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St. Louis, King of France

St. Louis, manuscript XIV Cent., Bibliothèque nationale de France St. Louis, manuscript XIV Cent., Bibliothèque nationale de France 

The seventh crusade

When, in 1248, Louis IX went to liberate the Holy Land, he embarked with his bride, Margaret of Provence, but he was taken prisoner. Once released and returned to his realm, he undertook great reforms, including in particular the interdict of the judicial duel (or trial by ordeal). He funded hospitals and monasteries and realized his great project: building the "Sainte-Chapelle" as a shrine of light and colored glass intended to accommodate the relics, especially the thorns of Christ’s crown, which he had acquired from from the Byzantine Emperor. To his sister, Blessed Isabel, he gave the lands of Longchamp to build the abbey for the Sisters of Saint Clare.

Louis IX, king of France

His reign saw an era of great cultural, intellectual and theological evolution. Saint Louis loved to host his Saint Bonaventure and Saint Thomas Aquinas at his table. With Robert of Sorbon, he founded the Sorbonne University in 1257. He followed with great care the completion of the cathedral of Notre Dame, in particular the rosettes and porticoes. His greatest concern was to pacify, to reconcile with enemies and to extinguish conflicts, specifically the one between France and England. He dreamt of returning to the Holy Land and of converting the Sultan of Egypt: nevertheless, he would never reach beyond Carthage, in present-day Tunis, for disease would kill him on August 25, 1270.

The prestige of Paris

Under the reign of Louis IX, Paris became the most prestigious city of Western Christianity,  with its university, Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. No one was surprised that his canonization process began only two years after his death, especially in view of the miracles and healings that took place at his grave. In 1297, at the end of a long investigation, Pope Boniface VIII raised Louis IX to the glory of the altars, making him one of the saints of the Catholic Church. August 25, the anniversary of his death, became his canonical feast. Louis IX, king of France, was one of the first lay people to become recognized as a saint through the process of canonization.

Justice and Peace

Throughout his life, Louis IX was committed to reigning with justice and in peace, according to  his call to holiness, which he lived in his role as a statesman. The sovereigns of Europe appealed to his wisdom. Known then for his sense of justice and for his love of God and the poor, he is represented with the symbols of the cross, the hand of righteousness, and the cincture of the Franciscan tertiaries, of whom he is the Patron saint.