Louis (LOO-ee) was only 12 years old when he was named the king of France. The year was 1226, and his father, Louis VIII, had just died. Louis was too young to rule the country on his own, so his mother ruled in his place. She knew that one day Louis would take his place on the throne. She guided her son and taught him well so that he would become a just and courageous king. Louis took over from his mother when he turned 21. The night before he was crowned, he fasted and prayed. He asked God to make him a good servant, to make him a good and holy king for his people.
After the morning Mass, King Louis IX would ride his horse out into the country to see how he could work to make life better for his people. He would often stop in villages to listen to what the people had to say. He checked that wealthy, powerful nobles were not abusing people. When he heard that the nobles unjustly took from people who had less, he forced the nobles to give back what they had taken. He listened to people’s ideas for how to improve their country, and he passed laws to protect those who were vulnerable.
The king ordered churches and hospitals built throughout France. In his travels, the king himself would often visit and care for those who were sick. He listened to the needs of others. As a man given the power to guide his country, he could do great good for his people. He worked for peace in the world, and when he did fight, he was merciful to those he captured.
In 1244, King Louis led a Crusade into the Holy Land. As king, Louis could have taken special privileges and comforts. Instead, he chose to share the hardships of his soldiers. Once, the king was captured. While in prison, he prayed the Liturgy of the Hours every day.
When Louis was dying, he prayed “Lord, I will enter into your house. I will worship in your holy temple, and will give glory to your name.” Through his prayer, his support of the Church, and his Christlike service to all, Louis made his whole life an act of worship.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: Louis IX of France by unknown artist, 14th century. Public Domain via Wikimedia.