Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Today, August 25, is the optional memorial of St. Louis IX (1215-1270).
Louis IX, King of France, son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile, was born at Poissy, April 25, 1215. Louis was twelve years old when his father's death made him king.At that time, his mother Queen Blanche of Castile, was declared regent and remained an important influence throughout his life.
Louis had tutors who made him a master of Latin, taught him to speak easily in public and write with dignity and grace. But Blanche's primary concern was to implant in him a deep regard and awe for everything related to religion. She used often 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."
At nineteen, he married Marguerite of Provence and the couple had eleven children. Louis was a model father and his children received careful instruction from him in the Christian life.
Louis brought justice to France. When, for example, a baron hanged three students for poaching rabbits, the King's response was firm. He forced the Baron to surrender his forest, imprisoned him for a time, fined him heavily, made him build a chapel in memory of each student, and ordered him to crusade for three years in Palestine.
On one occasion, Louis learned of a count who had hanged three children for hunting rabbits in his woods. Louis had the count put in prison and when the count insisted that other nobles act as his judges, Louis refused. So the count stood before conventional judges who condemned him to death. However, Louis wasn't finished. He changed the death sentence to a fine so large that it took most of the count's possessions. Then he ordered the fine to be used for charity.
Louis was a loving and generous king. The poorest of the poor were recipients of his charity and alms everyday. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, and ministered to the needs of the lepers. Daily, he fed 120 poor people. He founded many hospitals and houses: the House of the Felles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes; the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men (1254), and hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, Compiégne.
Louis was a faithful Christian sovereign. One of his first acts as King was to build the famous monastery of Royaumont, with funds left for the purpose by his father. Louis gave encouragement to the religious orders, placing the Carthusians in the palace of Vauvert in Paris, and assisting his mother in founding the convent of Maubuisson.
Louis led an exemplary life, secretly spending long hours in prayer, fasting, and penance. He attended Holy Mass twice daily, and was surrounded, even while traveling, with priests chanting the hours.
Louis died near Tunis, August 25, 1270 and was canonized in Orvieto in 1297, by Boniface VIII.
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