Feast of Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Peter Claver (September 9)   2 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCIS BORGIA (OCTOBER 28, 1510-SEPTEMBER 30, 1572)

“Second Founder of the Society of Jesus”

Also known as Francisco de Borja y Aragon

His feast transferred from September 30, October 3, and October 10

worked with

SAINT PETER FABER (APRIL 13, 1506-AUGUST 1, 1546)

Apostle of Germany, and Cofounder of the Society of Jesus

His feast transferred from August 1

taught

SAINT ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ (JULY 25, 1532-OCTOBER 31, 1617)

Spanish Jesuit Lay Brother

His feast transferred from October 31

counseled

SAINT PETER CLAVER (1580/1581-SEPTEMBER 8, 1654)

“Apostle to the Negroes”

His feast day = September 9

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One of my goals in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That goal is germane to this post.

I began by taking notes about St. Peter Claver.  During that process I noticed the link to St. Alphonsus Rodriguez.  While I took notes on him, I saw the name of St. Peter Faber.  I took notes about him and noticed the link to St. Francis Borgia, so I added Borgia to the post too.

Above:  St. Francis Borgia, S.J.

Image in the Public Domain

St. Francis Borgia, born in Gandia, Valencia, Aragon, on October 28, 1510, was a nobleman.  He, related to Aragonese royalty, was a great-grandson of the infamous Rodrigo Borgia, who, in 1492, bribed his way into the Papacy and became Alexander VI.  Our saint, raised in the court of King Charles I of Spain/Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, married Eleanor de Castro (d. 1546) in 1529.  The couple had eight children.  From 1539 to 1543 Borgia was the Viceroy of Catalonia.  Then, in 1543, he became the Duke of Gandia.

Borgia made his greatest contributors as a Jesuit.  He, a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), joined the Society of Jesus in 1548.  Three years later our saint became a priest.  His responsibilities increased as time passed.  Borgia had oversight of missions in the East Indies and the West Indies before become the superior in Spain in 1560.  Five years later Borgia became the Superior General of the order.  In a few years he revitalized the order and established missions in Peru, Florida, and elsewhere in the Spanish Empire in the Americas.  Our saint, convinced that Jesuits were working too much and praying too little, introduced the hour-long meditation.

Borgia died in Ferrara (now in Italy) on September 30, 1572, about a month prior to what would have been his sixty-second birthday.  Pope Gregory XV beatified him in 1624.  Pope Clement X canonized him in 1670.

Above:  St. Peter Faber

Image in the Public Domain

Borgia worked with St. Peter Faber, born in Villaret, Savoy, on April 13, 1506.  Faber, from a farm family, worked as a shepherd when he was young.  Our saint was devout from childhood; he even catechized other children when he was one.

Faber, educated at Saint-Barbe College, Paris, became a priest in 1534, the same year he and his friend, St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founded the Society of Jesus.  Faber, also a friend of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), was an active participant–a preacher and theologian–in the Counter-Reformation.  He enabled St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597), leader of the Counter-Reformation in Germany, to fulfill that function.

Faber, aged 40 years, died in Rome on August 1, 1546.  Toward the end he was too ill to attend the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and to become the Patriarch of Ethiopia.  Pope Leo XIII beatified Faber in 1872.  Pope Francis canonized our saint in 2013.

Faber prepared the 10-year-old St. Alphonsus Rodriguez for First Communion.

Above:  St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

Image in the Public Domain

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, once a businessman, became a Jesuit lay brother and an influential spiritual advisor.  He, born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, was the third of eleven children of prosperous wool merchant Diego Rodriguez, who died when our saint was 15 years old.  That death ended the education of young Alphonsus by the Jesuits, for a time.  Our saint, back home, took over the family business.  Rodriguez married Maria Suarez when he was 26 years old.  The couple had three children, two of whom predeceased their mother.  Rodriguez buried his wife then his mother in his thirties.  Next he sold the business and moved in with his sisters, who helped to raise the young son and taught our saint prayerful meditation.

Rodriguez had a vocation to religious life.  After the death of his third (of three) child, he inquired about becoming a novice.  Our saint did not meet the educational requirement to become a novice.  Attempts to acquire that education ended in failure.  He could, however, become a lay brother and study with children.  After six months the order sent Rodriguez to the College of Montesión, Palma, Majorca/Mallorca.  There our saint was the porter for 46 years; he delivered packages, gave alms to the poor, and assisted travelers in search of lodging.  Rodriguez made his final vows in 1586/1587, when he was 54 years old.

Above:  St. Peter Claver

Image in the Public Domain

St. Peter Claver, born into a farming family in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, in 1580/1581, grew up and became a great missionary.  His parents sent him to Barcelona, to study under Jesuits.  The Jesuit influence rubbed of on Claver, who became a novice at Tarragona.  The order sent him to Palma, Majorca/Mallorca, where he was unsure about what his future should be.  St. Adolphus Rodriguez convinced the novice to ask to become a missionary to the New World.  Claver arrived in Cartagena (now in Colombia) in 1610.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez continued to live at Palma until he died, aged 87 years, on October 31, 1617.  He was 87 years old.  Pope Urban VIII declared Rodriguez a Venerable in 1626.  Pope Leo XII beatified him in 1825.

Claver spent the rest of his life in Cartagena, where he was the “Apostle to the Negroes.”  He was initially the assistant to Father Alphonsus de Sandoval, S.J., who ministered to recently arrived African slaves, still in slave pens, prior to auction.  Sandoval was a dedicated minister to slaves; Claver was more so.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1815, catechized and baptized more than 300,000 African slaves through 1650.  Against strong opposition from powerful people and much indifference from his superiors in Cartagena, Claver labored faithfully.  He could not end slavery, but he did what he could; he advocated for improved conditions on plantations, and succeeded.  Mostly he was present with and sympathetic to slaves.  Claver described himself as

the slave of the Negroes forever.

Claver, ill and unable to leave his room during the last four years of his life, endured the company of just one servant, who beat him frequently.  Our saint died in Cartagena on September 8, 1654.  Surprisingly, the Church gave him a grand funeral.

Pope Pius IX beatified Claver in 1851.

Pope Leo XIII canonized Claver and Rodriguez together in 1888.

Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, and Alphonsus Rodriguez enabled the productive ministry of St. Peter Claver.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH STEIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK AND MISSIONARY TO THE ALEUT

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF MARY SUMNER, FOUNDRESS OF THE MOTHERS’ UNION

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Francis Borgia, Saint Peter Faber, Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Saint Peter Claver,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 724

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2 responses to “Feast of Sts. Francis Borgia, Peter Faber, Alphonsus Rodriguez, and Peter Claver (September 9)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of St. Teresa of Avila (October 15) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Pingback: Feast of St. Teresa of Avila (October 15) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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