“…but he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven…” (Matt 10:33)
King Saint Louis IX (25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270), commonly known as the “fleur de lys”, was King of France from 1226 until his death. Today we celebrate the 8ooth anniversary of his birth. Due to his profound love of the Catholic Church and his faithfulness to Christ above all things, King Louis IX is considered to be the ideal model of the holy Christian ruler and monarch according to the will of God. The aura of holiness attached to his memory was duly earned through Louis IX’s placing God’s commandments first and foremost in all his actions in the ruling of his kingdom, together with a deep personal piety and humility. (This latter was testified by all those who had known him closely at the intensive canonisation process by Pope Boniface VIII.) His mother, Blanche de Castille, who acted as regent when the twelve year old Louis came to the throne, would say to him: “Never forget that sin is the only great evil in the world. No mother could love her son more than I love you. But I would rather see you lying dead at my feet than know that you had offended God by one mortal sin”. These sentiments young Louis took very much to heart, and would later pass on to his own successor. [See below]
“The prestige and respect felt in Europe for King Louis IX were due more to the attraction that his benevolent personality created rather than to military domination. For his contemporaries, he was the quintessential example of the Christian prince, and embodied the whole of Christendom in his person. His reputation for saintliness and fairness was already well established while he was alive, and on many occasions he was chosen as an arbiter in quarrels among the rulers of Europe… Louis IX took very seriously his mission as “lieutenant of God on Earth”, with which he had been invested when he was crowned in Rheims.” [Wikipedia]
In Jean de Joinville’s “Histoire de Saint Louis”, 1309, he reproduces a very lengthy letter* of advice from King St. Louis IX to his eldest son, the future King Philippe III. St. Louis puts forth some real concepts of kingship with regard to justice and administration, but above all on how to be a faithful son of the Church at all times.
“Dear son, since I desire with all my heart that you be well instructed in all things, it is in my thought to give you some advice this writing. For I have heard you say, several times, that you remember my words better than those of any one else.
Therefore, dear son, the first thing I advise is that you fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.
You should, with all your strength, shun everything which you believe to be displeasing to Him. And you ought especially to be resolved not to commit mortal sin, no matter what may happen and should permit all your limbs to be hewn off, and suffer every manner of torment, rather than fall knowingly into mortal sin.
If our Lord send you any adversity, whether illness or other in good patience, and thank Him for it, thing, you should receive it in good patience and be thankful for it, for you ought to believe that He will cause everything to turn out for your good; and likewise you should think that you have well merited it, and more also, should He will it, because you have loved Him but little, and served Him but little, and have done many things contrary to His will.
If our Lord send you any prosperity, either health of body or other thing you ought to thank Him humbly for it, and you ought to be careful that you are not the worse for it, either through pride or anything else, for it is a very great sin to fight against our Lord with His gifts.
Dear son, I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession… I advise you that you listen willingly and devoutly the services of Holy Church, and, when you are in church, avoid to frivolity and trifling, and do not look here and there; but pray to God with lips and heart alike, while entertaining sweet thoughts about Him, and especially at the Mass, when the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are consecrated, and for a little time before.
Have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms…
I give you all the blessings which a good and tender father can give to a son, and I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, by His mercy, by the prayers and merits of His blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of angels and archangels and of all the saints, to guard and protect you from doing anything contrary to His will, and to give you grace to do it always, so that He may be honoured and served by you. And this may He do to me as to you, by His great bounty, so that after this mortal life we may be able to be together with Him in the eternal life, and see Him, love Him, and praise Him without end. Amen. And glory, honour, and praise be to Him who is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit; without beginning and without end. Amen.”
* This is only the first and final part of the whole letter, which can be read in its entirety here:
This letter should be seen as more than just a letter to Philip; it is a letter to all Christian leaders and rulers to follow. “Never give in to secular and evil values; never waiver in your loyalty to the One King above all earthly kings. Be loyal; be faithful; be brave; be holy! Fear not the scorn or anger of the men of this world, but fear only to displease your Lord and God.”
Saint Louis, Pray for our leaders today, that they may follow your wise and holy ways.