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Saint Louis of Toulouse

Saint Louis of Toulouse | Carlo Crivelli | Church of Santa Lucia, Montefiore dell'Aso, Italy
Image: Saint Louis of Toulouse | Carlo Crivelli | Church of Santa Lucia, Montefiore dell’Aso, Italy

Saint Louis of Toulouse

Saint of the Day for August 18

(February 9, 1274 – August 19, 1297)

 

Saint Louis of Toulouse’s Story

When he died at the age of 23, Louis was already a Franciscan, a bishop, and a saint!

Louis’s parents were Charles II of Naples and Sicily, and Mary, daughter of the King of Hungary. Louis was related to Saint Louis IX on his father’s side and to Elizabeth of Hungary on his mother’s side.

Louis showed early signs of attachment to prayer and to the corporal works of mercy. As a child he used to take food from the castle to feed the poor. When he was 14, Louis and two of his brothers were taken as hostages to the king of Aragon’s court as part of a political deal involving Louis’s father. At the court, Louis was tutored by Franciscan friars under whom he made great progress both in his studies and in the spiritual life. Like Saint Francis he developed a special love for those afflicted with leprosy.

While he was still a hostage, Louis decided to renounce his royal title and become a priest. When he was 20, he was allowed to leave the king of Aragon’s court. He renounced his title in favor of his brother Robert and was ordained the next year. Very shortly after, he was appointed bishop of Toulouse, but the pope agreed to Louis’s request to become a Franciscan first.

The Franciscan spirit pervaded Louis. “Jesus Christ is all my riches; he alone is sufficient for me,” Louis kept repeating. Even as a bishop he wore the Franciscan habit and sometimes begged. He assigned a friar to offer him correction—in public if necessary—and the friar did his job.

Louis’s service to the Diocese of Toulouse was richly blessed. In no time he was considered a saint. Louis set aside 75 percent of his income as bishop to feed the poor and maintain churches. Each day he fed 25 poor people at his table.

Louis was canonized in 1317 by Pope John XXII, one of his former teachers. His Liturgical Feast Day is August 19.


Reflection

When Cardinal Hugolino, the future Pope Gregory IX, suggested to Francis that some of the friars would make fine bishops, Francis protested that they might lose some of their humility and simplicity if appointed to those positions. Those two virtues are needed everywhere in the Church, and Louis shows us how they can be lived out by bishops.


The Franciscan Saints

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Praying in Crisis: The Sorrowful Mysteries of This Moment

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Bishop Barron's Resources on the Sexual Abuse Crisis

Many people have written to us, asking for resources and commentary from Bishop Barron on the recent sexual abuse scandals involving Archbishop McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Here are several from Bishop Barron and the Word on Fire team, along with helpful spiritual resources to provide light during this dark period

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The summit and consummation of everything holy.

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In our first reading today, Elijah is dejected and requests that the Lord take his life. But an angel touches him and orders him to get up and eat. Strengthened by food, he journeys to the mountain of God, Horeb. We're all acquainted with the need for physical food, like Elijah, but we also need spiritual food. If we don't feed our souls, we will become spiritually lethargic and unhealthy. Where do we find that nourishment? The answer comes in John 6, our Gospel reading for today.

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The McCarrick Mess

When I was going through school, the devil was presented to us as a myth, a literary device, a symbolic manner of signaling the presence of evil in the world. I will admit to internalizing this view and largely losing my sense of the devil as a real spiritual person. What shook my agnosticism in regard to the evil one was the clerical sex abuse scandal of the nineties and the early aughts. I say this because that awful crisis just seemed too thought-through, too well-coordinated, to be simply the result of chance or wicked human choice. The devil is characterized as “the enemy of the human race” and particularly the enemy of the Church. I challenge anyone to come up with a more devastatingly effective strategy for attacking the mystical body of Christ than the abuse of children and young people by priests. This sin had countless direct victims of course, but it also crippled the Church financially, undercut vocations, caused people to lose confidence in Christianity, dramatically compromised attempts at evangelization, etc., etc. It was a diabolical masterpiece.