Tuesday, December 20

Lessons from the saints - Blessed Charles the Good

This is Charles the good, prince of Denmark, Count of Flanders and related to the Capetian rulers of France through marriage.  He was martyred while at mass, hacked to pieces over the love of money.

You see, Charles, like my beloved St. Homobonus, used his wealth and power for the benefit of the people.  He reformed laws to promote a more equal system of justice, clothed the naked, fed the hungry and distributed alms to the poor.  During the famine of 1124-25, he enacted laws to punish those who were price-gouging as well as established food distribution points, at one juncture giving away 7,800 loaves of bread in a single day.  Despite his exceptional generosity (even for the day), Flanders' coffers were not emptied.

The nobles committing the price-gouging (including one Fr. Bertulf FitzErembald) conspired and sent knights entered the church where Charles was at mass and hacked him to pieces on the spot.  Upon discovering the demise and circumstances surrounding the murder, the Flemish peasantry seized all involved and tortured them to death.

What can we learn from Charles?

That charity (in the general, handing out stuff meaning) does not mean putting yourself in the poorhouse to help those who already live there. 

That those who have means, influence and power have a greater responsibility to use that power for the good of all.

[note: originally written 2 March 2011]

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