Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Perfect Christian

In 1529, the Emperor Charles V himself arranged the marriage between Francisco de Borja y Aragon and Eleanor de Castray, with whom Francis would have eight children, while also raising him to the new rank of the Marquess of Lombay. Truly Francis had a bright future ahead of him. Yet, his life would change dramatically on the occasion of the death of the Empress on May 1, 1538. According to the legend, during the funeral procession, the wagon bearing the body of Isabella struck an obstacle that caused the casket to fall to the ground and burst open. The site of the putrefying corpse of the once great beauty awakened Francis to the transient nature of the world and moved him to tears. The famous painting of Moreno Carbonero, “The Conversion of the Duke of Gandia”, offers perhaps a more credible depiction of this decisive moment in the future Jesuit’s life. The painting depicts the dead empress, dressed in white, laid out in an open casket. One man covers his face, perhaps to block the stench, while the crowd of mourners looks on in grief. Francis weeps at the center of the scene, his tears washing away his illusions of grandeur and noble power. There is no doubt that the death of Isabella and the funeral sermon given by Blessed John of Avilla led Francis to a profound conversion. Though he had always been a man of piety, he now returned to his duties with the fervent desire to live “as a perfect Christian”, embracing his Christian vocation as a man seeking sanctity in the world.
Link (here) to read the full article by Fr. John Gavin, S.J. 

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