. Their first aim must be to strengthen these in the faith and to help them save their souls. After this they may convert others not yet baptized. But let them proceed prudently and not undertake more than they can carry through. It is not desirable for them to hurry here and there to convert heathen with whom they cannot afterwards keep in touch. It is better to advance step by step and consolidate conquests already made. . . . They are not to risk their lives unnecessarily in excursions among unconquered people. The swift loss of life in God’s service may be advantageous for them. However, it is not for the greater good of the many for there are only a few laborers for the vineyard and it is difficult to replace them.”
In 1571 the pope sent Francis to Spain and Portugal to help build an alliance against the Turks. He grew increasingly ill on this embassy and died after returning to Rome in 1572. The silver shrine containing the remains of his remains, after various vicissitudes, was translated, in 1901, to the church of the Society at Madrid, where it is honored at the present time.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
Whatever I have or hold, you have given me.
I return it all to you and surrender it wholly
to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
Day 283 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Hearts of Charity; Lives of Repentance and Reformation.
Requested Intentions: Successful outcome of court case and employment (L); For guidance and righteous love (K); Restoration of a relationship (H); For successful employment (I); For a daughter’s successful relationship (M); For a relationship sanctified by God (M); For health of father; For canonization of Pope John Paul II (A); For the conversion of a family (L); For the ill (A); For the health of a family (I); For a father’s successful surgery and recovery (G); For those who are ill, and their caretakers (D); For the safety of a sister who is traveling (A); Recovery of mother with cancer (R); Successful acquisition of a visa (T); Restoration of a marriage (A); For employment and health of mother (G); Successful employment (M); Restoration of a family, End to brother's addiction, Successful marriage (R); Employment (I); Successful recovery of a mother; for all stroke victims (D); Successful return to the faith (A); Emotional, physical, and financial healing (D); Diagnosis and recovery (A); For a successful relationship (J); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."