St John Francis Regis
Celebrated on July 2nd
Jesuit priest. St John was born in 1597, in Fontcouverte in south-eastern France and lived most of his life there. He worked as a teacher and priest through the plague years, tending the sick, visiting prisons, collecting food and clothing for the poor and setting up homes and work projects for the rehabilitation of prostitutes.
Throughout his priesthood John walked long distances, through difficult, mountainous regions. He longed to become a missionary in Canada but never left France. When he was 43, he had a premonition about his own death. After a three-day retreat, he went back to work in the village of Louvesc. He heard confessions, said Mass and preached through a very cold and snowy Christmas, after which he caught pneumonia. Shortly before he died he experienced a vision of heaven.
In a 1997 letter to the Bishop of Viviers, St John Paul II commemorated the fourth centenary of St John Francis Regis’ birth, honouring him as a “lofty figure of holiness” and an example for the Church in the modern world.