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June 16

St John Francis Regis - June 16

Saint John Francis Régis
Priest, Missionary
(1597 – 1640)

“We are created by God, and for him alone; and must direct all things to his glory.”

Saint John Francis Regis

His Early Life

Jean-François (John Francis) was born January 31, 1597, in Fontcouverte, Aude, in the Languedoc region of southern France. His father, Jean Régis, was a wealthy merchant and his mother, Marguerite de Cugunhan, was from a noble family. John was educated at the Jesuit College of Béziers.

Jesuit at 19

In December 1616, at the age of 19, John entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Toulouse, France and began to prepare for a priestly ministry that would save thousands of souls. After finishing his course in rhetoric at Cahors, John was sent to teach grammar at several colleges from 1619 to 1628: Billom, Puy-en-Velay, and Auch. While he was teaching, John also pursued his studies in philosophy at Tournon-sur-Rhône.

Noted for an intense love of preaching and teaching the Faith, as well as the desire to save souls, John began his study of theology at Toulouse in 1628. During his time studying theology his roommate became concerned he was spending much of his nights in prayer. So, his roommate approached his superior who said: “Don’t disturb his devotions. If I’m not greatly mistaken, this man is a saint”

Missionary Priest

Less than two years later, in 1630, John was ordained a priest at the age of 31. As a newly ordained priest, John worked with bubonic plague victims in Toulouse. Following his ordination, he worked as a missionary in numerous French towns preaching missions in rural areas, part of the great effort to re-Christianise Europe after the Council of Trent. His direct way of speaking and his manifest sincerity attracted people from every class of society. For the first two years from 1632 to 1634, John made the Jesuit College of Montpellier his center.

Converted and Helped Many

His homilies reflected his great fervor and zeal for the faith, appealing to people of all classes. John converted many Huguenots (French Protestants). He also provided for the social needs of those whom he ministered to spiritually. Using donations and volunteer workers, John set up a system of social services. He organized prison visitors, nurses, guardians of the poor, and a warehouse for the hungry.

John also concerned himself with rescuing women from prostitution. He helped the girls so they could earn an income for themselves as lacemakers and set up a a shelter for wayward women. John helped a group of country girls stay away from the cities by establishing them in the lacemaking and embroidery trade, for which he is a patron saint.

John established the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, which organized charitable collections of money and food from the wealthy.

Evangelist in 50+ French Districts

At the invitation of the local bishop in 1633, John went to the Diocese of Viviers giving missions throughout the diocese. From 1633-1640, John evangelized more than fifty districts in le Vivarais, le Forez, and le Velay where church structures had collapsed. He was able to speak to the people in their own dialect which won the people’s confidence

Slandered And Wanted to Transfer to Canada

At one point, there was a movement against John by some of his fellow Jesuits who felt his zealous “signs of simplicity and indiscretion” did not best showcase their order nor follow its teachings. However, John’s bishop recognized there was more jealousy than theology in the complaint and ignored it. John asked for transfer to Canada where he could preach without worries about the politics of the Order. But, he was ordered to continue his good works in the French countryside.

His Death

In mid-September 1640, John had a premonition of his death. He spent the next three days in retreat, made a general confession, and continued his mission to Lalouvesc, a remote mountain village. Thus, on a cold December day, he travelled to his last mission. Overtaken by a snowstorm, he slept that night in a wayside barn and developed pleurisy. The next day he continued his journey in great pain and discomfort.

They reached the village on Christmas Eve and travelled directly to the church, where John began to preach immediately without stopping to rest. He spent the whole of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without intermission conducting services, preaching, and giving counsel. Zealous to save souls, the following day John preached three times in the draughty church and contracted pneumonia. On leaving the pulpit the third time, John fainted. Four days later on December 31, 1640 in Lalouvesc, Ardeche, France at the age 43, John died. His last words were: “Jesus, my Savior, I recommend my soul to You.”

This French town became a great place of pilgrimage. It is even today a center which attracts many young people to the faith. It was on a visit to this place that the Curé of Ars, Saint John Vianney, became convinced of his own vocation and later wrote a life of John-Francis Regis and found in it an inspiration for his own.

 

Born :                   January 31, 1597 at Fontcouverte, Aude, Languedoc, France

Died:                    December 31, 1640 age 43 in Lalouvesc, Ardeche, France

Beatified:            May 18, 1716 by Pope Clement XI

Canonized:         April 5, 1737 by Pope Clement XII

Feast Day:          June 16

Patron Saint:     Embroiders; French Jesuits; Lacemakers; Medical Social Workers

Source:

Reflection 

Saint John Francis Regis was a Jesuit priest known for his tireless missionary work. From prison visits to creating a warehouse for the hungry, John was dedicated to serving the poor and marginalized. He helped girls so they could earn an income for themselves as lacemakers and set up a a shelter for wayward women. John lived a life of mission, service, simplicity, and deep spirituality with his commitmment to Christ through his compassion for others.

What acts of charity and service can you reach out to those in need today, embodying Christ’s love for the least among us?

Prayers

St. John Francis Regis,

You who dedicated your life to the service of the poor and marginalized as a faithful servant of Christ and tireless missionary, we seek your intercession.

Inspire in us a missionary zeal, that we may boldly share the Gospel and bring the love of Christ to all those we encounter.

Help us to cultivate a heart of compassion for the poor and needy, following your example of selfless service and humility.

Bless our families and foster an atmosphere of love and unity, that they may become sanctuaries of faith and joy.

Grant us the grace to find joy in sacrificial service, following your example of selfless dedication for the well-being of others.

St. John Francis Regis, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – The saint who risked his life rescuing prostitutes

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 22 June – Saint John Fisher (1469-1535) Bishop, Martyr

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. June 16 St. John Francis Regis of the Society of Jesus, Confessor

Catholic Exchange – St. John Francis Regis, SJ

Catholic Lane – St. John Francis Regis

Catholic News Agency – St. John Francis Regis Feast day: Jun 16

Catholic Online – St. John Fisher

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – John Fisher of Rochester – by Katherine I Rabenstein

Franciscan Media – Saint John Francis Regis

Independent Catholic News – St John Regis

Jesuits – Saint John Francis Regis

New Advent – Van Ortroy, F. (1910). St. John Francis Regis. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Office of Ignatian Spirituality

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint John Francis Regis’ Story

Sanctoral – Saint John Francis Regis Jesuit missionary (1597-1640)

uCatholic – Saint John Francis Regis

Video Link

Cradio Saint of the Day: Saint John Francis Regis – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)