St. John-Francis Regis inspires us, ordinary as we are, to reach for sainthood. Not a martyr or a famed Doctor of the Church, this ordinary priest lived such a life of piety and humility in his quotidian life that he sets an example of how we can be fully present with Jesus in our own vocations.
Regis was born into a devout and wealthy family in the mid-1500s. He demonstrated piety and wisdom beyond his years even as a young boy and entered the Society of Jesus at age 20. He enjoyed the intense studies and teaching the Jesuits have always been known for, but additionally, he spent much time caring for victims of the plague.
John-Francis Regis's passion for evangelization took him all over France, preaching to the poor, the marginalized, the outcasts of society, particularly women trapped in prostitution (he taught them the art of lace-making so that they could support themselves financially). He died while hearing confessions, suffering from a lung disease.
The feast day of St. Regis is September 10, and he is the patron of Regis University, social workers, and lace makers.