[Another French installment of How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints? in support of the people of Paris, France, following the horrendous attack on their city and country Friday, 13 November 2015. God bless France.]
Louis IX was born in Aragon in 1556 and crowned King upon his father’s death at age 12. He married at age 19 and had ten or eleven children (sources vary) although several of them died before adulthood. He was known as a holy man who interpreted his kingly duties in light of his faith. He was admired for his obvious dedication to the poor and needy–building churches, hospitals, libraries, and orphanages for them–and reforming civil law to reflect justice for “the humble folk of the Lord”.
He was a devout Catholic but was not afraid to ignore Pope Innocent IV’s sentencing against Emperor Fredrick II. He considered himself a “Lieutenant of the Lord” when he fought in two crusades, which in the hindsight of today, was not without criticism. Strangely enough, he entered the second crusade in 1267 at age 42 because he was “disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria” (Saint of the Day, St. Anthony Press, 2003), contracted dysentery and died at age 44. His feast day is August 25.
My father’s name was Luigi until first grade when his Italian immigrant parents were told he must use an American name. The school called him “Louis” but he pronounced it like the French “Louie”. He built churches, schools, and homes–not as a king, but as a mason contractor. He did not fight a crusade, but as a Lieutenant in WWII he wore a scapular everyday (after the war too) and carried a tiny Catholic prayer book for soldiers in his pocket. To my mother’s chagrin, he was not shy about respectfully challenging priests after Mass about statements they made in their sermons.
He had fourteen children and all of them lived to adulthood. He provided for our family of 16 without public assistance. Every night before supper, he lead us in grace–always adding a prayer of his own. Sometimes he had us kneel with him in the living room for a family rosary. He went to Mass every Sunday and holy day, sang in the choir, ushered, played slow pitch with the parish team, and kept a large vigil light burning in front of a trio of statues in our living room: the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary, and St. Anne holding the child Mary. He lit a second candle when the first flame was low and until his death at age 65, the vigil light never went out.
By his own admission, my Dad had many faults–like being strong-willed and quick-tempered. But he also had many virtues–like being strong-willed and knowing how he needed to improve. I didn’t appreciate just how holy, honorable, and knowledgeable about the world he was until I became a parent of six. So many times I wish I could talk with him.
With the recent events in Paris (so eerily connected to what Saint Louis King of France faced hundreds of years ago) I suspect he’s up in heaven telling Louis IX how the attacks should be handled–and the good King is listening to the “humble folk”–at least until they both kneel and pray for France and all of us.
(Picture accessed 15 Nov 2015 on google images)
(Updated Saint of the Day is available for purchase at Franciscan Press)