Today is the feast day of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse. Ora pro nobis.
Louis was born at Brignoles in Provence, in 1274. Louis was the great-nephew of Saint Louis, King of France, and through his mother, of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
Saint Elizabeth observed in her son particularly blessed results. He loved prayer, was reserved and gentle. On a certain occasion, after he had retired, his mother found him sleeping on a rug on the floor of his room instead of in his comfortable bed.
In 1284 the father of Saint Louis, Charles II, was taken prisoner in a sea battle by the King of Aragon. He was released on condition he send into Aragon as hostages, fifty gentlemen and three of his sons. One of these hostages was our Saint. Confined as a prisoner for seven years, he was subjected to ill treatment which never lessened his patience. Louis was finally set at liberty by a treaty concluded between the King of Naples, his father, and James II, King of Aragon. Both courts desired that Louis, then about 18 years old, marry the princess of Majorca, King James’ sister. The Saint’s resolution to dedicate himself to God was inflexible, however, and he resigned his right to the crown of Naples, begging his father to confer it on his younger brother, Robert.
He had made a vow during a grave illness to join the Friar Minors if cured; this vow was the cause of his recovery during his captivity. The opposition of his family obliged the superiors of the Friar Minors to refuse for some time to admit him into their body. He therefore went to Naples to prepare for Holy Orders, with his father’s permission. Boniface VIII gave him a dispensation to receive priestly orders in the twenty-third year of his age. Afterwards Boniface VIII sent him a dispensation for the episcopal character, together with his nomination to the archbishopric of Toulouse, and a severe injunction, in virtue of holy obedience, to accept the same.
After renouncing all the rights of succession in favour of his brother Robert, he was ordained subdeacon in Rome by Boniface VIII, and in 1296 deacon and priest at Naples. Boniface VIII appointed the saintly young priest Bishop of Toulouse. Louis wished first to become a Friar Minor. He received the Franciscan habit in Rome from the minister general, John Minio of Murro, on 24 Dec., 1296, and immediately made solemn profession. He was consecrated Bishop of Toulouse by Boniface VIII on 29 (30?) Dec., 1296. After the Feast of St. Agatha (5 Feb.), 1297, on which day he appeared for the first time publicly in the Franciscan habit, he went to Toulouse. But his episcopate was very brief, for on his return journey from a visit to his sister, the Queen of Aragon, he was seized by fever and died at Brignoles.
His canonization, promoted by Clement V in 1307, was solemnized by John XXII on 7 April, 1317. His relics reposed in the Franciscan church at Marseilles till 1423, when they were taken by Alfonso V of Aragon to the cathedral church of Valencia, of which town Louis became patron saint.
His feast, celebrated in the Franciscan Order on 19 Aug., was decreed by the general chapter held at Marseilles in 1319, and the rhythmical office, beginning Tecum, composed by the saint’s brother, King Robert of Naples, was inserted in the Franciscan Breviary by the General Chapter of Marseilles in 1343, but seems to have been abolished by the Tridentine reform of the Breviary under Pius IV [sic, i.e., St. Pius V], 1568 .
Image: Portrait of St. Louis of Toulouse, probably from a polyptych. Artist: Antonio Vivarini, circa 1450. (5)
Research by REGINA Staff