Francis Borgia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Francis Borgia

San Francisco de Borja.jpg
Painting by Alonso Cano, 1624
Duke of Gandía
Born28 October 1510
Duchy of Gandía, Kingdom of Valencia, Spain
Died30 September 1572 (aged 61)
Rome, Papal States
Venerated inCatholic Church
Beatified23 November 1624, Madrid, Kingdom of Spain by Pope Urban VIII
Canonized20 June 1670, Rome by Pope Clement X
Major shrineRelics translated to the Jesuit church in Madrid, 1901
Feast30 September
10 October (1688–1969)
3 October (Jesuits) [1]
AttributesSkull crowned with an emperor's diadem
PatronageAgainst earthquakes; Portugal; Gandía; Rota, Marianas

Francis Borgia, 4th Duke of Gandía, SJ (Valencian: Francesc de Borja; Spanish: Francisco de Borja; 28 October 1510 – 30 September 1572), venerated as Saint Francis Borgia, was a Spanish Jesuit priest. The great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI, he was a grandee of Spain and served as the third superior general of the Society of Jesus. He was canonized on 20 June 1670 by Pope Clement X.

Early life[edit]

He was born in the Duchy of Gandía in the Kingdom of Valencia (part of Aragon), on 28 October 1510. His father was Juan Borgia, 3rd Duke of Gandía, the son of Giovanni Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia). His mother was Juana, daughter of Alonso de Aragón, Archbishop of Zaragoza, who, in turn, was the illegitimate son of King Ferdinand II of Aragon.[2] His brother, Tomás de Borja y Castro, also entered the Church, becoming Bishop of Málaga, and later Archbishop of Zaragoza.

As a child he was very pious and wished to become a monk, but his family sent him instead to serve in the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (who was also King Charles I of Spain), where he was welcomed as a kinsman.[2] He excelled there, accompanying the Emperor on several campaigns.

Adult life and career[edit]

In Madrid in the month of September 1529, he married a Portuguese noblewoman, Leonor de Castro Mello y Meneses. They had eight children: Carlos in 1530, Isabel in 1532, Juan in 1533, Álvaro circa 1535, Juana also circa 1535, Fernando in 1537, Dorotea in 1538, and Alfonso in 1539. Charles V appointed him Marquess of Lombay, master of the hounds, and equerry to the empress.[2]

In 1539, he convoyed the corpse of Isabella of Portugal, Philip II of Spain's mother, to her burial place in Granada. In that same year (1539), he became Viceroy of Catalonia, replacing Fadrique de Portugal y Noroña, though he was only 29.

In these earlier years of his life he enjoyed composing musical ecclesiastical pieces. In these pieces he displayed a remarkable contrapuntal style, justifying the assertion that, "In the sixteenth century and prior to Palestrina, Borgia was one of the chief restorers of sacred music."[2]

In 1543 upon the death of his father, the 3rd Duke, Francis became the 4th Duke of Gandía.[3] His diplomatic abilities came into question after his failed attempt at arranging a marriage between Prince Philip of Spain and the Princess of Portugal, thus ending a hope of bringing these two countries together, and resulting in his retirement as duke, handing his title to his son, Carlos.[4] By then 33 years old, he had retired to his native place and devoted himself to religious activities.

Jesuit priest[edit]

Francis Borgia at Isabella of Portugal's coffin by Pietro della Vecchia

In 1546 his wife Eleanor died, and Francis then decided to enter the newly formed Society of Jesus, after making adequate provisions for his children. He put his affairs in order circa 1551, renounced his titles in favour of his eldest son Carlos de Borja-Aragon y de Castro-Melo, and became a Jesuit priest. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome.[5] Upon Francis’ return from a journey to Peru, Pope Julius III made known his intention to make him a cardinal.[4] To prevent this, Borgia decided, in agreement with St. Ignatius, to leave the city secretly and go to the Basque Country, where it was thought he would be safe from the papal desires.[6] He felt incompletion to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. In time his friends persuaded him to accept the leadership role that nature and circumstances had destined him for: in 1554, he became the Jesuit commissary-general in Spain,[7] where he founded a dozen colleges.[5] After only two years, St. Francis was crowned for missions in the East and West Indies.[4] In 1565, he was elected the third "Father General" or Superior General of the Society of Jesus, after the death in January 1565 of Diego Laynez, (Almazán, Spain, 1512 – January 1565).

His successes during the period 1565–1572 made historians to describe Francis as the greatest General after Saint Ignatius. He founded the Collegium Romanum, which was to become the Gregorian University, advised kings and popes, and closely supervised all the affairs of the mushrooming order. Yet, despite being the supreme, Francis led a humble life and was acclaimed in his own lifetime as a saint.

Francis Borgia died in 1572.[5]

Death and legacy[edit]

Saint Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent, painted by Francisco Goya

Francis Borgia died on 30 September 1572, in Rome. His mortal remains were repatriated to Spain in 1617 and kept from 1627 at the Jesuit professed house in Madrid that was newly built for that purpose north of Plaza Mayor on a donation from Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, 1st Duke of Lerma.[8][9] On 30 July 1901, the silver urn contained the relics was transferred to the church of the Sacred Church and San Francis Borgia on calle de la Flor Baja, part of a new Jesuit residence (later professed house from 1911) established thanks to a donation from Manuel Álvarez de Toledo [es].[10] After that church was destroyed by arson in 1931, some of his ashes were recovered and eventually reinterred in the new Jesuit complex on calle de Serrano.[11]

Francis Borgia was beatified in Madrid on 23 November 1624, by Pope Urban VIII. He was canonized nearly 35 years later on 20 June 1670,[7] by Pope Clement X. His liturgical feast was inserted into the General Roman Calendar in 1688 for celebration on 10 October,[12] the date then free from other celebrations that was closest to that of his death.

Parishes are dedicated to St. Francis Borgia in Chicago, Illinois,[13] Sturgis, Kentucky,[14] Washington, Missouri,[15] Blair, Nebraska,[16] and Cedarburg, Wisconsin.[17] Also in the village of Isio in the town of Cauayan, Negros Occidental, Philippines. The Jesuit-founded city of São Borja, in southern Brazil, is named after him.

St. Francis Borgia Regional High School is located in Washington, Missouri.[18]




Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Motet pour St François de Borgia, H.354, for 1 voice, 2 treble instruments, and continuo (? late 1680s)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " Saint Francis Borgia". Retrieved October 2, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Francis Borgia". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  3. ^ "Saint Francis Borgia | Jesuit superior general". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  4. ^ a b c "Patron Saint | St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  5. ^ a b c Foley O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.) Franciscan Media ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
  6. ^ "Francis Borgia, SJ". Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  7. ^ a b "Our Parish Patron Saint - St. Francis Borgia", St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church, Chicago, Illinois Archived 2013-04-13 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Pierre Suau (1909), "St. Francis Borgia", Catholic Encyclopedia
  9. ^ Martín Corral Estrada (14 May 2019). "La primera Casa Profesa de Madrid". Jesuitas Madrid.
  10. ^ Martín Corral Estrada (17 June 2019). "La segunda Casa Profesa de Madrid". Jesuitas Madrid.
  11. ^ José Francisco Serrano Oceja (30 December 2017). "San Francisco de Borja: una parroquia con vocación universal". ABC Madrid.
  12. ^ Online, Catholic. "St. Francis Borgia - Saints & Angels - Catholic Online". Catholic Online. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  13. ^ "Saint Francis Borgia Catholic Church". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  14. ^ "St. Francis Borgia". St. Francis Borgia. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  15. ^ "Saint Francis Borgia". Saint Francis Borgia. Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  16. ^ "St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church | Blair, NE". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  17. ^ "St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  18. ^ "St. Francis Borgia Regional High School | Catholic College Preparatory High School in Washington, MO". Retrieved 2017-07-15.
  19. ^ "Baltasar de Borja y Velasco". Real Academia de la Historia. Retrieved 2019-03-30.


  • Candido de Dalmases, Francis Borgia. Grandee of Spain, Jesuit, Saint, Saint-Louis, 1991
  • Candido de Dalmases, El Padre Francisco de Borja, Madrid, 1983.24 pages. Madrid: Editorial Católica, (1983). ISBN, 8422011166, ISBN 978-84-220-1116-3
  • Margaret Yeo, The greatest of the Borgias, New York, 1936, 374 pages
  • Enrique García Hernán, Sanctus Franciscus Borgia: Quartus Gandiae Dux et Societatis Iesu Praepositus Generalis Tertius, 1510-1572 , Volumen 156, Monumenta Borgia Series Volumes 156–157, Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu (1903) (new edition by Edit. Generalitat Valeciana, 2003)
  • Enrique García Hernán, Francisco de Borja, Grande de España, 1999 reprint by Institució Alfons el Magnànim, (Diputació de Valência), of the 1903 edition, 292 pages, ISBN 84-7822-275-8
  • Francisco de Borja, Santo y Duque de Gandia (1510-2010) by several authors in several subjects, Bromera edit., 2010, ISBN 978-84-9824-634-6
  • Angel Santos Hernandez, Jesuitas y Obispados: la Compañia de Jesús y las dignidades eclesiasticas,(1999), 539 pages,in Spanish, Universidad Pontificia de Comillas edit. ISBN 978-84-89708-48-8, a Google book to be found under:
  • María Rosa Urraca Pastor, San Francisco de Borja, Barcelona 1943

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Superior General of the Society of Jesus
Succeeded by