Born to King Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile in 1214, Louis IX was only 12 when his father died and Louis was crowned king of France. His mother was regent while Louis was a minor, and she provided him with a proper education and a deep reverence for religion. At age 20, Louis was happily married to Margaret of Provence, and the couple eventually had 11 children.
Louis's faith inspired in him a deep appreciation for peace. As a ruler, he worked to unite France by eliminating the feuding and petty wars that had long divided the country. He also protected vassals from cruel lords and reformed the courts so that every man in France could receive justice. Louis's reputation for honesty was so great that he was often asked to arbitrate foreign disputes.
When Christianity became threatened, though, Louis was quick to act. The Muslims invaded Jerusalem, and Louis led a Crusade to reclaim the Holy Land. After he captured Damietta in Egypt, Louis walked barefoot with his family and nobles into the city, singing a hymn to God. Unfortunately, he lost the next battle and was taken prisoner. Louis had to give up Damietta and pay a ransom for his freedom.
Back at home, Louis led an unusually austere life for a king. He fasted often and spent long hours in prayer and penance. He also encouraged morality in his court and was known for his charity. The kind king founded several hospitals and fed over a hundred poor people every day, some at his own table. During his reign, many cathedrals, monasteries and universities were built, including the famous Sorbonne. To this day, Louis is remembered as a great king and loyal crusader for God.
Admirable Catholic King
and devoted family man,
you raised eleven children of God,
personally served the poor,
and respected human rights.
You founded "houses of God"
and provided an example
for the religious by your fidelity.
Inspire tertiaries to live their vocation
and thereby give an example of Christian love
to others in the world.
From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives
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