On August 25, the Church will celebrate the life of the great French monarch, St. Louis IX of France. He came to reign during the middle of the 13th century. His heroic faith and witness to the Church’s life and to Christ was started at a very early age due in part to one thing his mother had said and stayed with him the rest of his life. She had said that faith in Christ is the only thing this life is about and she would rather see him die than to commit a mortal sin against the God who loved him so much and deigned to give him the future role as king, a role that would mirror that of his maker.
St. Louis IX, although very wealthy and powerful, chose to use his vocation in life for the Glory of God and in service of promoting the faith that lead France to become one of the greatest Christian kingdoms of history. The title (Eldest Daughter of the Church) was given to France by the Holy Father in response to the work of great saints of France, including St. Louis IX, who fostered a sense of great devotion within his nation. During his reign, he fought to end the heresies of the time and, along with St. Dominic, fought against the Albigensians, who denied creation and the material world as a God-given gift.
He had strict penalties for those who used the name of God in vain and thus, ended blasphemies in his land. He proclaimed, “I would willingly have my own lips branded to root out blasphemy from my kingdom.” He was chosen as the arbitrator to help settle the feuds between the pope, Kind Henry III and his English barons. He raised up the Crusades to win the Holy Land of Christ back from those who would destroy the Christian shrines. In his own country, he restored the great shrine to St. Mary Magdalene and had her remains exhumed from Mount St. Baum. Having received the Crown of Thorns, he built the shrine, Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris to house the great relic which remains there to this day.
St. Louis was a man of virtue who prayed The Office and attended Mass twice daily. In August of 1270, he accompanied his soldiers on a crusade. After a victory in Tunis, he was overcome with fever and died after receiving Viaticum (last rites) while kneeling at his bed. Throughout his life, he remained a person of joy and Christian zeal.
In our age, we live in a world which the wealthy and powerful hoard their wealth and use their power for self-gain. It is St. Louis of France who teaches us that whether rich or poor, powerful or weak, we are to use the gifts given to us by God and our calling in life is to give Him the honor and glory that is His due. May the example and life of this great monarch never be forgotten, and may all nations of the world recognize Jesus Christ as True King and Sovereign of this world.
May God give you peace,