Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Commemorating St Louis

Today is the feast of St Louis, who reigned as King of France from 1226 until his death at Tunis whilst on crusade in 1270.

His canonization by Pope Boniface VIII at the request of his grandson King Philip IV was one of the happier incidents in their relationship, and St Louis became the beau ideal of French Kingship down to the regrettable events after 1789 - not least the use of the phrase "Son of St Louis, go up to Heaven " by the abbe Edgeworth to King Louis XVI on the scaffold in January 1793. He has remained  a model of Christian Kingship, thanks both to his exemplary life and to such texts at the life by his friend and companion on his first Crusade, Joinville. Louis has remained a favoured name for princes over the succeeding centuries.

Here is an early example of devotion to him in fourteenth century stained glass from the apse of the abbey church of St Pere-en-Valleee (St Pierre) at Chartres:


Detail of St Louis and St Gildouin
Gilduin was a Breton saint who refused a bishopric offered him by Pope Gregory VII, and whose shrine was in the abbey.

Image: Gordon Plumb on Flickr photostream

.That inexhaustible photographer of things medieval Genevra Kornbluth has links on her photo-site to a 1307 enamel funerary plaque with Guy de Meyos kneeling before St. Louis, and a 1927 figure of St. Louis holding an 1833 reliquary that contains the relics from the Sainte Chapelle which can be viewed at http://www.kornbluthphoto.com/Saints3.html row 3.
My post from two years ago about him can be read at St Louis.
This is one of the days in the year when I wear my fleur de lys badge in my lapel. I bought it when I visited the remains of the abbey at Jumieges in 2004 - the French equivalent of English Heritage sells these badges of  fleur de lys, Napoleonic bees and heads of Marianne at their sites - one can express one's constitutional preferences for the government of France in a very pluralistic way!

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