Saint Louis-Confessor, King of France
Feast Day: August 25
St. Louis IX is the eldest son of Louis VIII of Capet Line, and his mother, Queen Blanche, daughter of King Alfonso of Castile and Eleanor of England. He was born on April 5, 1214 at Poissy in the Siene, a little below Paris. His mother devoted herself to her children’s education which attributed to his virtue. His tutors made him master of Latin, public speaking and how to write with dignity and grace. He was instructed in the government and arts of ward and all other kingly accomplishments. Religion was the primary concern of his parents for him. His mother often used to say to him as he was growing up, “I love you my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child; but I would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should commit a mortal sin.”
Louis never forgot his upbringing. Sieur de Joinville, his friend and biographer, went with him to Holy Land for his first crusade. His friend relates that the king once asked him, “What is God?” Joinville answered, “Sire, it is that which is so good that there can be nothing better.” Louis asked again, “Now tell me, would you rather be a leper or commit mortal sin?” The friend replied, “I would rather commit thirty mortal sins than be a leper.” Louis opposed strongly: “When a man dies, he is healed of leprosy in his body, but when a man who has committed a mortal sin dies he cannot know for certain that he has in his lifetime repented in such a way that God has forgiven him.”
His father, Louis VIII, died after reigning only for three years. Because of the uprising of restless nobles, Louis was crowned at Rheims on Advent 1226. At the age of twenty, Louis married Margaret, the oldest daughter of Raymond Beranger, Count of Provence in May 1234. They had fives sons and six daughters.
Louis helped his mother found the convent of Maubuison and gave the religious orders the encouragement to install the Carthusians in the place of Vauvert in Paris. He heard two masses daily, loved sermons and surrounded by priests chanting the hours while traveling. He did not hesitate to oppose churchmen when they proved unworthy. His friend writes, “Never once did I hear him swear, either by God, or His Mother, or His Saints. I did not even hear him name the devil, except if he met when reading aloud or when discussing what had been read.”
In 1230 the King forbade all kinds of usury, protected vassals and tenants from cruel lords. He fined the guilty party heavily and ordered the money spent on religious and charitable works.
He went to two crusades with his wife, brothers and children to spread Christian faith. In one of his crusades he was once captured and put to prison. During his stay in prison, the King recited Divine Office everyday with two chaplains and mass prayers were read to him.
Louis helped endow the famous college of theology founded by his friend, Master Robert de Sorgon in 1257. He himself founded Quinze-vingt hospital of Parish which bed 300 patients.
On July 1, 1270 Louis sailed with his forces to Tunis. He was told that the emir was ready to be converted and join the expedition to win back Holy Places. The crusade was as failure because the emir’s information was false. During his stay there, Louis and his eldest son got sick of dysentery. Louis was not able to recover and at three in the afternoon he said, “Into Thy Hands I commend my spirit” and he died. His bones and heart were kept in the Abbey-Church of St. Denis in France until they were scattered at the time of revolution. He became Saint of the Church in 1297, twenty-seven years after his death.