The Catholic Defender: St. Louis IX of France
Matthew 19:23-24 States, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” It's not having power or being rich that Jesus is making any judgments but Jesus is addressing the love of it. The lamp of the body is the eye, the window of the soul. If your eye is sound, the whole body will be enlightened and your soul pure.
The grass roots of any organization is the real power source that lifts up those with privilege. That is the democratic way of doing business, unfortunately, many of those we lift up are not pure of soul nor having eyes that lights their way. Many of them become corrupt which brings down those who sent them into these powerful positions.
Some are born into it and through their development, many times they become corrupted by the love of money and power that they have. This is why many people have little regard for the wealthy. Once in a while a great man appears on the scene that becomes the ideal Christian leader. One of those great ones was St. Louis IX, King of France.
On 25 April 1214 was the son of Louis the Lion and Blanche of Castle born at Poissy, near Paris. St. Louis was one born in royalty, his grandfather, Philip II, was king of France coming from his father's side of the family. On his mother's side was the King of Castile, Alfonso VIII. Important heritage as this is, the most important King of all, Louis to baptized at the La Collegiale Notre Dame church. When Philip II died, St. Louis father became King Louis VIII when he was 9 years old so you can see the early years of St. Louis, he was truly raised in royalty. St. Louis father died on November 8, 1226 when he was just 12 years old.
St. Louis was being taught being groom to be a king one day. He was becoming fluent in Latin, speaking in public, the military and how to run a government. Amazing for a 12 year old who was crowned king at Reims Cathedral just a month later.
His Mother, Blanche of Castle, served as regent until St. Louis came of age. She was responsible teaching him the Catholic faith and applying this to being a good leader. She was ensuring that St. Louis had a sound eye and a pure soul. She told her son:
"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 that you should ever commit a mortal sin."
Like in Old Testament times, the Queen Mother was seen as a co-rule between St. Louis and his mother, but by 1234, his mother took the petitioning/advisory role. As Queen Mother, she would always have a strong influence
with her son until she died in 1252. How St. Louis and his mother loved the Holy Family. At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Reminds me of King David, such was his religious foundations. He had the Light of faith he brought in a period of peace and justice throughout the land.
Because of his outward religious fervor, he was know in some circles as "monk king". As king, he enforced a strong Catholic presence throughout all France making blasphemy a crime and some might of lost a tongue. How things have changed today when vulgar speech is everywhere.
St. Louis led a Crusade for the sake of the cause of Christ when he was 30 years old. Through his leadership, the Crusaders were successful taking Damietta Egypt but because his logistics failed him having no support, he was captured. St. Louis was able to obtain release of his Soldiers for returning Damietta to the Muslims. He was exiled in Syria for four years. During this time he was among many who suffered weakened by dysentery. He didn't have what we had in Saudi Arabia when many of our Soldiers suffered from Dysentery because of our medical support. We had many IV's during Operation Desert Shield.
St. Louis worked to develop a healthy court system that replaced the trial by battle that had been the way to settle disputes. During his reign, he served France as king through the time of seven Popes whom St. Louis recognized with high regard because of their office of the Keys given to St. Peter. He did refuse to support Pope Innocent IV's sentence against Emperor Frederick II.
Frederick's first issue began On 29 September 1227 when he was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX for failing to honor his crusading pledge. This was something that Frederick was possible not capable of but he was capable to send Muslim Saracens against Assisi who were thwarted by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist through St. Clair's bold appearance before the invaders.
St. Louis as King was devoted to Our Lord and through this devotion, cared for the people of France, he visited the sick including those who suffered from leprosy. He was inducted as a patron of the Secular Franciscan Order uniting France bringing all sectors together, the townspeople, the lords, peasants, religious, and knights. St. Louis founded hospitals at Pontoise and Compiegne and houses that helped reformed prostitutes (House of Filles-Dieu) and helping 300 blind men (House of Quinze-Vingt 1254)
Inspired by the Biblical story of the King desiring a banquet, St Louis would invite 13 special guests from the poor to eat with him. During Advent and Lent served in person giving them meals. He always worked to identify the needy all throughout France.
In 1270, St. Louis led another crusade because of the continued threat of the Muslims but this expedition would end within a month of their landing at Carthage because of disease. At age 56, St. Louis died as the result of the disease. He was canonized 27 years later.
Can a rich and powerful king find his way to heaven? Most certainly if they follow the path of St. Louis IX.