Biography of San Francisco de Borja (1510-1572)

Superior general of the society of Jesus, Viceroy of Catalonia and IV Duke of Gandia, born October 28, 1510 and died September 30, 1572 in Rome. He/She was beatified by Pope Urban VIII and canonized by Clement X. He/She is patron of Gandia, the Spanish nobility and the General Curia of the society of Jesus. His feast is celebrated on 3 October.

Lineage and family

The Borja comes from the homonymous Aragonese people, but soon settled in Játiva. Its first major offshoot was the Pope Callixtus III. The lineage spread thanks to the double policy of Rodrigo de Borja, later Alejandro VI. The eldest son of Rodrigo Borja, being Cardinal, was born from the marriage with Julia Farnese, sister of Cardinal Alejandro Farnese, future Paul III, and was called Pedro Luis (Rome, 1462-1488). It was the first Duke Borgesian of Gandia on the purchase of the Duchy and the castle of Bayrent, Rodrigo Borja was bequeathed to latere in Spain in 1471. Pedro Luis was espoused in 1486 by powers with María Henríquez (1469ca-1539), daughter of Enrique Henríquez and María de Luna. But marriage was not consummated, and the husband died two years later, shortly after entering Rome in August 1488.

His brother happened to Duke Pedro Luis Juan, born in 1476 and died June 14, 1497, that it greatly increased its influence in the shadow of his papal father. The arrival of the Duke Juan de Borja to Barcelona and then to Gandia at the end of 1494 marked a new stage. Had married engaged to his brother, María Henríquez, in Barcelona, on August 31, 1493, previous papal dispensation, with whom he/she had to Juan de Borja y Henríquez, born 10 November 1494 and died on January 9, 1543, who succeeded him as third Duke Borgesian after the still-dark and tragic death of his father. Her sister Elizabeth (1495-1547) became a nun clarisa in Gandia.

Juan de Borja y Henríquez married in Valladolid 31 January 1509 Juana de Aragón (ca1493-1521?), granddaughter of Fernando the Catholic, the daughter of the Archbishop of Zaragoza Alonso de Aragón. This Archbishop with Ana de Gurrea had four sons: Juan of Aragon, Bishop of Huesca (1484-1519); Fernando of Aragon, also Archbishop of Saragossa (1539-1577); Ana de Aragón, married to the Duke of Medina Sidonia Juan Alonso de Guzmán; and Juana de Aragón.

As all the first Borja, Juan had extensive descent. From the first marriage with Juana de Aragón seven were born: Francisco (1510-1572), Alonso (1511-1536) Abbot of the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Valldigna bernardo comendatario; María (1513-1569) clarisa (María de la Cruz); Ana (1514-1568) clarisa (Juana Evangelista); Isabel (1515-1568) clarisa (Juana Bautista); Enrique (1519-1540), Commander of Montesa and Cardinal; and Luisa (1520-1560), married to Martín de Aragón and Gurrea, count of Ribagorza and Duke of Villahermosa, which deserved consideration of "Holy Duchess". Adulterina union with the noble Lady Catalina Díaz was born Juan Cristobal (1517-1573). An author adds another adulterous son, don Pedro de Borja, who was general Vicar of the Kingdom of Naples.

Juan de Borja remarried married Leonor de Castro, sister of Viscount of Evol. The children of this marriage were twelve: Jerome, Knight of Santiago; Rodrigo (1523-1536) Cardinal; Pedro Luis Galcerán (1528-1592), Grand Master of Montesa, first Marquis of Navarres, general captain of Oran and Viceroy of Catalonia; Diego (1529-1562); Felipe-Manuel (1530-1587), Knight of Montesa; María (1533-?), the clarisa sor María Gabriela; Leonor (1534-1564), married to Miguel de Gurrea; Ana (1535-1565?), the clarisa sor Juana de la Cruz; Magdalena Clara (1536-1592), married to the count of Almenara Francisco de Proxita; Margarita (1538-1573), married Fadrique of Portugal; Juana (1540-?); Thomas (1543-†1610), Bishop of Málaga, Archbishop of Saragossa and Viceroy of Aragon.


The first fruit of the link between Juan de Borja y Juana of Aragon was Francisco de Borja y Aragón, Alejandro VI by patrilineal great-grandson and great-grandson of Fernando el Católico matrilineal. After the first steps in their education, under the supervision of his grandfather Archbishop of Zaragoza, and after his death, which occurred in Lécera on 23 February 1520, opened the possibility of sending to Borja to the Court, every time that the emperor would return to Spain in 1522. An enviable courtier destination, was aimed at Tordesillas, which was not, however, as it would have been the Court of Carlos V, and would have deserved the children of the Duke. The posthumous daughter of Felipe the beautiful Catherine of Austria, the first person to whom Francisco served, he/she will recall that also lived in the Palace. Princess made her upset mother company until by order of the King had to marry Juan III of Portugal in 1524.

In Tordesillas, 1522-1526, Francisco de Borja met personally to the emperor. He/She returned to Zaragoza, where he/she studied philosophy, given by master Gaspar Lax. In the middle of 1529 Carlos V agreed with Juan de Borja the marriage of his eldest son with a Portuguese, Lady of the Empress, daughter of Álvaro de Castro and Isabel Barreto and Leonor de Castro (1509-1546). The 26 July 1529 was held by authorities in Barcelona and on August 15 of that year held the ecclesiastical wedding in Toledo. The couple had eight children: Carlos (1530-1592), V Duke of Gandia; Isabel (1532-1566), married to Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, III count of Lerma; Juan (1533-1606), I count of Mayalde and Ficalho; Álvaro (1534-1594), Marquis of Alcañices, married Elvira de Almansa; Juana (1535-?), married to Juan Enríquez de Almansa; Fernando (1535-?), Commander of Calatrava; Dorotea (1537-1552), clarisa; and Alfonso (1539-?), married to Leonor de Noroña. In September 1529 Carlos V elevated to Marquess the barony of Lombay, Borja, possessed and appointed him master of the horse from the Empress.

Empress Elisabeth held the first Regency in 1530, which lasted until 1533. During this time Borja came close to the Empress, playing his position; He/She taught riding to the future Felipe II. In 1535 he/she suffered dysentery in Madrid, opening a block of diseases that will extend throughout his life. In April and may of 1536 he/she took part in the war of Provence against the King of France and attended the death of Garcilaso de la Vega. April 27, 1539 began the spiritual change referred to by him as "conversion", coinciding with the unexpected illness of the Empress, whose death, may 1, 1539, produced in his mind a vivid impression. Responsible for driving the corpse to Granada and attest to their identity before the burial, May 17, had a deep feeling for the revocation of the earthly things. Here originated their decision to engage in a more perfect life, but not become religious, and even less Jesuit.

Dead Isabel, the Court tried to form the House of the infantas María and Juana, since Felipe would have his own House. One of the people who could participate as aya was the marquise of Lombay, but Carlos V would not have it, "because it was very daring woman" and able to "correspond with foreign Kings"; the emperor was more confident Leonor de Mascareñas. The ladies Eleanor de Mascareñas and Beatriz de Melo, which formed part of the House of the Empress, with whom were the Marquis of Lombay, began to have contact with Saint Ignatius of Loyola at an early date. Eleanor of Mascareñas knew san Ignacio since 1527, when from Alcala went to Salamanca to Valladolid, where the Court was and Beatriz de Melo from 1533, when the Empress was in Barcelona. Another meeting of St. Ignatius with Mascarene was also in Valladolid in 1535. Therefore, Borja could learn to san Ignacio in Valladolid in 1527 and 1535, although there is no documentary evidence of such encounters.

Political work: viceroy of Catalonia

The Emperor named Borja, exactly ten years after his marriage with Leonor, i.e. July 26, 1539, and as if to make clear that it recognized and appreciated as well its link with the Portuguese, his general Lieutenant in Catalonia. From that moment it was the "Marquis of Lombay, lieutenant general in the Principality of Catalonia and the counties of Roussillon and Cerdanya". However, he/she always signed his letters as that which was from the nobility, i.e. as Marquis and Duke point of view when it was.

His Viceroyalty correspondence is very abundant. From the point of view of his office maintained correspondence with Carlos V and Prince Felipe, and almost daily with Cobos, Secretary of the Emperor, and with Cardinal Regent Tavera. Also because of his trade he/she maintained intense and frequent contacts with ambassadors, especially with those of Genoa and France. Viceroys and Governors, as the Duke of Calabria or the Archbishop of Valencia; with the Council of Aragon; military as the Prince Doria, Bernardino de Mendoza, with the captain general of Perpiñán Juan de Acuña; with the Duke of Cardona, the Duke of Gandia with her father; with the Catalan nobility as the count of Modica, Luis Enrique Girón; with Fernando of Cardona and Soma, Admiral of Naples; with Juan de Cardona, Bishop of Barcelona; and also with real Secretaries as Juan Vázquez, Juan de Idiáquez and Gonzalo Pérez.

Often the responsibility of his office mingled with the personal friendship that was creating with their partners, as evidenced by the case of the Ambassador of Genoa, Gómez Suárez de Figueroa, eventually Duke of Feria, with whom he/she maintained continuous correspondence. Connection to his life of piety, he/she confessed with the Valencian Dominican Juan Michol and Tomás Guzmán, provincial.

The most ungrateful points of the Viceroyalty were those relating to justice, which involved Chase, capture, trial and punishment against the bandits, smugglers, and even against Lutherans and moriscos. To solve this problem, the Emperor ordered him to have good communication with the viceroy of Aragon to avoid that the bandits went realm into the Principality and vice versa and thus get rid of receive the just punishment because of jurisdictional issues. In this sense, others claimed the ecclesiastical jurisdictions for failure to comply with the orders of the emperor. The greatest difficulty was, however, the French military pressure on the borders. During the Viceroyalty of Borja were highlighted tensions between Spain and France. Although there was peace, he/she lived with concern, as the Principality was, in fact, a military base of the first order. Not only should contain a possible French attack, but also attacking the Turkish, ally of the French and of the Barbary Corsairs. The zenith came with the unsuccessful day of Algiers of the Emperor, in the autumn of 1541, operation largely deprecated by its generals, but which was marred by the storms.

In early 1542 there were cuts in monsoon, which vowed to Prince Felipe being present Borja. According to the biographer Ribadeneira, Emperor hinted to Borja and this one mutual order to leave his post and lead a secluded life. The Emperor, who will visit the city in October of 1542 to oversee the fortifications, pressured Borja so that they would be well protected by the party who gave to the coast, as warnings that Turk was armada to invade by any party were.

The day after the death of Juan de Borja, on January 8, 1542, eager to return to the desired company of Algiers, Borja wrote to Carlos V on the progress in the fortifications and the construction of galeras, also explains that in the Berber nest were unprepared and without hardly provisions. But the Emperor, since he/she had known the death of Juan de Borja, thought removing you from the Viceroyalty and allocation to another location, but before it wanted to give its just title of Duke. From Madrid, on 22 January, the emperor sent a letter to his Viceroy with these new words: "illustrious cousin Duke, our general Lieutenant in the Principality of Catalonia".

Carlos V made know to the new Duke who before receiving his letter of 14 January informing him the death of his father already had learned through other channels. Apart from the condolences, the Emperor told him that he/she was much pleased to happen to his father in that House ducal, so it does not need had again "ofrescimiento", because by his words and the experience he/she knew well that always had him serve. It also informed him that it would be presented in Barcelona in a few days, by which asked that leave for later your travel to Gandia to arrange the Affairs of the Duchy. Borja left his April 18, 1543, obeying an imperial order, even if he/she wanted to go there. Carlos V left him not for being ineffective, but because he/she had planned for the other charges together with Prince Felipe. It is also possible that the Emperor expected more initiatives in the defense of the Principality, and if it had remained in closer contact with the Duke of Alba, captain-general, would have perhaps prevented his departure from power.

Religious work: Member of the society of Jesus

During this period he/she became more inclined to "own", continued dedicating to which is hereinafter and knowledge on which he/she wrote several methods. He/She followed the advice of the lego Franciscan fray Juan de Tejeda, who then took with him to Gandia. In Barcelona he/she met also san Pedro de Alcántara and in 1541 was the first contact with the society of Jesus in the person of blessed Pedro Fabro, passing through the city of Barcelona.

In 1543, Carlos V appointed him to the important post of steward of the Princess María, daughter of the King of Portugal, who was to marry Prince Felipe. But the Queen of Portugal, mother of the wife, was opposed to this nomination, it seems, because of the nature of Leonor de Castro. Borja retired to Gandia, to assume the leadership of his Duchy. His wife died March 27, 1546 and at the same time intensified their spiritual life. May 5 was the cornerstone of the Jesuit college that opened there, and on 22 may, after some spiritual exercises with father Oviedo, decided to become a Jesuit; in other words, just two months after the death of his wife. Interesting to note that in his spiritual diary always remember the date of May 1, death of the Empress, and that do not make any mention of the date of the death of his wife. 2 June 1546 made their votes, and 1 February 1548 the profession, all led with the maximum possible secret by indication of Ignatius of Loyola.

The College of the society of Jesus of Gandia was the first in Europe which were opened for students not Jesuit, which, with emanated Bull of Paul III 4 November 1547, was elevated to the rank of University. Borja studied theology and received the degree of doctor in August 29, 1550 at that University. In the meantime, February 1, 1548 secretly made the solemn profession in the company, no vow of poverty, with permission to follow dealing with the administration of his Duchy and living with secular suit. Thanks to his intervention, the Pope Paul III granted, 31 July 1548, the adoption of the book of the exercises of St. Ignatius.

Testament made on 26 August 1550, departed five days later to Rome, accompanied by some parents and people from his entourage, with intention to win the Jubilee of the Holy year and take up with Ignatius recent agreements regarding its passage to the life of the company. The 4 February 1551 returned to Spain, to the Basque country, where, after renouncing his titles and possessions and with the permission of Carlos V, took the religious habit of May 11, 1551. He/She was ordained priest in Oñate 23 May 1551 by the Auxiliary Bishop of Logroño and August 1 celebrated his first mass in the Oratory of the Loyola House with great assistance of the faithful. Between 1551 and 1554 he/she alternated preaching with the exercises of the inner life and the composition of its spiritual treaties. Proposed by Carlos V to the cardinalship, he/she resigned to it on several occasions. On May 10, 1544 began the spiritual direction of Juana of Austria, sister of Felipe II, which will cast the first votes of Jesuit. The 22 August 1554 he/she gave in Simancas simple votes that make the professed of the company. The only "professed" was Catherine de Mendoza, natural daughter of the IV count of Tendilla, co-founder with his aunt María School of Alcalá and died in 1602.

San Ignacio Borja was named Commissioner general for the provinces of Spain and Portugal. It was wide to admit new schools, what shall be crossed out you later; about 20 began in Spain. Juana la Loca in Tordesillas, mother of the Emperor, by the own insane desire, wanting to know how prepared the marriage of Prince Felipe with María of England, although it is true that Prince Felipe had asked that you comfort her in his imminent death and tried to get rid of their Follies, which bordered with heresy visited. He/She attended the Queen Juana in their last throes.

In 1554 he/she founded in Simancas, the first novitiate of the company in Spain. Carlos V, who in 1555, after having abdicated the throne, had retired to Yuste, called twice to this loneliness Borja for advice. In the hour of death wanted to have you by his side and his executor, along with his son named him Felipe. The confidence with which Felipe II and his sister, the Princess Juana, distinguished it, Borja attracted the envy of some for participating in the Government secretly. But the toughest test came on the occasion of the abusive publication of a book entitled the works of Christian, which, along with some genuine treaties, inserted others who were not of the Holy. They were the times in which the Inquisition in Spain watched carefully to suppress any form of Lutheranism. The book attributed to Borja was inserted in the catalogue of prohibited books, published in 1559 by the Grand Inquisitor in Spain, Fernando de Valdés. Borja had to flee Portugal 31 October. Although his innocence been fully proven by affidavit, the difficulty endured, especially by Borja House distrust of Felipe II. Solution which offered the company was proposing to Pope Pius IV he/she called Borja a Roma to address important issues, where arrived 7 September 1561. By then it was believed in court that his public life had ended.

When at the end of 1562 the Council of Trent, the general resumed Diego Laínez and Salmerón Alfonso vicar had to move to that city. Then was Borja in Rome with powers of vicar, until the return of father Laínez, the 12 January 1564. A month following Lainez appointed Assistant Borja of Spain and Portugal. On the death of the father Laínez (19-I-1565) Borja was appointed vicar and as such called the second General Congregation. This general Borja of the company appointed on July 2, the year 1565. His generalship coincided almost at all with the papacy of St. Pius V, who showed no sign of esteem towards the company, but imposed two obligations contrary to the Institute: the obligation of choir and the issuance of the solemn profession before priestly ordination; Gregory XIII, in 1572, it would restore to the company its way to genuine.

In his Government, Borja boosted studies and became interested in the formation of the novices, ensuring that each province should have their novitiate. Revised and completed the company's rules, which made an edition in Rome the year 1567 and another in Naples the following year. In 1570 he/she made an edition of the constitutions. Using the Faculty given to him by the General Congregation, he/she imposed all the time of prayer, with some modalities according to the provinces. The Church of the Gesù, in Rome, built thanks to the bounty of the cardinal Alejandro Farnese, nephew of Paul III, as well as the Roman College, future Gregorian University was due to his efforts. In the field of the apostolate can highlight the founding of the first Jesuit missions in America territories subject to the Crown of Spain: Florida, Mexico and Peru.

He had a friendship with St. Teresa of Jesus, which was his confessor; the reformers bishops Santo Tomás de Villanueva, san Carlos Borromeo and san Juan de Ribera; the ascetic san Pedro de Alcántara; the Valencian missionary san Luis Bertrán; the Dominican Pope St. Pius V; the great master of Andalusia and patron of Spanish priests san Juan de Ávila; the rector of the Roman College, St. Robert Bellarmine; the Jesuit Apostle of Germany san Pedro Canisio, and the Valencian and beatified Franciscan Nicolás Factor. He/She also advised the learned fray Luis de Granada in terms of prayer and related to almost all the Cardinals of the Church, since the Governor Tavera through Granvelle, Farnese, Crivelli, Morone, Paleotti. It was part of a select group of reform clergymen, and that after the death of Pius V, there was major near misses to choose Pope. It did everything possible to help the unfortunate Archbishop of Toledo Bartolomé de Carranza, with whom he/she enjoyed a profound friendship. Also closely related with characters that would then be potatoes, as nuncio in Spain Juan Bautista Castagna (Urban VII) and with the auditor of the Rota, Aldobrandini (Clement VIII).

June 30, 1571, by order of Pope Pius V, accompanied as an Adviser on his trip to Spain, Portugal, France and Italy to Cardinal Miguel Bonelli, responsible for coordinating the efforts of the Catholic powers in the fight against the Turks, and ensure that the French Princess Marguerite de Valois were both with the King Portugal Sebastián and that both kingdoms entered the Holy League. This trip meant his rehabilitation before the Spanish Court and the King, he/she sent confidential reports of efforts made. He/She returned to Italy, already very ill, but he/she wanted, nevertheless, visit the shrine of the Virgin of Loreto. Three days after his arrival in Rome he/she died, 30 September 1572. He/She was beatified by Pope Urban VIII on November 24, the year 1624, and canonized by Clement X 12 April 1671.

During the Baroque, the company of Jesus and his own family, special is his grandson, the Duke of Lerma, exalted his figure through the theatre, literature, painting, sculpture, and they promoted the canonization process. His body was transferred to Spain by order of the Duke of Lerma and was preserved in the Church of the casa Professa of Madrid until it was charred in the fire of the Church and caused House on April 14, 1931. Only some relics could be collected, which are currently venerated in the new Church of San Francisco de Borja de la Compañía de Jesús in Madrid.

With respect to their works, the Edition Latin Opera omnia is Bruxelles 1675; a selection of its spiritual treaties has been published by C. de Dalmases collection spiritual Spanish, Barcelona 1963; of special interest for the history of the prayer are the meditations follow the liturgical year, published in 1912 by Federico Cervós under the title of thoughtful Gospel, Madrid 1912; He/She also composed meditations for the festivals of the Saints which were published in 1925 by José María March, under the title of S. Francisco de Borja's meditations for the festivals of Saints, Barcelona 1925; a list of the Holy spiritual works, both handwritten as printed, was published by C. Dalmases and J. F. Gilmont, "The works of san Francisco de Borja", in Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu 30 (1961) 125-179. His spiritual journal (1464-1570) has been reissued by M. Ruiz Jurado, Santander 1997. Their correspondence was published partially in Monumenta Borgia, 5 vol., Madrid 1894-1911. He/She was also a musical composer, and his talent is credited with a mass, a Magnificat and Beati Psalm immaculati in via qui travelling in lege Domini.


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