Onward, Christian soldiers

by chuckofish

Today is the feast day of Saint Louis, King of France, not only on the R.C. calendar but our own Anglican liturgical calendar. I can’t imagine why.

Louis IX (25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270) was crowned King of France at the age of 12 and reigned until his death.

Louis IX by El Greco

Louis IX by El Greco–His mother thought he was handsome.

A devout Catholic, he is the only canonized king of France. According to Wikipedia, he was raised by his mother who trained him to be a great leader and a good Christian. She used to say:

I love you, my dear son, as much as a mother can love her child; but I would rather see you dead at my feet than that you should ever commit a mortal sin.

Well, okay then. In turn, he wrote to his own son:

My dearest son, you should permit yourself to be tormented by every kind of martyrdom before you would allow yourself to commit a mortal sin.

At this point I have to ask myself, What is a mortal sin anyway?

The answer is, of course, extremely complicated. Mortal sins–not to be confused with venial sins or “grave matter”–are wrongful acts that condemn a person to Hell after death if unforgiven. By the way, Mortal Sins should not be confused with the Seven Deadly Sins, which are not necessarily Mortal Sins. They are sins that lead to other sins.

Got that? Well, if you ask me, old King Louis seems to have been a bit obsessed with all this sinning. In fact, he wore a hair shirt most of the time and allowed himself to be scourged regularly, lest he enjoy Life too much.

Anyway, Louis established a hospital, was friends with fellow saint-to-be Thomas Aquinas, and took part in two Crusades, which were both total failures. But by all accounts he was a holy guy and so we Episcopalians have this prayer for him today:

O God, who didst call thy servant Louis of France to an earthly throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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FYI: We have a pretty cool state of Louis IX in Forest Park here in the flyover town named after him. It has stood atop Art Hill since an unveiling ceremony on Oct. 4, 1906. The statue was inspired by the popularity of a similar statue made of reinforced plaster that was outside the 1904 World’s Fair at the main gate, at Lindell and Union boulevards. The original statue became popular as a place to meet and caught the eye of newspaper illustrators and cartoonists as a symbol of the fair. The committee that ran the fair presented the $42,000 bronze version as a gift to the city during its cleanup of the park.

Over the years Saint Louis’ sword has been broken or stolen a number of times. It was replaced in 1970, 1972, 1977 and 1981. Stealing, and later returning, the sword was considered a rite of passage for students in the engineering program at Washington University. Oh, those crazy engineers!

Be fruitful in good works, but enjoy the day!