Thursday, January 23, 2014

182. Images of the Boy Bishop: SAN LUIS OBISPO

IVORY IMAGE OF SAN LUIS OBISPO. An heirloom image of a family from Lucban, Quezon.

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa is known primarily as the patron saint of Lucban, Quezon and Baler, Aurora. Little is known of him in other places of the Philippines, but in the United States fore example, the mission house named after him (Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse), occupies a prominent place in California history, it being the fifth mission founded by San Junipero Serra in 1772.

SAN LUIS OBISPO. The oldest known San Luis image from Lucban, which used to occupy a niche in the facade of the old church.

St. Louis was born on 9 February 1274 to Charles of Anjou and Maria Arpad of Hungary  in Brignoles, Provence, and spent his childhood years in Nocera, Italy. While his father was at war, he was taken to Barcelona as a captive and studied under Franciscan friars for 7 years.

LUCBAN'S SAN LUIS. Another local image of the boy bishop from the church of Lucban.

When he became of age, he was named archbishop of Lyon despite his captivity; he assumed his father's secular titles upon his father's death, gaining his freedom in 1295.

SAN LUIS IN AN URNA. An antique tabletop image of San Luis Obispo, from a Lucban family.

Thereafter, he went to Rome and gave up all his royal inheritance in favor of another brother, Robert of Anjou. He took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and two years later, in 1297, Louis was consecrated Bishop of Toulouse. There, he earned a saintly reputation with his activities--feeding and serving the poor.

HEIRLOOM IMAGE OF SAN LUIS. Carved in the round, this private devotional image of San Luis is another Lucban family heirloom.

He died at age 23, exhausted from his labors, on 19 June 1297. His case was promoted by Pope Clement V in 1307, and he was canonized by John XXII on 7 April 1317.

SAN LUIS ENSHRINED IN A RETABLO. A 1960s image of San Luis carved by a Bicolano craftsman rests in a side altar of the Lucban church.

His cult became popular first in Medieval Hungary, but the Franciscans spread the devotion in Europe, observing his feast day in their calendar and taking his relics in 1423 to Valencia, where he was made patron saint.

SAN LUIS FOLK SANTO. An offering from one of Manila's antique shops. Personal Collection.

As expected, very few images of San Luis de Obispo can be found in the Philippines, mostly concentrated in Lucban.  Rarer still are home devotional santos of this young bishop-saint, a few of which are shown here.

SAN LUIS, POPULAR STYLE. A naive carving of San Luis Obispo, with very folksy qualities. Private Collection.

His iconography shows the boy bishop as a young, beardless religious, attired in a bishop's robe and holding a crozier and a book, often with a discarded crown by his feet.

(Many thanks to Mr. Jayson Maceo, for the use of his photos)

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