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St. Louis

Louis was born April 25, 1214 to King Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile at Poissy France. His father died when he was twelve and his mother became regent of France, until Louis came of age. His mother was a strong, devout woman and she taught her son to love God and prefer death to serious sin. She defended his throne against ambitious nobles by careful alliances and at times by battle. In 1234 Louis married Margaret, daughter of Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence. About this time he began to govern on his own, although his mother remained his trusted advisor until her death. Louis was a beloved leader because he genuinely cared about his people. He developed a more effective court system throughout France, so that anyone with a case could be promptly heard and he enacted more just laws. He lived an austere, prayerful lifestyle, attended to the needs of the poor and became a Franciscan Tertiary. Margaret was also very virtuous and they had eleven children. On several occasions he had to send his armies into war to defend the country and he founded the French navy, but he preferred diplomacy and peaceful solutions. His personal arbitration settled disputes about the thrones of Flanders, Navarre, and Hainaut and a dispute between King Henry III and his nobles. His firm, fair rule at home gave France a period of peace and prosperity. Louis went on a crusade in 1248, but after a crucial victory suffered a crushing defeat and was captured by the Saracens in 1250; he and his men were held hostage until they were able to pay a ransom. Once free he went on to the Holy Land; he returned to France when Blanche died in 1254. In 1270, he went on another crusade, but contracted malaria and died in Tunisia on August 25, 1270. He was canonized in 1297 and he is the patron of Tertiaries and kings.

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