5. St. Francis Borgia, St. Louis University

St. Francis Borgia
St. Louis University, 1818

St. Louis, Missouri

Saint Francis Borgia (1510 – 1572) was born into one of the most illustrious Spanish families of his age in Valencia, Spain. He left his exalted position in the Spanish court to enter the Society of Jesus and eventually became General of the Order, based in Rome. In his role as a major administrator Francis was quite directive. He revised the rules of the young religious order and worked closely with the Pope, Pius V.

Here Francis is represented wearing the typical clothing of a priest of the times: a black cassock and biretta. In his left hand is an open book bearing the Latin words: “Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes” on one page, and on the other, “Baptisantes eos in nomine patris.” These words recall Christ’s injunction to his apostles before his Ascension, “Going out, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father.” While Francis was the General Superior, he sent many Jesuits to be founders of colleges throughout Europe and missionaries to the East, to South America and to all the lands discovered by Europeans in those times.

St. Francis’ right hand rests on his rosary, which Jesuits often wore as a sign of their devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Beneath his feet are a large over-turned coronet and a palace near a running stream, representing the rejection of his title as a duke in order to become a Jesuit.

In the center of the shield of Saint Louis University is the IHS emblem of the Society of Jesus, surrounded by a cross and three nails, resting on the breast of an American eagle which faces right to indicate the coming of the Jesuits to America and the welcome given to them by the United States. The eagle holds in one claw a cross and a sheaf of arrows, signifying the Jesuit purpose of bringing Christianity to the Indians; the other claw holds a laurel wreath symbolizing the teaching of the liberal arts. The inscription reads: Saint Louis University, Saint Louis; the foundation date is 1818. The school colors are blue and white.

Francis Borgia - St. Louis University