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St. John Francis Regis (1597-1640)

St. John Francis RegisToday, June 16th, the universal Church honors St. John Francis Regis, an incredible Jesuit preacher and missionary in France.

John was born into a wealthy family, educated by Jesuit priests. He so loved the education he received, as well as the examples he received from his teachers, that he entered the Jesuit Order when he reached 18 years of age. He was an excellent student, but more importantly, spent much time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. After he was ordained a Jesuit priest, he served as a missionary to many French towns. He spoke plainly and boldly about the Gospel, and because of his enthusiasm and holiness, attracted many individuals who desired to listen to him. Father John always welcomed the poor and those less fortunate, wherein Father John spent a great deal of time in the Confessional and offering Mass, as well as visiting prisons and hospitals.

Of course, the Reformation was in full swing, with civil and religious strife being present throughout France. The Bishop of Viviers sent Father John throughout the Diocese, and for three years, he preached the Catholic Faith and administered the Sacraments to people. He converted many individuals and brought many other people back to their Catholic Faith so that they could worship through Mass and receive the Sacraments.

Father John desired very much to work amongst the North American Indians in Canada, but he was not assigned to this missionary purpose. Instead, he served the French people in many areas, including very remote and wild areas, enduring terrible winters and other extreme hardships. The people loved him and called him a living saint.

Father John spent the last years of his life serving the poor, the sick and imprisoned, as well as preaching to the French people. On December 31, 1640, Father John gave his last words, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and then he died. He was canonized in 1737.

Thank you St. John for your incredible example of loving the Triune God and His people. It was your example of fervor, faith, courage and pure love that inspired and helped the people of God. May we have that same fervor and love that you had, so that we may serve God with our entire being as you did. St. John Regis, pray for us!

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