In recent weeks, anti-Catholicism has begun to take root in the Black Lives Matter movement with the desecration of monuments dedicated to St. Junipero Serra and now St. Louis IX, the beloved French king upon whom the city of St. Louis, Missouri is named after.
Over the weekend, as Black Lives Matter activists desecrated the statue dedicated to St. Louis IX amid calls to remove it and change the city’s name due to his participation in the Crusades, the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement defending the saint’s honor and the city’s namesake.
“The history of the statue of St. Louis, the King is one founded in piety and reverence before God, and for non-believers, respect for one’s neighbor,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “The reforms that St. Louis implemented in French government focused on impartial justice, protecting the rights of his subjects, steep penalties for royal officials abusing power, and a series of initiatives to help the poor.”
The archdiocese then recalled the saint’s profound work of charity, setting an example for all the rich and powerful to follow for ages to come.
“King Louis IX’s renowned work in charity helped elevate him to Sainthood. His daily suppers were shared with numerous beggars, whom he invited to the royal table. On many evenings, he would not let them leave before he washed their feet,” said the statement. “He personally paid to feed more than 100 poor Parisians every day. His care for the sick was equally moving; St. Louis frequently ministered to lepers. He also created a number of hospitals, including one for the blind and another for ex-prostitutes.”
“For Catholics, St. Louis is an example of an imperfect man who strived to live a life modeled after the life of Jesus Christ,” the statement continued. “For St. Louisans, he is a model for how we should care for our fellow citizen, and a namesake with whom we should be proud to identify. The sword on his statue is not raised for warfare, but rather is held with the blade down—a symbol of peace. In his recent statement on Racism, Justice and Peace.”
The statement concluded with a call to create a more just and equal society while condemning racism in all its forms.
“As Catholics, we believe that each person—no matter their race, religion, background or belief—is created in the image and likeness of God,” it concluded. “As such, all should be treated with love, respect and dignity. We should not seek to erase history, but recognize and learn from it, while working to create new opportunities for our brothers and sisters.”
As noted by Catholic News Agency, activists began rallying at the “Apotheosis of St. Louis, which has been a fixture in front of the St. Louis Art Museum for over a century. Leaders of the protests have called for the statues’ removal because of St. Louis’ ‘antisemitism [and] Islamophobia.’”
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