"Everyone-whether kings, nobles, tradesmen, or peasants- must do all things for the glory of God and under the inspiration of Christ's example..."

       --Saint Francis of Borgia



About the Author

Nezel Yurong is a freelance writer and a seeker. She once spent an entire decade in the corporate world, yet changed paths to pursue her passion. Being with nature is her way of cultivating her spirituality.

Saint Francis Borgia - An Embodiment of Humility

by Nezel Yurong

August 31, 2017

     St. Francis Borgia (1520-1572) was named after St. Francis of Assisi. He was a man of great wealth, privilege, and nobility and a saint known for his virtue and humility. His life is proof that serving the Divine Master is greater than the earthly power and material possessions a man can have. His inspirations that are still present unto this day are his sacrifice and humility, far-reaching vision, and steadfast endurance as the soldier of the Lord.

Born in Valencia, Spain, St. Francis has a royal lineage. His father was the third Duke of Gandia while his great grandfather on his mother’s side was King Ferdinand, the Catholic.

At a very young age, he was very pious and even wished to become a monk. But as was destined to be, his family sent him to the court of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. While in court, he was exposed to a lot of temptations including gambling and promiscuity. Yet he maintained his innocence by frequently partaking of the Blessed Sacrament,  great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the practice of mortification.

He married an equally pious woman, Eleanor de Castro of Portugal. They were blessed with eight children, five sons, and three daughters.

The Emperor appointed him Captain-General of a force of troops, sending him to bring a band of ruffians to justice. He, in effect, became the Christian Viceroy of the Emperor, protecting the poor against oppression, endowing poor girls, assisting families, delivering debtors from prison by paying what they owed and banishing vices with his ordinances.

Upon his father’s death, he returned home and became the 4th Duke of Gandia, one of the richest and honored noblemen in Spain. He continued his good works, building hospitals and monasteries and helping the poor.

When his wife died, he made a decision that astonished the nobles of Spain: he renounced his titles in favor of his son Charles and pursued becoming a Jesuit priest. He was drawn to the discipline and lifestyle of the Jesuits, whom he assisted in building monasteries.

At his first mass, floods of people came that they had to set up an altar outdoors. 

The humility of St. Francis Borgia

Because of the honorable life he used to live, his superiors tested him and treated him the opposite way. They assigned him to help the cook, carry wood for the fire, and sweep the kitchen. Despite all these, he never complained nor grumbled. 

At one time, while serving food to priests and brothers, he knelt down in front of them, begging to forgive him for his clumsiness.

St. Francis got angry only once: when he was treated with respect as if he was still a Duke. Once a doctor who treated his painful wound said to him: “I am afraid, my Lord, that I have to hurt your grace.” The saint answered that what hurt him more was his act of calling him "my lord" and "your grace."

The humble St. Francis continued his wonderful works of establishing colleges or houses of the Society of Jesus all over Spain and Portugal and sent missionaries throughout the world when he became its third Superior General.

Because of the changes and revitalization that he brought to the Society, he was referred to as the “Second Founder of the Society of Jesus.”

Regardless of all his success, St. Francis Borgia remained completely humble.

How can we emulate the humility of St. Francis Borgia in today’s world

Humility is a virtue that we all need to practice, not just to become good Christians, but to transcend the narcissistic tendencies we are inclined to in this modernized generation. 

With the advent of social media, people express themselves more freely, most often, displaying their arrogant side. They proudly display their accomplishments or material possessions. While there’s nothing wrong with inspiring others that they may do their best to be equally blessed as you are, sometimes, your very act makes others feel small and unaccomplished. It’s true we can’t control how others feel. But wouldn’t it be much beautiful if what others see in our social media accounts is something that gives them a lingering feeling of happiness or fulfillment?

Also, the lack of humility pushes people to bully or humiliate others. 

We live in the most challenging of times. But St. Francis Borgia can help in showing us the way by learning this two essences of humility:

      You don't need to be a weakling or a person with low self-esteem to stay humble.

      You may be great but you still have the ability to stay humble.

And his most important lesson: there is more to life than earthly powers and material possessions. It is to serve our true God. But we can only achieve that when we are humble enough to see ourselves as not above others.

Prayer of the Feast of St. Francis Borgia (October 10) 

O Lord Jesus Christ,

Who art both the example and the reward of true humility:

we beseech Thee that even as Thou

didst make blessed Francis glorious

by following Thee in despising earthly honors,

so Thou wouldst suffer us also to become his companions

alike in following Thee and in his glory.

Who liveth and reigneth with God the Father,

in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God,

world without end.




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