St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Saint Francis Borgia
(Regional Memorial)
October 10

Aldericus (Aldric, Audry) of Sens, OSB B (AC)
Born in the Gatinais, 790; died 841. Saint Aldericus, a Benedictine at Ferrières, was attached to the clergy of Sens. Later he was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese, then archbishop in 828. In that position he fostered studies for the clergy (Benedictines).


Cassius, Florentius, and Companions MM (RM)
Died 303. This group of nine martyrs suffered at Bonn (Germany) at the command of Emperor Maximian Herculeus, although some believe they were among the martyrs of the Theban Legion. This latter tradition relates that they escaped the massacre of Agaunum, but were recaptured at Bonn and executed. A church was built over their tombs in the 4th century, for which there is written evidence since the 7th century. Their relics were translated by Bishop Rinaldus to the present Romanesque church in 1166. There they were rediscovered in 1929. In art, these patron saints of Bonn are depicted as members of the Theban Legion (Benedictines, Farmer).


Cerbonius of Verona B (RM)
Died c. 400. Almost nothing is known about this bishop of Verona in northern Italy (Benedictines).


Cerbonius of Piombino B (RM)
Died c. 580. This Saint Cerbonius is one of the many bishops driven from North Africa by the Arian Vandals. He settled at Piombino in Tuscany, Italy, where it is said he served the Church as bishop there (Benedictines). In art, Saint Cerbonius is depicted as a bishop with a bear licking his feet (Roeder). He is venerated in Tuscany. There is another Cerbonius who is venerated at Verona (Roeder).


Clarus of Nantes B (AC)
Died 3rd century (?). Some claim that Bishop Saint Clarus of Nantes was a disciple of Saint Peter and the first apostle of Brittany (then known as Armorica). More likely his episcopacy occurred several centuries later (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Daniel and Companions, OFM MM (RM)
Died at Ceuta, Morocco in 1221; canonized in 1516. Samuel, Angelus (Angeluccio), Domnus, Leo, Nicholas, Hugolinus, and Donulus were Italian Franciscans placed under the leadership of Saint Daniel, provincial of Calabria, and sent as missionaries to north Africa by Saint Francis of Assisi. Upon their arrival in Morocco, they were treated as madmen. After less than three weeks in the country, they were martyred by the Moors at Ceuta for refusing to apostatize to Islam (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Eulampius and Eulampia MM (RM)
Died c. 310. The siblings Saints Eulampius and Eulampia were martyred at Nicomedia during the reign of Gallienus. It is said that the courage of these two young children led to the conversion and martyrdom of 200 soldiers (Benedictines).


Francis Borgia y Aragon, SJ (RM)
Born at Gandia, Valencia, Spain in 1510; died shortly after midnight on September 30, 1572, in Rome; canonized 1671.

The name of Borgia (Borja) is understandably ill-sounding; however, Saint Francis was outstanding among those who brought honor to it. He was the scion of the family that produced Pope Callistus III (1455-1458) and a great-grandson of the man who became Pope Alexander VI of unhappy memory (who had fathered four children at the time of his elevation). Alexander VI had purchased the dukedom of Gandia for his son Peter and, upon Peter's death, gave it to another son, John, who was murdered soon after his marriage.

Francis was the eldest of 14 children born to John's son, the third duke of Gandia, and Juana of Aragon, daughter of the illegitimate some of King Ferdinand of Aragon. Two of his brothers became cardinals, one an abbot, one an archbishop, and two of his sisters became abbesses. Francis studied rhetoric and philosophy under his uncle, the archbishop of Saragossa.

For ten years from 1528 the marquis of Lombay, Saint Francis, was in the service of Emperor Charles V, to whom he was an adviser. At Alcalá de Henares, Francis was impressed by the appearance of a man whom he saw being taken to prison by the Inquisitors: Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Francis accompanied the emperor on a campaign in Provence. At age 19 (1529), Francis married Eleanor de Castro, by whom he had eight children.

In 1539 the Empress Isabella died, and Francis and his wife Eleanor accompanied the funeral procession from Toledo to Elvira. When they arrived at the tombs the coffin was opened, and the sight of the decomposing body of the empress, who in her lifetime had been so beautiful, had a profound effect on Francis. Thereafter, he devoted himself to fervent prayer and took Communion frequently. He also made his first contacts with the itinerant Jesuits.

That same year, Emperor Charles V appointed him imperial viceroy in Catalonia, which has its capital at Barcelona. He proved a model governor; but he was not acceptable to everybody because of his determined efforts to suppress corrupt administration of justice by the nobility and magistrates. He later wrote: "It was when I was Viceroy of Catalonia that God prepared me to be general of the Society of Jesus." He prayed as much as he could without neglecting his duties or growing family. The frequency of his sacramental communions caused unfavorable comment.

In 1543, his father died and Francis inherited all his titles, including that of duke of Gandia, and estates. He served for a time as master of the household of Prince Philip. When King John of Portugal refused to recognize his position in Philip's household, who had broken off his engagement to John's daughter, Francis retired to his duchy where he planned to build a Jesuit college. He used this time to found a Dominican monastery on his estate, restore a hospital, fortify Gandia against Moorish attacks and Barbary pirates. His wife also planned to build a monastery, but, much to Francis's great grief, she died in 1546 before completing the plans, leaving eight children of whom the youngest was eight years old.

Shortly after the death of Doña Eleanor, Blessed Peter Favre briefly visited the duke. Peter left for Rome with a message to Saint Ignatius that his host had vowed to become a Jesuit. Ignatius advised him to wait until he had settled his children and finished the foundations that he had begun. Meanwhile he was to study for a doctorate in theology at the university in Gandia, which he had inaugurated. Francis complied until he was called to court the following year. Thereupon he wrote urgently to Saint Ignatius who allow him to make his profession privately. The 40-year-old Francis left for Rome on August 31, 1550, made his profession, and returned to Spain within four months.

Having received permission from the emperor, Francis made over his titles and estates to his eldest son, Charles, and provided for his other children. Retiring to the hermitage at Oñate near Loyola, Francis shaved his head and beard, donned clerical robes, and was ordained a priest in 1551 during Whitsuntide. His action, which on the advice of Saint Ignatius Loyola he had kept a secret until the last moment, caused a sensation and earned him the nickname 'the Holy Duke.' The first Mass that he celebrated at Vergara was so crowded that it had to be held outdoors and lasted several hours. The pope had granted a plenary indulgence for assisting at the Mass.

He did all he could--through humility and extreme asceticism--to make men forget his exalted origins, but his abilities could not be hidden. His preaching drew huge crowds in Spain and Portugal. He went through the villages with a bell, calling the children to catechism, instructing and preaching especially in Guipuzcoa. Father Francis's superior in the house treated him severely to counter the effects of his previous exalted position.

The superior had little to worry about, however. Francis imposed upon himself severe mortifications. Upon his conversion Francis was an exceedingly fat man, but his physical austerities soon returned him to normal proportions. When he was required to curb his mortifications under obedience, he would devise physical discomforts to remind him of his position before God. Later in life he believed that he had been imprudent in his mortifications.

During this period of preaching throughout Spain, he became acquainted with Saint Teresa of Ávila. He was one of the first to recognize her greatness. Later during a return to Spain he was instrumental in protecting her from her persecutors when her confessor insisted that her visitations were wiles of the devil. Francis, who had himself received many tokens of divine grace, needed only one conversation with her to be convinced that her visions were indeed divine, and after that Saint Teresa was put under Jesuit confessors.

In 1554 Saint Ignatius Loyola appointed him provincial for those countries and the Indies. In this office Francis popularized the then little-known Jesuits, founding numerous houses and colleges, attracting many good recruits, and ministering to the abdicated Charles V and the dowager queen Joanna, who had gone mad after the death of her husband fifty years earlier. Queen Joanna had a special aversion to the clergy, but allowed Francis to comfort her on her deathbed.

There was enmity between Saint Francis and the Inquisition, and King Philip II listened to the calumnies of those jealous of the saint. Nevertheless, he continued his work in Portugal until 1561, when he was summoned to Rome by Pope Pius IV at the instigation of the Jesuit general, Father Laynez. Among those who regularly attended the sermons of Saint Francis were Cardinal Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Ghislieri (Pius V).

Four years later was unanimously elected father general of the Jesuits. The order made great progress during his seven-year rule; he has, indeed, been called its second founder. In fact, it is that Francis put the roof on the building whose foundations were laid by Saint Ignatius. He revised the rule of the Society in 1567.

Francis was particularly concerned with the improvement of the Roman College (now the Gregorian University), which he had already partially endowed. He encouraged the Jesuits to engage in foreign missionary work. He built Sant'Andrea on the Quirinal, began the famous Gésu church in Rome, established the Polish province, built colleges in France, and opened American missions. In 1566, when the plague ravaged Rome, he raised money to relieve the poor and sent his priests to tend the sick in hospitals.

As general of the Society of Jesus, Francis was one of the leading figures of the counter-reformation. Francis was a typical saint of the Spanish nobility: He was courteous, humble, refined, kind, and generous to others but austere to himself. He would sign himself "Francis the Sinner," until Saint Ignatius ordered him not to do so. As the bishop of Cartagena said in a letter to a friend, he was "a model duke and a perfect Christian gentleman."

In 1571, Pope Saint Pius V chose Saint Francis to accompany a mission led by Cardinal Bonelli to several European capitals to gather support for a crusade against the Turks; his reputation had preceded him, and crowds gathered, shouting: "We want to see the saint" and clamoring to hear him preach. But the fatigue entailed aggravated his failing health. When he arrived at the home of his cousin, Duke Alfonso of Ferrara, he was so ill that he was sent to Rome on a litter.

In his last moments, as his brother Thomas rehearsed their names, Francis pronounced a blessing on each of his children and grandchildren. When Francis was no longer able to speak, a painter was sent to his bedside to record his appearance. Francis saw him, expressed his displeasure with his dying hands and eyes, and turned his face away so that nothing could be done. The saint quietly died two days after returning to Rome. He was typical of the patrician saints: self-effacing, determined, enterprising, winning people of all ranks by his kindness and courtesy (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Walsh, Yeo).

Portrayed as a Jesuit holding a skull crowned with an imperial diadem. Sometimes the skull is on a book; other times he is shown kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament (Roeder).


Fulk of Fontenelle, OSB Abbot (PC)
Died 845. Saint Fulk was the 21st abbot of the great abbey of Fontenelle in Normandy, France (Benedictines).


Gereon and Companions MM (RM)
Date unknown (possibly 302); several feast days are variously recorded in different martyrologies. From the 4th century certain martyrs, now unknown, were venerated on the site of the church of Saint Gereon at Cologne, Germany. Saint Gregory of Tours, writing late in the 6th century, said they were a detachment of 50 men from the Theban Legion (massacred under orders from Emperor Maximian at Agaunum). In later medieval times they grew in number to 319, 'relics' of them were found, and a spurious account written. There were similar stories and happenings at Bonn and Xanten. Gereon was the name given to the leader of the Cologne martyrs, whom it is impossible to identify. Although they are generally considered saints with only a local cultus, Saint Bede mentions that their feast was included in the Sarum calendar, as well as those at Barking and Durham (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer).

With reference to them and to Saint Ursula and her maidens Father Hippolyte Delehaye, SJ, writes, "It is surely superfluous to recall that at Cologne the imagination of hagiographers was liable to exaggerate things to perhaps an unexampled degree" (Les origines du culte des martyrs, p. 360).

In art, Gereon is represented as a knight carrying a banner with the Theban Cross leading his companions. Sometimes he is shown (1) with Cologne in the background; (2) being thrown into a well; (3) with a sword or shield, spear, and palm (Roeder); or (4) as a medieval knight wearing a cross on his chest and bearing a lance and shield. The rich mosaics that decorated their chapel in Cologne led to their being called the "Golden Saints" (Farmer). They are venerated at Cologne (Roeder), where a splendid Romanesque church survives that is dedicated to their honor. Like other saints who were beheaded, he was invoked against headaches and migraines. He was also the patron of knights from the area around Cologne (Farmer).


Gundisalvus of Las Junias, OSB Cist. (AC)
Died c. 1163. Saint Gundisalvus was the first abbot or prior of the Cistercian Abbey of Las Junias, Portugal, which was founded as a daughter of Osera in 1135 (Benedictines).


Blessed Hugh of Mâcon, OSB Cist. B (PC)
Died 1151. Blessed Hugh became a monk under Saint Stephen, then, in 1114, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Pontigny. In 1137, Hugh became the first Cistercian bishop when he was elected to the see of Auxerre (Benedictines).


Maharsapor of Persia M (AC)
Died 421. A Christian Persian of noble family, Saint Maharsapor was seized with Narses (Parses) and Sabutaka when King Yezdigerd, angered at the destruction of a Mazdean temple unleashed a persecution of Christians. They were tortured and then Narses and Sabutaka were executed at the order of the judge Hormisdavarus, a former slave. Maharasapor was not so privileged. Repeatedly Maharasapor was brought before Hormisdavarus for examination and torture. After a three-year imprisonment, he was thrown into a cistern to die of starvation during the reign of Varanes V. Three days later he was found dead in the posture of prayer, surrounded by light (Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).


Patrician of Scotland B (AC)
5th century. Saint Patrician was driven from his Scottish see by heathen invaders. He lived out the rest of his days on the Isle of Man (Benedictines).


Paulinus of York, OSB B (RM)
Born c. 584; died at Rochester, England, 644. In 601, Saint Paulinus was sent as a missionary from Rome to England by Pope Saint Gregory I with Saints Mellitus and Justus. There assisted Bishop Saint Augustine by evangelizing in Kent for 24 years.

He was consecrated bishop of York in 625 by Justus, then accompanied Saint Ethelburga, daughter of King Ethelbert of Kent, to Northumbria as her chaplain when she married Edwin of Northumbria. Saint Bede tells us that two years later (627) Paulinus baptized King Saint Edwin on Easter Eve in York, bringing Christianity to Northumbria. (A much less reliable source, the Welsh Nennius, ascribes Edwin's baptism to a Welsh priest.) Paulinus and his assistants baptized thousands, who followed their king into Christianity.

Saint Paulinus, described as a tall, dark man, "of venerable and awe-inspiring appearance," followed up Edwin's baptism with a series of missionary journeys over a wide area. He reached as far north as Lincoln. During the last year's of Edwin's reign, there was such peace and order in his dominions that a proverb arose: A woman could carry her newborn baby across the island from sea to sea and suffer no harm (Bede). But the peace did not last for long.

Pope Saint Honorius I recognized Paulinus as archbishop of York, but before the letter arrived the first missionary efforts in Northumbria had ended. When Edwin was slain by the pagan Mercian Cadwallon at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633, Northumbria reverted to paganism. Paulinus returned to Kent by sea with Ethelburga, her two children, and Edwin's grandson Osfrid. He left his deacon James to conduct the missionary efforts to the best of his ability in difficult circumstances. Paulinus was named administrator of the vacant see of Rochester, administered it for 10 years (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).

Generally, Paulinus is depicted as an archbishop baptizing King Saint Edwin (Roeder).


Paulinus of Capua B (RM)
Born in England; died at Sicopolis in 843. Saint Paulinus made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On his return he stopped for a time in Capua, Italy, where he was enlisted by the natives to become their bishop. After an eight-year episcopacy, he was forced from the see by a Saracen invasion (Benedictines).


Pinytus of Crete B (RM)
Died after 180. The Greek bishop, Saint Pinytus of Knossos, Crete, was described by Eusebius as one of the distinguished spiritual writers (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Tranca (Tanca, Tancha) of Troyes VM (AC)
Died c. 637. Saint Tranca, a young French girl, was murdered while defending her virginity. She is venerated in region near Troyes, France, as a virgin martyr (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Victor and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 286. Saint Victor led a group of 330 soldiers who were connected with the Theban Legion. They were martyred at Xanten on the Lower Rhein (Benedictines).



About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.