ST. LUDWIG (Louis IX of France)



Ludwig was the personal name , while Louis IX was the name as King of France. He was born in Poissy, near Paris, on 25 April 1214. His mother Blanche of Castile, gave him a complete, humanistic and religious education.

Ludwig became king at the death of Louis VIII, on 8 November 1226, and he was called Louis IX. Since he was a minor, his mother Blanche exerted the protection and always preserved the title of “queen”. There was a shared government.

On 27 May 1234 Ludwig married Margaret of Provence. From their marriage will be born eleven children.

During his kingdom Ludwig had to face considerable diplomatic and military difficulties. In the internal policy, he encouraged social progress, craft business, trade, and promoted people’s religiousness and morality.

During his kingdom, France and the western Christianity knew an extraordinary flowering of Art, literature, philosophy and scholastic theology. The University of Paris took hold. Big gothic churches arose with their famous glass walls. Also the Mendicant Orders, the Third Orders and the Evangelic Movement mightily appeared.

Ludwig kept good relations with Franciscans: he asked them advice, pray with them, once he offered the lunch at the provincial chapter and ate with the friars. At Ludwig’s times there were in France 200 Franciscan convents. In Vernon, where there was a «palais royal», Ludwig established a convent for the Regular Tertiaries, where he often went to pray and stay in meditation. There he built a hospital, entrusted to the «Penitent Brothers and Sisters», where he himself served the poor and the patients (cf. J-M. De Vernon, Annales, p. 70). One of the four Provinces of the Third Order Regular in France was entitled «Provincia S. Ludovici regis».

Louis IX organized two Crusades (1248-1254 and in 1270) in order to convert Muslims to Christ and protect the Holy land. Crusades were unsuccessful.

He built in Paris the «Sainte-Chapelle», masterpiece of art ad faith, to received the relics of Christ’s cross he had bought in 1239.

Ludwig was a man of great spirituality: prayer, confession every Friday, attendance at the daily mass, celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours like the monks, nocturnal vigil prayer, barefoot pilgrimages, fasts, abstinences and voluntary chagrin. On Lent Fridays he wore the hair shirt.

He refused comforts and luxuries, ate simple things and wore austere clothes. He loved the poor and served them at the table. Three poor (13 during Lent) always ate at his dining hall. Every day were fed at his own expense 120/200 poor. He built hospice, visited ills, he cleaned every Saturday poor’s feet staying on his knees. He personally took care of the lepers.

He incentivized in the people religiosity and moral sense, required from his kingdom rulers the most inflexible justice and everywhere promoted peace deals. He educated his children according to God’s word.

Ludwig shared the Franciscan spirituality, especially lived and did penitence and made works of mercy, typical binomial of the Franciscan Third Order Regular. In some circumstances he wore the gray habit tied with the Franciscan cord.

A long tradition properly venerates him as a Franciscan tertiary. Many sources guarantees this. The sigillum (stamps) of the Third Order Regular and of many Tertiaries Friaries brings the figure of St. Ludwig, the penitent king.

Ludwig died of typhus fever in Carthage, on 25 August 1270, during the Crusade. His mortal remains were carried to Palermo (where his brother, Charles of Anjou, reigns) and later to Paris. He was canonized by Boniface VIII on 11 August 1297. In his honour several churches were built.

According to a time-honored tradition Ludwig is venerated as the protector of the Franciscan Third Order Regular, together with St. Elizabeth of Hungary, both early fruits of sanctity of Franciscan Penitents. Their spiritual life, peculiar and intense, immediately appears as a bright example of inspiring and prophetic power.




Elizabeth was born on 7 July 1207. She was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary (†1235), and the Queen Gertrude of Merania (†1213).

When she was four years old, the child had been promised to the next to Ludwig IV, Landgrave of Thuringia and brought at the Wartburg castle, the court of the rulers of Thuringia for initiation to court life, under the guidance of Sophie of Bavaria, Landgrave.

In May 1221 Elizabeth (14 years old) and Ludwig IV (21 years old ) got married at the castle’s Church and there were great celebrations all over the city of Eisenach. Three children were born: Hermann II, Sophie and Gertrude, who became a premonstratensian nun and was canonized in 1348.

In 1225 Elizabeth met Franciscan missionaries, heard about Francis of Assisi and warmly welcomed the evangelic ideal and became a Franciscan Penitent.

Meanwhile, on 24 June 1227 Ludwig IV joined the Crusade. He dead in Otranto, Apulia, on 11 September 1227, leaving Elizabeth widow at just twenty years old! He was born in 1200.

Henry Raspe, Ludwig IV’s broche, assumed the regency during the minority of Elizabeth’s eldest child, Hermann II. Hermann II took over the regency on 1238, but in 1241 he died poisoned and Henry Raspe regained the throne as Landgrave descendant.

Henry Raspe didn’t approve Elizabeth’s lifestyle, his sister-in-law, who alternated impulses of ascesis with heroic charity to needy people. Simplicity, poverty, prayer, voluntary mortifications.

During the month of December in the same year (1227), shortly after she lost her husband, Elizabeth left the Wartburg court and sought refuge in the underlying city of Eisenach. Whit her there were the faithful handmaids Guda and Isentrude, while her three children provisionally remained in the court’s environments, but they would reach her soon.

During the hard winter in 1227-1228 Elizabeth, with her two handmaids and three children find an accommodation in an old abandoned pigsty. There weren’t food and clothes. The situation seemed to be tragic!

Elizabeth endured precariousness with faith and perfect joy. Before dawn she went to the Church of the Minor friars, inviting them to sing with her the thanksgiving hymn to God, happy to share Christ’s sufferings.

Elizabeth started a new free and frugal life, scanned by the praise of Lord. She reached the spousal love to poverty. She loved and helped the poor, for which (in 1228-1229) built a hospital in Marburg, using five hundred marks received as dowry. She served and cleaned the lepers. She fed poor and beggars, singing with them and having feast. In needy people Elizabeth could see Christ’s face. The historical sources relate so much very significant episodes.

On 24 March 1228, in the Church of the Minor friars in Eisenach, once put her hands upon the altar as sign of offer, Elizabeth solemnly renewed her religious profession, that had already expressed in a conditional form in the spring of 1226, and she received the Penitent’s grey suit: a rustic tunic tied with the Franciscan cord.

She became a consecrated woman, namely without going to a convent or monastery. Thereby Elizabeth, with her choice, was model of evangelic sanctity even for the «Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular», which chose the best part. (cf. Lc 10,38-42). An intense life, because she «desired the highest Christian perfection» (Corrado’s Letter,12).

On 17 November 1231 Elizabeth died very young, full of merits. The fame of her holiness became wide-ranging. She was canonized in Perugia (Church of S. Domenico) on 27 May 1235. Her cult has spread tremendously. Great wonder for the amount and the kind of miracles attributed to her intercession.

As first Franciscan tertiary raised to the honors of the altar, Elizabeth was venerated as the protector of the Third Franciscan, Secular and Regular Order. With her, it is also considered the protector Saint Louis King of France.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Louis of France are models of Christian life, of prayer, participation to the mystery of the Cross, they are examples of social sensibility and of many works of charity.