John Francis Regis

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Saint John Francis Regis
Saint John Regis (date unknown)
Born (1597-01-31)31 January 1597
Fontcouverte, Aude, France
Died 30 December 1640(1640-12-30) (aged 43)
Lalouvesc, Ardèche, France
Venerated in Catholic Church
Beatified 18 May 1716, Rome by Pope Clement XI
Canonized 5 April 1737, Rome by Pope Clement XII
Major shrine Lalouvesc, France
Feast 10 September; 16 June (on some local calendars)
Patronage Regis University, Regis High School, New York City, Regis Jesuit High School Aurora, CO lacemakers

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. His feast day is 16 June.


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.[1] 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.[2]

After finishing his course in rhetoric at Cahors, Regis was sent to teach grammar at several colleges: Billom (1619–22), Puy-en-Velay (1625–27), and Auch (1627–28). While he was teaching, he also pursued his studies in philosophy at the scholasticate at Tournon. Owing to an intense love of preaching and teaching the Faith, as well as the desire to save souls,[1] Regis began his study of theology at Toulouse in 1628. Less than two years later, in 1630, he was ordained a priest at 31. The following year, having completed his studies, Regis made his Third Probation.[3]

Regis was now fully prepared for his lifework and entered upon his apostolic career in the summer of 1631. John Francis Regis was a tireless worker who spent most of his life serving the marginalized.[4] 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.[5] Regis is best known for his work with at-risk women and orphans. He established safe houses and found jobs.[4] 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.[4]

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.[3] From 1633-40 he evangelized more than fifty districts in le Vivarais, le Forez, and le Velay.[1] 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.[3]

Regis's labors reaped a harvest of conversions. However, his boldness – perceived as arrogance in some cases – led to a conflict with certain other priests, a period of tension with the local bishop, and even threats of violence from those whose vices he condemned.[6] Although he longed to devote himself to the conversion of the indigenous inhabitants of Canada, he remained in France all his life.

Regis walked from town to town, in rough mountainous areas where travel was difficult, especially in the winter.[4] He succumbed to pneumonia at age forty-three on 31 December 1640,[7] at Lalouvesc (Ardèche), in France's Dauphiné region.

File:St.Martin-de-Valamas (Ardèche) statue St.François Régis.JPG
Statue of St.François Regis, St. Martin-de-Valamas, Ardèche


File:Regis altar n Le Puy cathedral.jpg
The altar dedicated to Saint John Francis Regis in the Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Puy

John Francis Regis was beatified by Pope Clement XI on 18 May 1716,[6] and canonized by Pope Clement XII on 5 April 1737.


John Francis Regis is the patron saint of lacemakers, medical social workers, and illegitimate children.[8]


In a 1997 letter to the Bishop of Viviers, Pope John Paul II commemorated the fourth centenary of St. John Francis Regis' birth, honoring him as a “lofty figure of holiness” and an example for the Church in the modern world.[6]

Today, Regis' name lives on across the world. There is a St. Regis Lake, Mount St. Regis, Regis High School (Manhattan and Denver), St. Regis Hotels, St. Regis apartments, and St. Regis swimming pools.[4]

Parishes are dedicated to St. John Francis Regis in Arnaudville, Louisiana;[9] Hollywood, Maryland;[10] and Kansas City, Missouri.[11]

Each year on the Feast Day of St. Regis, Regis University (Denver, Colorado) community celebrates Regis Day with an ice cream social and photo contest. At the 2012 celebration, over 400 people gathered for free root beer floats. Volunteers served over 18 gallons of root beer and 1,000 scoops of ice cream.[4]

The Regis Campus of Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview is named in his honor, as well as, numerous elementary and high schools worldwide, including Regis High School (New York City), Regis School of the Sacred Heart (Houston, Texas), Regis High School (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) and Regis Jesuit High School (Aurora, Colorado).

St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, where a Roman Catholic church named for him stands, is also named in his honor, due to his admiration for the native inhabitants of North America.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Van Ortroy, Francis. "St. John Francis Regis." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910". 1 October 1910. Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hoever, p. 229.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hoever, p. 230.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "A Tireless Saint from Southern France". Regis University, Denver, Colorado. Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "regisu" defined multiple times with different content
  5. Phyllis G. Jestice, Holy People of the World: A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia (2004), p. 164
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 ""St. John Francis Regis" Catholic News Agency". 16 June 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast". ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7. Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Justin Baker/Strive Creative. "St. John-Francis Regis, Patron". Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "St. John Francis Regis Catholic church, Arnaudville, Louisiana". Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "St. John's Parish, Hollywood, Maryland". Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "St. John Francis Regis Catholic Church, Kansas City, Missouri". Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. William C. Sturtevant Handbook of North American Indians 1978 p473 "It was named Saint Regis in memory of Jean Francois Regis, a French ecclesiastic canonized in 1737 who before his death in 1640 at the age of 43 had wanted to become a missionary to the Iroquois (Hough 1853:113-114)."