Today, June 16, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint John Francis Regis* (1597-1640), French Jesuit, gifted preacher, tireless confessor, and miracle worker.
John Francis was raised in a wealthy noble Catholic family. From an early age, he demonstrated an affinity for holy pursuits, praying and fasting as a child.
When he reached the age of 18, by his request, John Francis was sent to study with the Jesuits at the Jesuit college and one year later became a member of the Society of Jesus at Toulouse. He was ordained in 1630. Despite a plain desire to travel to the new world and minister to the native peoples there, Saint John Francis was retained in Toulouse to minister to victims of the plague.
Saint John Francis engaged in many charitable works with the poor of Toulouse. Through his ministry, many were converted to Christianity, leading the rector to write to the Superior of the Jesuits, “Everybody agrees that Father Regis has a marvellous talent for the Missions.” Based upon that recommendation, Saint John Francis was sent to the mission lands of France, where he converted many through his preaching and example of virtuous Christian living.
When not preaching, Saint John Francis engaged in continuous charitable work, for the improvement of many. He established hostels for prostitutes who wished to reform and leave the business, whom he referred to as “Daughters of Refuge.” To the wealthier members of his Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament, he offered the “gift” of a few hungry mouths to feed.
Numerous miracles were reported through his intercession, even while alive, including the healing of a poor widow’s sons after she generously volunteered to mend his ragged cloak during a freezing winter.
While engaged in missionary work in mountain villages developed pleurisy and then pneumonia and died. His relics were interred at Louvesc in the mountains, and remains a site of pilgrimage for the faithful. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.
*Saint John Francis Regis, pray for us.*