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Aug 25 - St. Louis IX, King of France 1215-1270
Patron of the Secular Franciscan Order King St. Louis was born in the castle at Poissy near Paris on April 25, 1215. His devout mother, Blanche, was determined that he should be educated not only for the earthly kingdom he was to govern, but still more for the kingdom of heaven. She accustomed him to look upon all things in the light of faith, and thus laid the foundation for that humility in good fortune and endurance in misfortune which characterized the holy king. Louis was crowned king when he was only 12 years old. His mother, however, was entrusted with the actual government of the kingdom during his minority. Meanwhile, Louis was being educated in all the duties of a Christian prince. Among his instructors there were several Franciscan friars, and later on the young king himself joined the Third Order of St. Francis. Louis had governed his kingdom for several years in his own name, when he vowed, in the course of a serious illness, that if he would recover, he would make a crusade to the Holy Land, to wrest the holy places from the hands of the infidels. Upon regaining his health he at once carried out his vow. He took the fortress of Damietta from the Saracens, but was taken captive after his army had been weakened by an epidemic. After he had borne the sufferings of a prisoner of the infidels for several months with holy serenity, the terms for his release were submitted to him; but there was attached to these terms an oath, that if he did not fulfill them, he would deny Christ and the Christian religion. The holy king replied: "Such blasphemous words shall never cross my lips." They threatened him with death. "Very well," he said, "you may kill my body, but you will never kill my soul." Filled with admiration at his steadfast courage, the finally released him without objectionable condition. After securing many other terms favorable to the Christians, he was obliged to return to France, since his mother had died in the meantime. In the government of his kingdom, Louis proved how profitable piety is in every respect. He promoted the welfare of the country and his people in a remarkable manner. His life as a Christian and as a Christian father was so exemplary that he has been found worthy to be chosen as the patron and model of Tertiaries. The most important principal of his life was the observance of the laws of God under all circumstances. His biographer assures us that he never lost his baptismal innocence by mortal sin. He himself set such store by the grace of baptism that, in confidential letters, he took pleasure in signing himself "Louis of Poissy," because it was in the parish church there that he had been baptized. Louis never tolerated cursing or sinful conversation either among the servants or among the courtiers; and never was he heard to utter an unkind or impatient word. he wished to avoid all unnecessary pomp and luxury at court, so that more help could be rendered to the poor, of whom he personally fed and served several hundred. His wardrobe was as simple as it could fittingly be, and at all times he wore the insignia of the Third Order under his outer garments. On special occasions he publicly wore the habit of the Tertiaries. In order to curb sensuality he not only observed all the fasts of the Church with unusual severity, but denied himself certain food for which he had a special craving. He was a most solicitous father to the 11 children with which God blessed his marriage. He himself prayed with them daily, examined them in the lessons they had learned, guided them in the performance of the works of Christian charity, and in his will bequeathed to them the most beautiful instructions. He fostered special devotion to the sufferings of Christ; and it was a great consolation for him when he gained possession of the Crown of Thorns, for the preservation of which he had the magnificent Holy Chapel built in Paris. When serious complaints concerning the oppression of the Christians in the Holy Land reached his ears, he undertook a second crusade in 1270, but on the way he died of the plague, contracted while visiting his sick soldiers. Amid exclamations of holy joy because he was going into the house of the Lord, he surrendered his soul to God on August 25. St. Louis was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297.
MORTAL SIN IS THE GREATEST EVIL 1. "Death rather than a mortal sin!" St. Louis frequently said these words when he recalled what his mother had told him. He was right, because mortal sin is worse than death. It is the greatest evil in the world because it means the loss of the greatest good, which is God Himself. He who commits a mortal sin, that is, violates one of God's commandments in an important matter with full knowledge and free consent, even if it be only in thought, hears God's threaten him with His displeasure, and still he says: "I will not obey." He separates himself from God, falls from grace, and is changed from an object of the love of God, into an object of hatred: "The Highest hates sinners" (Eccli 12:7). -- Can we think of a greater evil than this? 2. Consider how King St. Louis actually carried out the greatest principle of his life in his conduct. He preferred to remain a prisoner of the Saracens, which included loss of his kingdom and even his own life, rather than take a blasphemous oath. No material loss can compare with the loss of God, whereas every temporal suffering is quite bearable if we remain in the grace of God; in fact, it becomes sweet if we bear it because we do not want to offend God. But to offend God in order to escape material suffering means to cast oneself into the greatest suffering. "Your apostasy shall rebuke you, and you shall know and see that it is an evil and bitter thing for you to have left the Lord, your God" (Jer 2:19). -- Therefore, say frequently: "Death rather than mortal sin!" 3. Consider that St. Louis could not have been happy in the possession of his kingdom if he had been obliged to reclaim it by a blasphemous oath. Can a Christian enjoy temporal goods and honors if he must admit that his claim to them was bought at the price of mortal sin? Can he really accept them while he is confronted with the outlook that the next moment can cast him into eternal hell fire? No more than Damocles could enjoy the grand banquet when he saw over his head a drawn sword suspended by a hair. Surely it is better to die with St. Louis in a strange country among the plague-stricken, and to make the sacrifice of one's life in the practice of charity.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH O God, who didst transport St. Louis, Thy confessor, from an earthly kingdom into the bliss of the Kingdom of heaven,
we beseech Thee, grant us through his merits and intercession to be made associates of the King of Kings, Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
from THE FRANCISCAN BOOK OF SAINTS edited by Marion Habig, ofm Copyright 1959 Franciscan Herald Press Used with Permission
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs