Louis, King of France

To the Tomb of Louis IXTwo years ago I made a sacred pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Louis, King of France. It was fraught with both ignorance and wonder.

I’m intent on writing about that, but I’ve become convinced that tonight my computer is possessed and needs a thorough healing. Either that or I’ve got too many image files stored on it, and it needs a thorough cleaning, which is entirely posible.

Here are several things about St. Louis, culled around the net, which help to provide some insight into the remarkable man that he was.

  • He was eleven years of age when the death of Louis VIII made him king, and nineteen when he married Marguerite of Provence by whom he had eleven children.
  • Saint Louis used to genuflect during the Nicene Creed to show reverence to the incarnation of Christ. The king’s practice became widespread and is now observed in the universal Church. It’s why we bow during the line of the Creed “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary , and became man.” In the Christmas season we, too, genuflect.
  • Louis’ was a great patron of the arts, and that drove innovation in Gothic art and architecture. The style of his court radiated throughout Europe in the purchase of art objects from Parisian masters for export, and by the marriage of the king’s daughters and female relatives to foreign husbands and their subsequent introduction of Parisian models elsewhere.
  • St. 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 have told us of the long hours he spent in prayer, fasting, and penance, without the knowledge of his subjects.
  • He was renowned for his charity. The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor he would say. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor.
  • He is the only canonized king of France.
  • His tomb at Saint-Denis was a magnificent gilt brass monument designed in the late 14th century. It was melted down during the French Wars of Religion, at which time the body of the king disappeared. Only one finger was rescued and is kept at Saint-Denis.
  • The Sainte Chappelle, an architectural gem, was constructed in his reign, and it was under his patronage that Robert of Sorbonne founded the “Collège de la Sorbonne,” which became the seat of the theological faculty of Paris.

He left a legacy as an exemplary King in Christendom, and was admired by almost everyone. France became a pre-eminent power in Europe militarily, financially and culturally. Napoleon said of him that he was the only king of France worthy of the title.

Louis IX considered himself, “God’s lieutenant on Earth”; he took that seriously and prayerfully, and left behind a wonderful legacy for the world to follow.