Louis IX was born in Poissy, France in 1214 to Louis VIII and Blanche of Castille. He succeeded to the throne at the age of twelve under the regency of his mother. On his twenty-first birthday he assumed full kingship. He was well known for protecting the French clergy from secular leaders and for strictly enforcing laws against blasphemy. His compassion for the poor and suffering people had been obvious to all who knew him and when he became king, over a hundred poor people ate in his house on ordinary days. Often the king served these guests himself.
Louis' patronage of the arts drove much innovation in Gothic art and architecture, and the style of his court radiated throughout Europe by the purchase of art objects from Parisian masters for export. He also was a reformer and developed French royal justice, in which the king is the supreme judge to whom anyone was able to appeal to seek the amendment of a judgment. He banned trials by ordeal, tried to prevent the private wars that were plaguing the country, and introduced the presumption of innocence in criminal procedure.
Because of this, Elpida East, one of our homes in the Community Outreach and Disability Service ministry, has adopted St. Louis IX as their patron Saint. The staff at Elpida provide help to formerly incarcerated and help them reintegrate into society.