St. Francis Borgia was born on Oct. 28, 1510, in Spain. He was the son of the Duke of Gandia, the great grandson of Pope Alexander VI, on his father’s side, and of King Ferdinand of Aragon on his mother’s side.
Francis’ grandmother and mother lived with a convent of Poor Clares, and led the court of the Borgia in piety, restoring some of the scandalous lineage of the Borgia family. Francis grew in faith, and became a favorite at the court of Charles V. One day, Francis was traveling through Alcala, when he saw a man being escorted to prison by the Inquisition. That man was St. Ignatius of Loyola, who would have a profound impact on Francis’ life.
In 1539, Francis was made the Viceroy of Catalonia, and then became Duke of Gandia after his father’s death four years later. He built a university, became a Doctor in theology, and invited the Jesuits to his duchy.
After his wife died in 1546, Francis entered the Society of Jesus, but the pope ordered him to stay in the world, until he had taken care of his 10 children and his duchy. Two years later, Francis left Gandia and joined the Jesuits in Rome. He convinced Ignatius to found the Roman College, and then went to Spain, where he was known for his preaching and his holy example.
In 1565, Francis was elected as general, and initiated many projects with great zeal even though he was in ill health. He is known for so many reforms and projects with the Jesuit society that he has been considered its second founder.
St. Francis died on Sept. 30, 1572, and was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1670.