Some time ago, I visited the magnificent equestrian statue of Saint Louis IX that towers over Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. In the right hand of the holy king is an inverted sword, held out as a cross, signifying his desire to defend the Catholic Faith against all adversaries. As a descendant of Saint Louis, in the direct paternal line, I was touched by the devotion of the locals to him, and the kindness they extended to me.
I heard that some want to topple this statue. They want to tear it down as part of a worldwide movement to destroy everything that represents Western civilization. This hate campaign now extends to Catholic saints and includes good King Saint Louis IX.
I immediately thought: Why do they hate King Saint Louis when he only did what was good? What did he do to deserve such hostility when he treated others with such Christian charity? Indeed, people of any station in life could come up to him at the legendary oak tree in Vincennes, present their complaints to him, and receive justice.
For generations, his memory held my family members to the highest of standards. We felt called to honor his memory with good actions. He has constantly called on us to follow in his steps and display similar love of justice and charity.
We need representative figures like King Saint Louis to guide society. I say this not because he is my ancestor. By his canonization, we are assured that his heroic virtues are worthy of emulation. King Saint Louis is a shining figure of a statesman and leader that invites the admiration of all. Would that the world today had such political leaders like him!
The reason I believe his statue must remain standing is that he represented so well the virtues we need most today: Love of honor, truth, justice, and the Faith.
His statue is needed because the riotous monument topplers represent a disorder and destruction that will take society to ruin. They seek to destroy history and erase the memory of saintly men, like Saint Louis, precisely when such role models are most needed.
We need the good and strong Saint Louis in these days of weak leadership and cowardly surrender.
Saint Louis was renowned for his passion for justice. He was a statesman who pursued peace with the nations surrounding France by negotiating generous and equitable solutions to complex disputes. He also knew how to be firm in upholding the Catholic Faith. That is why he fought to free the Holy Land from the hands of its Muslim occupiers and stop their brutal and unjust persecution of Christians.
Such was Saint Louis’s reputation that, when imprisoned by the Muslims during the Crusade, an emir asked to be dubbed a knight by him. Saint Louis answered: “Become Christian, and I’ll make you a knight.” Other Muslims would bring their cases before him to be judged. During his reign, he sent officials throughout the realm to announce in every city that anyone who had complaints against present or past royal officers and judges, for corruption or injustice, to come forward so that justice could be rendered and the tainted public officials removed from office.
He was also famous for his Christian charity, especially towards the poor. He truly believed that the peace and blessings of the realm came through the proper care of the poor. He was a true father to his people and was beloved by them. He had dinner with beggars, washed their feet and ministered to their needs. He set up hospitals, schools and institutions to take care of the sick, poor and blind.
The most important quality of my ancestor was his sanctity. Saint Louis IX was a holy king who loved God and the Blessed Mother. He avoided all sin and practiced heroic virtue. He spent long hours in prayer, fasted, and prayed much. The king said that he prayed long into the night so that France might sleep tranquilly. Everywhere he encouraged the practice of the Faith and endowed religious institutions and churches.
As a descendant of Saint Louis, I was profoundly moved to hear that Catholics frequently gather at his monument in Forest Park, St. Louis, to pray the rosary and defend this symbolic and historical landmark. By remembering him with a statue, we do more than honor his memory. We recognize humbly that, through God’s mercy, good and holy leaders can exist again. Saint Louis challenges us to act with wisdom and courage.
Let us keep the statue, lest we lose the highest of standards—those of Christian civilization—and tumble into chaos and anarchy.
* * *
Please consider signing the petition to save the statue of Saint Louis here.
Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza is a descendant of Saint Louis—twenty-two generations in the direct paternal line—and a member of the Brazilian Imperial family. In 1888, his great-grandmother, Princess Isabel, then Regent, signed Brazil’s Golden Law, freeing the country’s slaves. He is an outspoken writer, speaker, defender of the Catholic Faith and a member of the Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, where he resides.
As seen on LifeSiteNews.