SAINT LOUIS IX (1215-1270), king of France, holy man – Patron saint of construction workers, brick masons, prisoners, the sick and parents of large families
Today, the Church honors Saint Louis IX, who was a great lover of justice and renowned for his charity towards the poor, sick and hungry.
Louis was born in 1215 in Poissy, France to King Louis VIII and his wife, Blanche of Castile. He was eleven years of age when the death of his father made him king, and nineteen when he married Marguerite of Provence, by whom he had eleven children.
Louis led an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother’s words, “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.” His biographers wrote of how the king would spend long hours in prayer, fasting and penance, without the knowledge of his people.
As one who truly embraced the concept of fair and equitable justice, he took great measures to ensure that the process of arbitration between feuding parties was carried out properly. As a result, all of 13th century Christian Europe willingly looked upon him as an international judge and peacemaker.
King Louis IX made numerous judicial and legislative reforms, promoted Christianity in France, established religious foundations and aided mendicant Religious Orders which depended solely upon alms for their survival. He also promulgated various decrees of the Church, built leper hospitals, and collected relics of various saints for veneration by the faithful.
He was also known for his extreme charity. He was once quoted as saying, “The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor.” Beggars were fed from his table; he washed their feet, ministered to the needs of lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor – oftentimes serving them personally.
Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, King Louis led what is considered a minor crusade in the year 1270 at the age of fifty-five. His crusade was diverted to Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, and it is there that, within one month, his army was decimated by dysentery. King Louis himself died outside of the walls of the city from the same disease on August 25th in the same year.
Before his death, it was recorded that the last instruction King Louis gave to his eldest son was, “Listen to the services of Holy Church devoutly…and pray to God with your heart and with your lips, and especially at Mass when the Consecration takes place.”
He was canonized a saint in 1297 by Pope Boniface VIII.
We commemorate his feastday on August 25.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Louis IX of France)
“Father, You raised Saint Louis from the cares of Earthly rule to the glory of Your Heavenly Kingdom. By the help of his prayers, may we come to Your Eternal Kingdom by our work here on Earth.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”