St Louis was born at Poissy, France, on 25 April 1214, some eight hundred years ago. He was the sixth child of King Louis VIII of France and his Queen, Blanche of Castile.
Crowned king of France at the age of twelve in the Cathedral at Rheims, his father having died three weeks previously, his coronation was accompanied by specially-composed music, “Gaude, Felix Francia” – Rejoice, fortunate France! France would indeed come to rejoice under him.
The traditional History of the Order of the Crown of Thorns informs us that this Order was founded by authority of St Louis in 1239. A later French King, Philippe IV le Bel, (who reigned from 1285 to 1314), the grandson of St Louis, laid the first foundations of the Order in direct opposition to the Order of Templars, which he dissolved in 1308, appropriating all its wealth; all the spiritual and chivalric ideology of the Templars survived in the new Order, of which King Philippe IV became the first Grand Master. In the modern era, the Order was re-founded by the first Prince-Abbot of San Luigi in 1883, and independently by the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch in 1891, these two branches being formally united in 1899.
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