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Louis of Toulouse

(1274—1297)


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(1274–97),

also called Louis of Anjou, Franciscan friar and bishop. Born Louis d'Angio at Brignolles (Provence), the son of Charles II of Naples and his wife Mary, princess of Hungary, he was a relative of both Louis IX and Elizabeth of Hungary. His father was taken prisoner by the king of Aragon in a sea-battle in 1284: Louis became a hostage and spent seven years in or near Barcelona. During this time he studied hard under the direction of Franciscans. In 1295 he was set free and James II of Aragon wished his sister to marry Louis.

He, however, was convinced that he should become a Franciscan, so he refused this offer and renounced all claim to the kingdom of Naples. He entered the Order at Rome, was professed in 1296, and ordained priest in 1297. Pope Boniface VIII had decided to promote him at once, so he was consecrated bishop of Toulouse only a few days later.

As bishop, he lived in a poverty worthy of Francis. He refused to use silver plate and jewelled cups; he wore an old patched habit in silent reproach to his worldly clergy. He said Mass every day and preached frequently. In spite of this promising start, he asked to resign his bishopric within only a few months. Whether he suspected he was ill, or whether he needed more time to adjust to his sudden promotion, we do not know. He certainly regarded the episcopate as a heavy burden. Before his petition could be answered, he fell ill at Brignolles and died there at the age of only twenty-three. He was buried in the Franciscan church at Marseilles, but his relics were later translated to Valencia by Alphonso V. One of his surviving sayings was: ‘Jesus Christ is my kingdom. If I possess him alone, I shall have all things; if I have him not, I lose all.’ He was canonized in 1317. A fine series of paintings by Simone Martini of scenes from his life is in the national museum of Naples. Feast: 19 August.

AA.SS. Aug. III (1952), 775–822; A. Van Ortroy, ‘Vita S. Ludovici episcopi Tolosani’, Anal. Boll., iv (1890), 278–353; M. R. Toynbee, St Louis of Toulouse and the Process of Canonization (1929); Bibl. SS., viii. 300–7.

Subjects: Christianity.


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