“Louis’s insistence on taking the cross [in December 1244] and journeying to the Holy Land was an outgrowth of his deep faith and love for Christ. He yearned to see Jerusalem under Christian control once more. His desire was so great that he was prepared to risk his personal and royal fortunes on the expedition. He was sovereign of the wealthiest region in all Christendom and the king of the most populous Christian country. There was much to lose by going on Crusade, but King St. Louis IX knew that the eternal reward greatly outweighed the temporal risk.
The thirteenth-century was the “century of St. Louis,” as no man more exemplified the tenor of the age than the saintly king of the Franks. Louis was blond, slender, handsome, gentle though firm, decisive in policy and generous in charity. He was a devout and dutiful son and a loving husband and father. Along with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Louis was the most important political figure of the thirteenth century and the central figure in Christendom. Those two men could not have been more opposite in all aspects of their lives. Frederick was the “Crusader without faith” whereas Louis was the “perfect Crusader.” One man seemed to eschew all religious faith, whereas the other embraced it and was declared a saint of the Church. Frederick kept a harem of Muslim women, whereas, uncharacteristic of the age for monarchy, Louis was a monogamous husband. Louis was a product of his times, but he also shaped the era in which he lived, and his influence (and intercession) continues to the modern world.
There was perhaps no greater king in the history of France. He governed his realm peacefully and justly for forty-four years, following three principles: devotion to God, self-discipline, and affection for his people. Even in an age of faith, the king’s personal piety and sanctity stood out. He wore simple clothing, especially after his return from the Crusade, and kept a regimented prayer life. He awoke each night at midnight to participate with his royal chaplains in the Liturgy of the Hours, and said fifty Hail Marys each evening, kneeling and standing for each prayer. Louis’s prayer life was augmented by penitential practices, including fasting, the wearing of a hair shirt, weekly confession, and the special personal mortification of not laughing on Fridays. He was concerned for his own salvation, but even more so for the salvation of his subjects, which he considered “his highest duty.”
-contemporary depiction ~1230 AD
…The Egyptian Campaign Begins
The French fleet arrived at Damietta on June 4, 1249, and once more the Muslim garrison prepared to fight Crusaders. The next morning, the Crusaders undertook an amphibious landing with Louis in the lead. When warriors waded to shore, the Muslim garrison commander, Fakhr al-Din, saw the strength of the Crusader army and decided to withdraw from the city to the sultan’s camp several miles away.
The city, now emptied of its defenders, was soon occupied by the French Crusaders in a surprisingly easy undertaking, which was the opposite of the siege during the Fifth Crusade [a 17-month siege in 1218-19]. Louis found stockpiles of food, equipment, and material that the Muslims left behind in their hasty retreat. The king decided to spend the summer in Damietta while waiting for his brother Alphonse and other Crusaders to arrive.
As winter approached, Louis thought an attack on Cairo would give the Christians complete control of Egypt and finish the task left undone by the Fifth Crusade, so he gave the command to march there in late November, 1249. He left a garrison and his five-months-pregnant queen in Damietta, and ordered the fleet to shadow the army’s movement offshore…”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom