Semi-Double Feast of Saint Louis IX, King of France, Confessor
Missa "Os justi"
Born into royalty on April 25, 1214 in Poissy, France, Saint Louis
was crowned King of France in 1226 on the death of his father King Louis VIII
. He had been raised in a staunch Catholic atmosphere by his mother Blanche of Castile
, who became regent upon her husband's death until her son reached adulthood. The youthful Louis, one of the youngest rulers in French history, weaned on his faith by his mother exemplified his Catholicity throughout his life.
It served him well in his long reign which was frought with great crisis including fending off those who would usurp his throne such as Thibault of Champagne. At the age of 20, Louis married the daughter of the Count of Provence, Margaret Berenger and they populated the royal court with eleven children. At the age of 28 Louis quelled rebellion in the south of France and followed that up by soundly defeating the English and King Henry III at the Battle of Taillebourg. With that accomplished, he turned his attention to bringing all the provinces in line with the king, securing this with victories over Guienne, Poitou and Toulouse.
Satisfied that France was safe, Louis set his sights on his life-long goal to lead the Crusades in liberating the Holy Land in 1248. His ambitions, at first successful with victory over the Saracens at Damietta in 1249 met harsh reality at the Massacre of El Mansura when he was soundly defeated by the infidels. Historians have not been kind to Louis, claiming his crusade was ill-timed and poorly planned, but they overlook the fact Louis was a peacemaker evidence in Louis' ability to convince his Saracen captors to release him and his troops in order to reach the Holy Land. It was not a cheap gesture as he ransomed many treasures and emptied many a coffer to assure their safety. There in Jerusalem he stayed until 1254 when his beloved mother Blanche died, prompting him to return to France. Always opting for peaceful measures he brought calm to Flanders in 1256 and assured, through the Treaty of Paris with Henry III that the provinces of Anjou, Maine, Normandy, Poitou and Touraine would remain part of France in exchange for Cahors, Limoges and Perigueux as Brit territory. He followed that up with the Treaty of Corbeil in 1258 by giving up Roussillon and Barcelona in order to secure Provence and Languedox from Aragon.
Once a crusader, always a crusader and in 1270 he set out once again on an expedition to the Holy Lands. However he would not reach his promised land this time, succumbing to typhus, as well as his dear son Philip, at Tunis on the North African coast where he died on August 25, 1270 at the age of 56 leaving a legacy of peace and fairness to posterity. His last words were "Into Thy hands I commend my soul." Throughout his life he forged numerous peace treaties for allies and foes alike. He was a close friend of the great Doctor of the Church Saint Thomas Aquinas and endowed and founded the Sorbonne University as well as building impressive cathedrals drawing on the Gothic theme which flourished during his reign. He was a friend to vassals whom he protected, forbidding fighting between feudal lords and assuring they would not mistreat their subjects. Louis was a master of streamlining government while remaining always true to his word no matter what he said. He built France's first Naval operations and, despite his defeats in the Holy Land, was considered a master military technician.
But war was only a last resort for this saintly king who desired, above all, peace at home and with his neighbors. He was greatly loved by all who prospered during his glorious reign of 44 years of peaceful coexistence with the other countries of Europe as France gained in prestige and profit through peace. One of his other goals was to reunite the Eastern Church with Rome, calling on the Greek Ambassadors to work with him toward reunion. What might have been never materialized for death deprived history of even greater accomplishments. History, however, cannot deny the fact that Louis, a Franciscan Tertiary, lived his faith and preached through example. In fact, this stately king lived the austerity of a monk, praying daily the Divine Office and attending Daily Mass. He received from the Latin emperor in Constantinople the priceless gift of the authentic Crown of thorns that pressed against Our Lord's skull. To honor this sacramental relic, Louis built the renowned Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Thirty seven years after his death Pope Boniface VII canonized Louis, who was a champion of both the poor and privileged classes.
Louis was forever a faithful disciple of Christ
Crucified, and his life bears witness to the truth that virtue is not always rewarded in this world. Louis was inspired by his zeal for the Faith to attempt the reconquest of the Holy Places sanctified by the blood of the Redeemer, but instead of triumph and victory, he only met with defeat and captivity, and when he was at last ransomed by his people, he brought back to Paris as a symbolic trophy of his campaigns the crown of thorns once worn by Our Savior. The custom of genuflecting at the words in the Credo, et homo factus est, and of making profound reverence at the passage in the Gospels recording the death of Jesus was introduced by this pious king in his own chapel; they are now part of the ordinary ceremonial.
Resources: We are grateful to Friends of Our Lady of Fatima for providing the Propers for the faithful. Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945
Missa "Os justi"
Go to the ORDINARY OF THE HOLY MASS THE MASS OF THE CATECHUMENS
INTROIT: Psalm 36: 30-31