When he was crowned king of France in 1226, St. Louis—whose feast day we celebrated last month—took an oath to act as God’s anointed, as father of his people. He was crowned king at age 12 following his father’s death. When Louis was 19, he married Margaret of Provence. Despite Margaret’s restless nature, they had a loving marriage and produced 11 children.
He was so devoted to his Catholic faith that he built Sainte-Chappelle, or the “Holy Chapel,” within the royal palace.
A Crusader and Servant of the Poor
Louis “took the cross” for a crusade when he was 30. Though admired as a crusader, he deserves greater credit for extending justice during his reign. Louis was always devoted to his people—founding hospitals, visiting the sick, and, like his patron, St. Francis of Assisi, caring for people with leprosy.
A Man of God
St. Louis was a founder of the Secular Franciscan Order. He also united France, as well as lords and townsfolk, by force of his personality and holiness. For many years, the nation was at peace.
Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, St. Louis led another Crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. However, the army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.
Personal Qualities of St. Louis
Although Louis could be a strong-willed man, his word was trusted completely, and his courage was remarkable. What was more awesome was his respect for everyone with whom he dealt, especially the “humble folks of the Lord.”
To care for his people, Louis built cathedrals, churches, libraries, hospitals, and orphanages. He dealt with princes honestly and equitably. He hoped to be treated the same way by the “King of Kings,” to whom he gave his life, his family, and his country.
To add a final note, Louis welcomed 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him every day, and large numbers were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, many hungry people received free meals, and Louis often served them in person.
May we all show the same care and concern for the poor as this great saint did!
Dear Father Jim: Thanks so much for your E-spiration. I really needed to read that! I was feeling a little down. When I read it, I thought of my parents who loved me unconditionally. Then I thought of my husband of almost 50 years who loves me in spite of my faults. And, of course, Jesus who loves me like no other. Carol
A: Dear Carol: What you said is really true. Sometimes, in difficult moments, if we remind ourselves of what is truly significant and powerful in our lives, like love itself, we may find ourselves stronger than we imagine. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you for your inspiring words. Love is such a wonderful and deep emotion, though most times it is misused or misunderstood. Margie
A: Dear Margie: You make a good point. No matter how much power, wealth, or prestige we see around us, the poorest person in the world who loves is richer than many who might pity him. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you so much for the very touching article on the power of love. I am a mother and I have such a deep love for my children. I am so thankful that the Lord loves me that way, too. What a blessing! Keep up the good work with your wonderful E-spirations! Eunice
A: Dear Eunice: I really do believe that God made mothers and their gift of loving so that we could experience what God’s love for us is. Friar Jim