Relic procession at St. Francis de Sales Oratory honors life and faith of St. Louis IX

The celebration of St. Louis last weekend at St. Francis de Sales Oratory was certainly fit for a king.

Nearly 250 people in their Sunday finest — many young families, with women in dresses and lace veils and men in crisp suits — processed the streets surrounding the south St. Louis Oratory Oct. 19 with a relic of St. Louis IX, King of France. The procession was followed by a sermon from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, evening prayer sung in Latin and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The evening event was among activities marking the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis this past year. The archdiocese's celebration of the anniversary began in August.

Obtained by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the relic of St. Louis is part of the oratory's collection of "relic treasures," according to Canon Michael Wiener. The priest noted that the oratory's collection also includes two pieces of the True Cross of Christ.

According Canon Wiener, it's "permissible and profitable" to venerate the relics of the saints. "The bodies of the saints were living members of Christ and Temples of the Holy Ghost. They will again be awakened and glorified, and through them God bestows many benefits on mankind," he said.

In his sermon, Archbishop Carlson described the city's patron saint as "a husband, a father, a man of justice and faith." St. Louis once said that the day of his baptism was far more important than being crowned King of France in 1234.

"St. Louis served his subjects with kindness, building hospitals and homes for those in need as well as serving food to the poor," the archbishop said.

St. Louis serves as a great example in making our city a better place.

"There are challenges in our city — poverty, violence, injustice and a lack of respect for human life, to name a few," he said. "With courage may we dare to dream how we can help. God is influencing every good thing we do."

As the procession proceeded around the oratory, neighbors on nearby Iowa Avenue came out of their homes to see what was going on. Esmeralda Herrejon and her family from O'Fallon were visiting friends when they heard the sharp blasts of a bagpipe. Herrejon, who attends Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie, said she had never seen an outdoor procession like this.

"I see it as a public display of faith," she said. "It's good to see people are still believers."

Five Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus heard about the procession and vespers through a friend and wanted to be present. Sister Maria Josefa, a novice and native St. Louisan, said she has enjoyed spending the past year of St. Louis celebrations to reflect, going back to the roots of the city's patron.

She called St. Louis' remarks about the importance of his baptism, simply, "Beautiful."

"As religious, our vows are a deepening of our baptism," she said. "It's what makes us children of God."

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)