This Saint was little nephew to St. Louis, King of France, and nephew, by his mother, to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. He was born at Brignoles, in Provence, in. 1274. He was a Saint from the cradle, and from his childhood made it his earnest study to do nothing which was not directed to the divine service, and with a view only to eternity. Even his recreations he referred to this end, and chose only such as were serious and seemed barely necessary for the exercise of the body and preserving the vigor of the mind.
His walks usually led him to some church or religious house. It was his chief delight to hear the servants of God discourse of mortification or the most perfect practices of piety. His modesty and recollection in the church inspired with devotion all who saw him. When he was only seven years old his mother found him often lying in the night on a mat which was spread on the floor near his bed, which he did out of an early spirit of penance.
In 1284 our Saint’s father, Charles II., then Prince of Salerno, was taken prisoner in a sea-fight by the King of Arragon, and was only released on condition that he sent into Arragon, as hostages, fifty gentlemen and three of his sons, one of whom was our Saint. Louis was set at liberty in 1294, by a treaty concluded between the King of Naples, his father, and James II., King of Arragon, one condition of which was the marriage of his sister Blanche with the King of Arragon. Both courts had at the same time extremely at heart the project of a double marriage, and that the princess of Majorca, sister to King James of Arragon, should be married to Louis, but the Saint’s resolution of dedicating himself to God was inflexible, and he resigned his right to the crown of Naples, which he begged his father to confer on his next brother, Robert.
The opposition of his family obliged the superiors of the Friar Minors to refuse for some time to admit him into their body, wherefore he took holy orders at Naples. The pious Pope St. Celestine had nominated him Archbishop of Lyons in 1294; but, as he had not then taken the tonsure, he found means to defeat that project. Boniface VIII. gave him a dispensation to receive priestly orders in the twenty-third year of his age, and afterward sent him a like dispensation for the episcopal character, together with his nomination to the archbishopric of Toulouse, and a severe injunction, in virtue of holy obedience, to accept the same. However, he first made his religious profession among the Friar Minors on Christmas eve, 1296, and received the episcopal consecration in the beginning of the February following. He travelled to his bishopric as a poor religious, but was received at Toulouse with the veneration due to a Saint and the magnificence that became a prince. His modesty, mildness, and devotion inspired a love of piety in all who beheld him.
It was his first care to provide for the relief of the indigent, and his first visits were made to the hospitals and the poor. In his apostolical labors, he abated nothing of his austerities, said Mass every day, and preached frequently. Being obliged to go into Provence for certain very urgent ecclesiastical affairs, he fell sick at the castle of Brignoles. Finding his end draw near, he received the Viaticum on his knees, melting in tears, and in his last moments ceased not to repeat the Hail Mary. He died on the 19th of August, 1297, being only twenty-three years and six months old.