A17th century bronze sculpture.
Saint Francis of Borgia.
Dimensions: 12 cm high.
Sculpture in the round, baroque style, made entirely in gilded bronze, representing Saint Francis of Borgia, dressed in a tunic and a mantle, holding in his hands a monstrance and a book on which rests a crowned skull. It is a closed and monumental composition, the volume of which is enhanced by the large chiaroscuro folds, typically baroque, of the coat worn by the character. Naturalism in the position of the saint also stands out, endowed with a gentle movement, balanced and not very pronounced but which breaks with the rigidity that usually weighs on this type of representation.
François de Borgia (in Spanish: Francisco de Borja y Trastámara), duke of Gandia, great of Spain, was born in Gandia, in the kingdom of Valencia (Spain), on October 28, 1510. He was the son of Juan Borgia, the 3rd Duke of Gandia, and Joan of Aragon, daughter of Alfonso d'Aragon (1470-1520); Francis was also great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI.
He could hardly articulate a few words when his pious mother taught him to pronounce the sacred names of Jesus and Mary. Five years old, he remembered with marvelous memory the sermons, the tone, the gestures of the preachers, and repeated them in his family with a touching anointing. Although his youth was spent in society, at the court of Charles V, and in the profession of arms, his life was very pure and entirely Christian; he even cared little for the honors to which his great name and his merits had called him.
At twenty-eight, he was struck by the sight of the disfigured corpse of the Empress Isabella so much that he said to himself: "Francois, this is what you will soon be ... What will the grandeur of the earth be of use to you? … ”
However, yielding to the emperor's entreaties, who made him his first advisor, he did not leave the world until the death of his wife, Eleanor de Castro. He was thirty-six; he still had to spend four years in the century, in order to provide for the needs of his eight children.
Francis of Borgia was worthy of his master Saint Ignatius; all his praise is in this word. Humility was the dominant virtue of this prince clothed in the livery of the poor of Christ. On several occasions, the Pope wanted to appoint him Cardinal; for the first time he escaped by flight; another time, St. Ignatius warded off the danger.
The more the humble religious stooped, the more honors sought him. The one who signed all his letters with these words: Francis, sinner; he who only read letters from his superiors on his knees became the third general of the Society of Jesus. Francis of Borgia died in Rome at the age of 62 on September 30, 1572 and was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X (Emilio Altieri, 1670-1676).
Its most distinctive iconographic elements are the skull (sometimes crowned), a memory of his fear and the cause of his change of life when he discovered the decomposition of the Empress Isabelle of Portugal when she was about to deliver her corpse to Granada; the ducal crowns on the ground, a sign of his renunciation of all that is earthly; and the mitres and cardinal hats also rejected by him. Likewise, he is generally represented with a serene face, with a deep expression, a reflection of his interior. Another feature of his iconography is the monstrance, which represents his defense of the Eucharist.