Seward County Community College Saints fans will get more than a sneak peek at the 2016-17 Saints and Lady Saints Thursday night. They can take a first look at the college’s new mascot, which will join athletes and fans in the Greenhouse during the upcoming season.
The mascot in knight’s armor, which the college has dubbed Louie, may be new to SCCC, but he’s been around for a long time — 800 years to be exact.
Louis IX, King of France is the only knight and crusader to be named a saint, and his life offers more than enough inspiration for students with big dreams.
Born in 1214, Louis became a king at age 12, and worked for years to unify the many parts of France. He protected the working people from oppression, promoted the notion that laws be written down, and eliminated trial by ordeal: No more walking across a bed of hot coals to prove one’s innocence.
“Louis was pretty awesome,” said Roy Allen, SCCC Assistant Athletic Director. “You hear the word ‘Saint,’ and think of a pious person, which is good — but Louie was also a guy who got things done.”
He founded a hospital for the poor, sick, and blind, in an era where the idea of medical care for everyone was still a novelty. A friend of the educated of his time, he funded the Sorbonne, or University of Paris, which remains one of the premiere institutions of higher learning worldwide.
He and his wife, Margaret, had 11 children. Louis maintained a menagerie, which included some lions and a porcupine. He kept falcons, sparrow hawks, dogs and horses. Most of all, Louis seemed to enjoy the company of other people, scholars note, especially his family and the guests he invited to meals.
Like SCCC student athletes, Louis spent significant time in physical activity. He led two Crusades in an effort to reclaim the Holy City of Jerusalem. It was a significant challenge, at which Louis failed.
Even then, he stood out as a man of excellence, scholars say.
“From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over,” notes Thomas F. Madden, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. “And yet, both the medieval and the modern soldier fight ultimately for their own world and all that makes it up. Both are willing to suffer enormous sacrifice, provided that it is in the service of something they hold dear, something greater than themselves.”
King Louis IX died at age 56 and many of his accomplishments lived after him, serving as beacons of light. Louis wrote out his ideas of government in a set of precepts which he gave to his son, Philip. They say, in essence: “Love God, do justice, and serve the poor.”
When Louis “visits” the SCCC Greenhouse, Allen said,
“We hope he’ll inspire our fans. There’s a lot to admire about somebody who made the most of the opportunities he had, and was willing to keep fighting no matter what the odds.”
With support from the SCCC Booster Club, Allen said, the athletic department is in the process of ordering the mascot suit for use during the upcoming season.