Nobility of Soul – Louis IX, King of France


from True Men as We Need Them – Rev. Bernard O’Reilly

Who does not know with what incomparable tenderness and solicitude the canonized Louis IX, King of France, was reared and educated by his mother, Blanche of Castile, deemed herself, by those who knew her best, to be worthy of a place among the saints?

She had come of too heroic a blood not to value in her son the chivalrous virtues and qualities which should grace a Christian king. She saw to it during her regency, that he received an intellectual training quite extraordinary in an age when persons of high rank set but little store on literary attainments.

Louis was an accomplished scholar and statesman, as well as a peerless knight and commander. What, however, distinguished him above all others, was his perfect Christian character.

To form this in her boy, the God-fearing queen would entrust to no one but herself his instruction in the truths of religion, and his training to the practice of every virtue necessary to a Christian sovereign.

“God knows, my son,” she would often say to him, as he nestled near her heart, while a mere child, or sat near her in boyhood, “God knows I love thee as well as ever mother loved her dearest. Yet would I rather see thee at any moment stretched a corpse at my feet, than know thee guilty of deadly sin.”

How the docile child retained through all his eventful and heroic life, the molding then given to his character, we shall have more than one occasion to judge ere the end of this book.

And remembering in after-years all the pains taken for this purpose by his admirable parent, Louis was fain to bestow on his children the same loving labor.

“Before he lay down in his bed,” relates his intimate friend and biographer, “he was wont to have his children brought to him, and related to them the actions of good kings and emperors, and told them to take example by such men.

And he likewise set before them the deeds of bad princes, who had lost their kingdoms in consequence of their licentiousness, rapacity, and avarice.

‘I remind you of these things,’ he would say, ‘that you may keep your souls free from them, and draw not on yourselves the divine wrath.’

He also made them learn their prayers to Our Lady, and made them recite their Hours twice a day, to accustom them thereby to assist at the Hours (in the church), when they should have come to govern their own lands.” (De Joinville, Life of St. Louis, King of France, ch. xv.  The “Hours” spoken of here are the Canonical Hours for the recitation of the Divine Office in cathedral or collegiate churches. It was then customary for all who could do so to assist at these, or to recite them in private from their “Book of Hours.”)

Nor, in thus dwelling on the formation of character, and recalling again and again the qualities which enter into chivalry, do we for a moment wish it to be understood that our every word is not addressed to the popular masses much more than to those whom wealth, or birth, or position place at the head of the community.

It is most especially the laboring classes in town and country that we are anxious to see “generous and devoted, faithful, and indifferent to their own selfish interest, full of high honor, and not aiming to follow the erring multitude.”

The chivalry which is the very spirit of true Christian manhood, is not the character of a social class, or the distinctive quality of the highly born, or the result of the special training given to a privileged few.

The generosity, the self-sacrificing heroism, which are its primary virtues, have ever been found in the poorest and lowliest, as well as in the foremost in rank and honor.

“I can give you privileges and fiefs,” said a Christian emperor to a favorite who begged to be ennobled, “but I cannot make you noble.”

The nobility of soul, which we here hold up to your admiration, is the joint product of God’s grace and your own generous cooperation.

Parents can and do contribute greatly toward the creation of this nobility of soul and conduct; it is, however, under God, the result of one’s own fidelity to the divine Voice ever speaking in conscience, to the divine Light ever showing steadily the path of duty and honor, and to the impulse of the Divine Spirit urging the babe of the beggar as well as the son of the prince to aim high, and do nobly, and be in all things true to the light and the truth within them.


Love and friendship are the remnants of the earthly paradise. In this vale of tears, when we encounter so many difficulties, to have people you can call friends is such a joy, such a comfort, such a gift. –Dietrich von Hildebrand, Man, Woman, and the Meaning of Love: God’s Plan for Love, Marriage, Intimacy, and the Family


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