Today is the Feast of Saint Louis IX (1214 – 1270), the only King of France to be canonized as a saint. Happy feast day! History records Saint Louis as lovable personality, a kind husband, a friend of the poor, a father of eleven children, and at the same time a strict ascetic. The Chancellor of the Diocese of Lansing, Michael Andrews, now explains why he so admires the life and legacy of the saintly French king:
“Today marks the 750th anniversary of the passing of Saint Louis IX of France into eternal life. He has long been honored as an exemplary ruler, an outstanding husband and father of eleven children – whom he educated in an excellent and pious way, a fearless warrior, and a great champion of the faith. G.K. Chesterton observed that Saint Louis ‘was a man in whom holiness and healthiness had no quarrel’.”
“Contemporary witnesses confirm that Louis’ life was anchored by his devout and daily participation in Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. His was a life of prayer and fasting, combined with simplicity of life. An early biographer said Saint Louis’ strong faith and his good works were like the two arms with which he held on firmly to God.”
“His love for God compelled him to protect the weakest and most vulnerable in society: orphans, widows, and the needy. He often visited the sick and served them himself. He liberated Christians in the Holy Land from enslavement, and he converted many of their captors to the faith of Christ. As King of France he reformed the judicial system, reviving the principle that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. He upheld the rights and dignity of the Church and was a great friend of religious orders. He built monasteries and hospitals for the destitute. Among his lasting works today is Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, which he commissioned to house relics of the Lord’s Passion.”
“Both in peacetime and during times of war for the defense of Christians, Saint Louis distinguished himself by his active faith, his justice in government, his love for the poor and his patience in adverse situations. His was an extraordinarily happy Christian marriage and a family blessed with many children. When he died, either from the plague or dysentery, encamped at Tunis on the coast of North Africa on his way to liberate the Holy Land, he turned his thoughts heavenward, making his own the words of the psalmist: ‘I will enter Thy house; I will worship in Thy holy temple and sing praises to Thy name’.”
As the Collect Prayer at today’s Holy Mass prays: “O God, who brought Saint Louis from the cares of earthly rule to the glory of a heavenly realm, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, by fulfilling our duties on earth, we may seek out your eternal Kingdom. 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.”
Have a happy and holy feast day! Saint Louis, pray for us!