Saturday, October 10, 2015
ST FRANCIS BORGIA - FEASTDAY 10TH OCTOBER
St Francis Borgia – Patron against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota, Marianas.
Francis was a young nobleman at the court of the King of Spain. He became a Duke when he was only thirty-three and lived a happy, peaceful life with his wife Eleanor and their eight children. Francis was a perfect Christian gentleman, a true man of God and his great joy was to receive Holy Communion often. This happy life ended when his beloved wife died. Francis did something that astonished all the nobles of Spain; he gave up his Dukedom to his son Charles and became a Jesuit priest. So many people came to his first Mass that they had to set up an altar outdoors, but his Superior tested him by treating him in exactly the opposite way he had been used to all his forty-one years of life. He who had once been a Duke had to help the cook, carrying wood for the fire and sweeping the kitchen. When he served food to the priests and brothers, he had to kneel down in front of them all and beg them to forgive him for being so clumsy! Still he never once complained or grumbled.
St. Francis Borgia, a bright example of virtue, both for ecclesiastics and laymen, was born in 1510, at Gandia, in Spain. His father was John Borgia, the third Duke of Gandia; and his mother, Joanna of Aragon, grand-daughter to Ferdinand the Catholic. Francis, when only a child, was already remarkable for his virtue and piety. When scarcely seventeen years, old he came to the Court of the Emperor Charles V., where, notwithstanding the many and great dangers to which he was exposed, he preserved his innocence by frequently partaking of the Blessed Sacrament, by great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and the practice of mortification. His talents and his edifying life gained him the esteem of the Emperor; hence the Empress gave him in marriage a very virtuous lady, who was a great favorite of hers.
Francis was then made chief equerry to the Emperor, and created Marquis of Lombay. The court which Francis kept after he was married might have served as a model to all Christian princes. He distributed the hours of the day, so that certain times were devoted to prayer, to business, and to recreation. He, at the same time, began the praiseworthy practice of selecting every month a Saint for especial veneration. He was much opposed to gaming, and did not allow his servants to indulge in it. He used to say: “Gaming is accompanied by great losses; loss of money, loss of time, loss of devotion, and loss of conscience.” The same aversion he had for the reading of frivolous books, even if they were not immoral. He found his greatest delight in reading devout books, and said: “The reading of devout books is the first step towards a better life."
At the period in which he lived the principal enjoyments of the higher classes were music and hawking; and, as he could not abstain from them entirely, he took care, at such times, to raise his thoughts to the Almighty, and to mortify himself. Thus, when he went hawking, he closed his eyes at the very moment when the hawk swooped; the sight of which, they say, was the chief pleasure of this kind of hunting. The Almighty, to draw His servant entirely away from the world, sent him several severe maladies, which made him recognize the instability of all that is earthly. He became more fully aware of this after the death of the Empress, whose wondrous beauty was everywhere extolled.
By the order of the Emperor, it became the duty of Francis to escort the remains to the royal vault at Granada. There the coffin was opened before the burial took place, and the sight that greeted the beholders was most awful. Nothing was left of the beautiful Empress but a corpse, so disfigured, that all averted their eyes, whilst the odor it exhaled was so offensive that most of the spectators were driven away.