St. John Francis Regis

January 31, 1597 - December 31, 1640


JESUIT EVANGELIST AND PREACHER

Jean-François Régis, known as Saint John Francis Regis and St. Regis, (31 January 1597 – 31 December 1640), was a French priest of the Society of Jesus, recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Jean-François Régis was born 31 January 1597, in Fontcouverte, Aude, in the Languedoc region of southern France. His father, Jean Régis, had recently been ennobled as a result of service rendered during the Wars of the League. His mother, Marguerite de Cugunhan, was of a noble family. He was educated at the Jesuit College of Béziers. On 8 December 1616, in his nineteenth year, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Toulouse and he took his vows two years later.

John Francis Regis was a tireless worker who spent most of his life serving the marginalized. As a newly ordained priest, he worked with bubonic plague victims in Toulouse. From May 1632, until September 1634, his headquarters was at the Jesuit College of Montpellier. Here he labored for the conversion of the Huguenots, visited hospitals, assisted the needy, withdrew from vice wayward women and girls, and preached Catholic doctrine with tireless zeal to children and the poor. Regis is best known for his work with at-risk women and orphans. He established safe houses and found jobs for them. Regis established the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, which organized charitable collections of money and food from the wealthy. He also established several hostels for prostitutes, and helped many become trained lace makers, which provided them with a stable income, and an opportunity to maintain their humanity under the threat of exploitation.

In 1633, Regis went to the Diocese of Viviers at the invitation of the local bishop, Monsignor Louis II de la Baume de Suze, giving missions throughout the diocese. From 1633-40 he evangelized more than fifty districts in le Vivarais, le Forez, and le Velay. Regis laboured diligently on behalf of both priests and laymen. His preaching style was said to have been simple and direct. He appealed to the uneducated peasantry and numerous conversions resulted

Regis walked from town to town, in rough mountainous areas where travel was difficult, especially in the winter. He succumbed to pneumonia at age forty-three on 31 December 1640, at Lalouvesc (Ardèche), in France's Dauphiné region.

John Francis Regis was beatified by Pope Clement XI on 18 May 1716, and canonized by Pope Clement XII on 5 April 1737.

Regis House Archives - 2018



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