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 Saint Louis of Anjou

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Saint Louis of Anjou   Tue Oct 28, 2008 4:15 pm

Saint Louis of Anjou

Bishop of Toulouse

This saint was born in 1274, second son to Charles II surnamed the Lame, King of Naples and Sicily, and Mary, daughter of Stephen V, King of Hungary; he was therefore a grand-nephew of St Louis of France and connected with the family of St Elizabeth of Hungary.

In 1284 Louis's father Charles, then prince of Salerno, was taken prisoner in a sea-fight by the king of Aragon. His father, Charles I, died within a few months, and he was saluted by his friends as king of Sicily, but he remained four years prisoner and was only released on hard conditions: being, moreover, obliged to send into Aragon as hostages three of his sons, of whom Louis was one. He remained seven years at Barcelona in captivity, under which he was always cheerful and encouraged his companions, and as he grew older he took an active part in the sports and manly exercises with which the brothers and other prisoners passed the time. But Louis imposed strict regulations: chess, for instance, was encouraged, but gambling forbidden. He himself gave much time to study and came under the influence of the Friars Minor, so that when he was attacked by a severe illness at the castle of Sciurana he made a vow to join that order if he should recover. He got leave for two Franciscan friars, who were appointed to attend him, to live with him in his own apartments; he rose to pray with them in the night, and under them he applied himself diligently to the studies of philosophy and theology.

St Louis was set at liberty in 1295, by a treaty concluded between his father and James II, King of Aragon, and it was proposed that James's sister should be united in marriage with Louis. But the saint's resolution of dedicating himself to God was inflexible, and he resigned his right to the crown of Naples, which his father conferred on his next brother, Robert. The opposition of his family obliged the superiors of the Friars Minor to refuse for some time to admit him into their body, wherefore he retired to a castle near Naples, where he befriended a poor scholar of Cahors, James d'Euse, who afterwards became Pope John XXII and canonized his benefactor.

Pope Boniface VIII gave him a dispensation to receive priestly orders in the twenty-third year of his age, and afterwards for the episcopate, together with his nomination to the bishopric of Toulouse, and a severe injunction in virtue of obedience to accept it. He first went to Rome to fulfil his vow, and made his religious profession among the Friars Minor, in their convent of Ara Caeli, on Christmas eve, 1296, and received the episcopal consecration in St Peter's five days later.

Louis travelled to his bishopric as a poor religious, but was received at Toulouse with the veneration due to a saint and the magnificence that became a prince. His modesty and devotion inspired love in all that beheld him. He banished the use of plate and jewelled vessels from his episcopal dwelling, substituting for them pewter and wooden bowls, and wore an old darned habit, as befitting a Franciscan and as an example to his clergy, who gave too much thought to dress. As a bishop he abated nothing of his austerities, celebrated Mass every day, and preached frequently. But within a few months he found the episcopal office too much for him, and asked leave to resign it.

Returning from a visit to his sister in Catalonia he fell sick at Brignoles. St Louis died on August 19, 1297, being only twenty-three years and a half old. He was buried in the convent of the Franciscan friars at Marseilles, as he had ordered. Pope John XXII canonized him at Avignon in 1317, and addressed a brief thereupon to his mother, who was still living.

Note:
It is interesting to note that Richard Middleton (de Media Villa), an English Franciscan who was also a famous theologian, became one of St Louis's tutors; also that St Aloysius Gonzaga's extreme, and as some may well think exaggerated, modesty in avoiding all relations with the opposite sex was apparently imitated from the conduct of his patron, St Louis of Anjou. St.Louis' Confessor, John de Orta, wrote a "Life" on this saint.


References:
Margaret R. Toynbee "St Louis of Toulouse and the Process of Canonization in the Fourteenth Century" (1929).

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