Today, October 3, is the Jesuit feast of St. Francis Borgia, SJ, 4th Duke of Gandía and the 3rd General of the Society. While most of the Church celebrates his feast day on September 30 (the day he died) Jesuits adhere to the date used in the General Roman Calendar, which is October 3.
Francis was born in 1510 into the wealthy, and somewhat infamous, Borgia family. As a result of his noble birth, Francis was trained in horseback riding, hunting, fencing and dancing. He would go on to marry Eleonor de Castro, the first lady-in-waiting for Empress Isabella of Portugal. Francis and Eleonor would go on to have eight children together. When his father died in 1542, Francis became the 4th Duke of Gandía.
Before joining the Society, Francis had a familiarity with Jesuits. He personally knew St. Peter Faber and helped found a Jesuit College in Gandía, which would eventually become Gregorian University. In 1546, Francis’ life was forever changed when his wife died. Shortly after her death he made a retreat at the College in Gandía and started to discern a vocation to the Society. It would be at this school where Francis would eventually earn his doctorate in theology.
Francis, after making sure that his children would be taken care of, gave up all material wealth as well as his title as duke and entered the Society. In 1565, after the death of Jesuit Father General Diego Laynez, he became the third Superior General of the Society of Jesus. This was a position that he did not feel worthy of and he strived to follow the examples of his two Jesuit predecessors, Diego Laynez and St. Ignatius Loyola. During his time as General he would go on to revise the Constitutions of the Society, oversee its expansion and mission Jesuits to India and the Americas.
St. Francis Borgia is remembered for his desire to serve God and the Church above any wealth and earthly titles.