This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10 -- Feast of Saint Francis Borgia

Goya depicted him exorcising demons -- cool!
Thanks in no small part to their (reasonably) loyal retainer, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Borgia family is reputed to be one of the most cunning and unscrupulous families in Renaissance Italy, if not in all Europe.  And he didn't even get into the personal lives of Rodrigo, Lucretia, and Cesare, which was wise because the Church would have Inquisitioned the Hell out of him (sic). For a brief and salacious glimpse into the private lives of the notorious Borgias, consider the Banquet of Chestnuts.   If there were any justice (in the human understanding of it) in the distribution of miracles, the Chair of Saint Peter would have scorched the ass right off His Unholiness, Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo Borgia).  But then again, who am I to judge? 

I can never resist a mug shot.
Anyway, the odd thing about this dynasty is that at the tail end of its influence, it produced Saint Francisco de Borja y Aragon.  The great-grandson of His Unholiness, grandson of the King of Aragon (Rodrigo had four sons while serving as a cardinal -- they were officially recognized as nephews by the Pope of that time), he was the son of a Duke and raised at the Court of King Charles V.  He was a model of courtly propriety and eventually inherited the Duchy of Gandia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. 

After his eight kids were grown and his wife died, he followed his good friend Ignatius of Loyola into the new Society of Jesus (Jesuits) that Ignatius had founded.  He rose quickly in responsibility, having gotten in virtually at the beginning.  First he was director of the missions to the East and West Indies.  Then he became Commissary-General of the Jesuits in Spain, then General of the Jesuits (all of them).  He expanded the missionary program, sending folks to Florida, New Spain, and Peru, but at the same time made changes to preserve the spiritual growth of the missionaries themselves (e.g. daily meditations).  He was tight with the top men in the Church at the time, and though he never wore the papal cap himself, he eclipsed his great-grandfather's infamy with his own service to the Church. 

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