Louis was born on April 25, 1214. His father was King Louis VIII of France and his mother was Queen Blanche. The story is told that when Prince Louis was small, his mother hugged him tightly. She said, "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 ever to have you commit a mortal sin." Louis never forgot those words. He grew to cherish his Catholic faith and his upbringing. When he was twelve, his father died and he became the king. Queen Blanche ruled until her son was twenty-one.
Louis became a remarkable king. He married Margaret, the daughter of a count. They loved each other very much. They had eleven children. Louis was a good husband and father. And as long as his mother, Queen Blanche lived, he showed her full respect. Busy as he was, the king found time for daily Mass and the recitation of the Divine Office. He was a Third Order Franciscan and lived a simple lifestyle. He was generous and fair. He ruled his people with wisdom, charity and true Christian principles. There was no separation between what he believed as a Catholic and how he lived. He knew how to settle arguments and disputes. He listened to the poor and the underprivileged. He had time for everybody, not just the rich and influential. He supported Catholic education and built monasteries.
The historian, Joinville, wrote a biography of St. Louis. He recalls that he was twenty-two years in the king's service. He was daily in the king's company. And he could say that he never heard King Louis swear or use any kind of profanity in all those years. Nor did the king permit bad language in his castle.
St. Louis felt an urgent obligation to help the suffering Christians in the Holy Land. He wanted to be part of the Crusades. Twice he led an army against the Turks. The first time, he was taken prisoner. But even in jail, he behaved as a true Christian knight. He was unafraid and noble in all his ways. He was freed and returned to take care of his kingdom in France. Yet as soon as he could, he started back to fight the enemies of the faith again. On the way, however, this greatly loved king contracted typhoid fever. A few hours before he died, he prayed, "Lord, I will enter into your house, worship in your holy temple, and give glory to your name." St. Louis died on August 25, 1270. He was fifty-six years old. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.
Reflection: "Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can." - St. Louis