The Franciscan family honors the memory of St. Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297). Although not well-known today, Louis was somewhat of a phenomenon in his own time, a prince who renounced a throne to become a Franciscan. Louis was the son of Charles II, King of Naples and a great-nephew of both St Louis of France and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. When Louis’s father inherited the throne of Naples in 1285, he was a prisoner of the King of Aragon, but several year later he was granted his freedom, if he would consent to send Louis (then 14) and two of his brothers there as hostages instead. The youths spent seven years in Barcelona (1288-95), where their education was entrusted to several Friars Minor. Inspired by their ideals, Louis determined to join the Franciscans himself. Upon his release, he dramatically renounced his rights of succession, and entered the Order in 1296. Pope Boniface VIII – unwilling to let a prince of the blood become just an ordinary friar – had already named him to be bishop of Toulouse. However, Louis was determined to live as a poor Franciscan. “Jesus Christ is all my riches; he alone is sufficient for me,” he kept repeating. He committed half of the revenues of his diocese to care for the poor and daily fed 25 poor people at his own table. He still hoped he might be able to renounce the office of bishop but died suddenly in 1297. Louis was canonized in 1317, the third Friar Minor to be declared a saint (after Francis and Anthony of Padua). He was venerated in the Middle Ages in Valencia, Spain (where his remains were taken), Hungary (where his nephew became king) and among the Franciscans. The mission San Luis Obispo (“St. Louis the Bishop”) in California is named after him. There is a detailed scholarly article on Louis available at: http://etd.lsu.edu/…/etd-052…/unrestricted/Scotti_thesis.pdf
Interestingly enough, Louis’ brother, Robert “the Wise,” who inherited the throne of Naples instead of him, proved to be a devout ruler and great benefactor of the Franciscans. It was he who concluded a treaty with the Sultan of Egypt in 1333, which allowed the Franciscans to minister in several shrines in Jerusalem, laying the foundations for the Custody of the Holy Land. Robert’s wife, Sancia, was a prominent lay Franciscan and also a generous benefactor.
(Franciscan Intellectual Tradition)
St. Louis, pray for us!
St. Louis of Toulouse (American Catholic/Franciscan Media)