ST. LOUIS — The Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement Sunday morning in response to recent calls for the removal of the statue of King Louis IX, which sits atop Art Hill in Forest Park.
Louis IX, a Catholic saint and ruler of France during the 13th century, is "an example of an imperfect man who strived to live a life modeled after the life of Jesus Christ," the statement reads.
The archdiocese cites reforms that the city's namesake implemented in France to help the poor and minister to the sick, including opening hospitals and sharing his daily meals with "numerous beggars."
The statement does not specifically address criticism that Louis IX led a violent Crusade against Muslims in the Middle East, but says the current "energy of change" should focus on policies that will dismantle racism rather than seeking to "erase history."
On Saturday, about 200 people gathered near the statue, with some calling for the sword-wielding king to come down, while others — many of them Catholic — prayed near its base.
At least two groups gathered Saturday at the statue on Art Hill, one calling for the removal of King Louis IX, and the other praying for the saint to stay.