Francis Borgia was a Spanish duke of the 16th century who, upon reaching middle age, abandoned his position to devote himself to the church. Whether as nobleman or Jesuit, he was known to be dignified — perhaps in quiet defiance of his great-grandfather, Pope Alexander VI, who had flaunted his vow of chastity to father a number of children.
Borgia’s own thrills were experienced vicariously. He was a formative counsel to Teresa of Ávila, back when she an unknown nun ashamed of the erotic, self-obliterating raptures she seemed to be conjuring through meditation and prayer. “He told me that I was being led by the Spirit of God and that he thought I should not be doing right to resist Him further,” the great mystic later wrote. “He said if the Lord should transport my spirit, I should allow His Majesty to have it and make no effort to keep it back.”