Reigning from 1226 to 1270, Louis IX showed how a saint would act on the throne of France. He was a lovable personality, a kind husband, a father of eleven children, and at the same time a strict ascetic.
To an energetic and prudent rule Louis added love and zeal for the practice of piety and the reception of the holy sacraments. He was brave in battle, polished at feasts, and addicted to fasting and mortification. His politics were grounded upon strict justice, unshatterable fidelity, and untiring effort toward peace. Nevertheless, his was not a weakly rule but one that left its impress upon following generations. He was a great friend of religious Orders, a generous benefactor of the Church.
The Breviary says of him: “He had already been king for twenty years when he fell victim to a severe illness. That afforded the occasion for making a vow to undertake a crusade for the liberation of the Holy Land. Immediately upon recovery he received the crusader’s cross from the hand of the bishop of Paris, and, followed by an immense army, he crossed the sea in 1248. On the field of battle Louis routed the Saracens; yet when the plague had taken large numbers of his soldiery, he was attacked and taken captive (1250). The king was forced to make peace with the Saracens; upon the payment of a huge ransom, he and his army were again set at liberty.” While on a second crusade he died of the plague, with these words from the psalm upon his lips: “I will enter Thy house; I will worship in Thy holy temple and sing praises to Thy Name!” (Ps. 5).
Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch