Franciscan Bishop (1274-1297)
Born in 1274, Louis was the son of Charles II, King of Naples, and of Mary, daughter of the King of Hungary. In his youth, whilst being held hostage in Barcelona by the King of Aragon, he was in frequent contact with the Friars Minor. When he had regained his freedom, he left the world and his homeland. He was made Bishop of Toulouse and about the same time received the Franciscan habit. He was outstanding for his poverty, humility, and devotion to the poor. He died in 1297 and was canonised at Avignon by Pope John XXII in 1317.
A reading from a biography written by a contemporary
Analecta Francescana VII, pages 361ff
He was raised up for the salvation and consolation
Louis was given to the world by heaven as a light to the nations. God willed to take him early from the evil of this world. He saw the saint’s bright spirit as something pleasing and acceptable to him; by his divine decree he took him from this world of sin and brought him into the company of the blessed. Yet before calling him to paradise, for his own glory he disposed that the saint should travel far and wide, a living model of holiness, for the salvation and consolation of the faithful.
Louis was therefore placed by God like a light on a candlestick, so that shining before all in God’s house, the church, he might draw and direct the hearts of all men to the love of God. He was encompassed by divine providence, like the Ark of God, as he travelled far and wide, confuting the inﬁdel, confronting error effectively and so strengthening the Catholic Church and glorifying the true faith.
To this good man, angelic in appearance, wonderful in his works, and outstanding by his goodness, there ﬂocked from all sides people of both sexes and all walks of life. So great were the crowds that some were nearly crushed to death. All the faithful were ediﬁed by his devout celebration of Mass, his effective preaching, his deep humility, his heartfelt compassion, his devout conversation, his well-ordered life; and, in general, they marvelled at all his actions, whatever he said or did. Who could be indifferent at the sight of such a young man, son of a powerful king, noted for generosity, ennobled by such dignity, so distinguished in authority, elevated by humility, animated by mortiﬁcation; a young man so endowed with wisdom, adorned with the habit of poverty, radiantly charming in his speech, so manifestly good? In fact, this saint seemed a heavenly man and an earthly angel to those who knew his character and way of life.
He died on the ﬁfteenth day of his illness and that morning he recited a prayer he had not said hitherto while he was sick: “Lord God Almighty, you have brought us to the beginning of this day…” About three o’clock he was raised to a sitting position in bed; he raised his eyes to heaven and held the cruciﬁx in his hands or, when he was too weak to hold it, placed it where he could see it, ﬁnd recited until the evening several prayers such as:
“We adore thee O Christ” and “Do not remember the sins my youth”, and prayers to Our Lady. He would frequently make the sign of the cross. When the brother attending him asked why he said the “Hail Mary” so often, his answer was: “Because I shall soon die and the Blessed Virgin will save me”. Beloved of God and man, faithful to God’s will to the end, he fell asleep in the Lord and his holy-soul was delivered from this mortal body and absorbed into the realms of light.
you taught Saint Louis your bishop
to prefer a heavenly kingdom to any earthly throne,
and adorned him with spotless purity and love for the poor;
grant that imitating his virtues on earth,
we may deserve to be crowned with him in heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.