The Young King

Today the church honors Saint Louis, the 13th Century King of France (not “The Gateway to the West”).

Now, before you ask, this is Louis the IX, not that other famous Louis of ill-repute.

In fact, Louis the IX was of quite upstanding repute, despite his involvement in the Crusades. Crowned at the age of 12, this young king expressed that he’d rather have joined a cloister than been royalty. He was loveable, a kind husband, and a doting father.

He also had a heightened sense of piety, often wearing shoes without soles as a sort of perpetual penance.

Oh, and he also would not allow cursing in his presence, which automatically makes me admire him and also makes me quite sure we would have never been friends.

St. Louis attended worship religiously (get it?), and was quite generous with his money, both publicly and privately.

In leading one of the Crusades in 1250 he was taken prisoner, and returned to France six years later. After mobilizing another army, he sailed again for North Africa in 1270 and, after much difficulty, died of dysentery in Tunis with a very “Oregon Trail” sort of ending. He’s buried in the basilica of St. Denis near Paris.

In iconography he’s often depicted with a crown of thorns, both because it was one of the relics he worked hard in his life to recover, and also as an homage to the humble way in which he conducted himself.

St. Louis is a reminder to me, and to the church, that power does not always corrupt and crush the human soul. Indeed, if we all are remembered as “loveable, kind, and doting,” well, we’ve done alright, right?

-historical bits from Pfatteicher’s _New Book of Festivals & Commemorations, and the icon is by “Theophilia” of deviantart.com

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