On February 10, 1638, French King Louis XIII, to thank (in advance!) the Virgin Mary on behalf of himself and his kingdom for the birth of a royal heir--the future Louis XIV--and to prove his absolute trust, made a vow of consecration of his person, his family and France to Our Lady of the Assumption. This vow was published as a royal edict and reads as follows (unabridged):
"God who raises kings to their throne of greatness, not being content with imparting us with the spirit befitting all earthly princes for the conduct of their people, wished to take such special care of our person and State that we cannot consider the happiness of our reign without discerning as many wonderful marks of his goodness as there were perilous accidents.
When we entered the government of this crown, the weakness of our age gave license to a few ill spirits to trouble its tranquility; but this divine hand so forcefully supported the justice of our cause that the same day witnessed the beginning and the end of those pernicious designs. On several other occasions, men's artifice and the devil's malice had caused and fomented divisions that were no less dangerous for our crown than prejudicial to the rest of our house, and it pleased God to divert evil from it with as much sweetness as justice. The heretical rebellion also had formed a party in the State, with no other aim than to divide our authority, so God used us to crush its pride, and permitted that we could rebuild his holy altars in all the places where the violence of that unjust party had removed them.
When we set about to protect our allies he gave such happy successes to our arms that in the sight of all of Europe, against the hope of all, we reestablished them in the possession of the States of which they had been deprived. If the greatest forces of this crown's enemies banded together to plot its ruin, He confounded their ambitious plans to show all nations that, since it was his providence which founded this State, his bounty is preserving it and his power defends it.
Taking the most holy and glorious Virgin as the special protectress of our kingdom, we consecrate in a particular way our person, our State, our crown and our subjects
So many evident graces have been received that we do not want to differ our gratitude or to wait for a peace which will come from the same hand who issued them and which we desire ardently, to share its fruits with the peoples we are committed to serve ; thus, bowing at the foot of his divine majesty whom we adore in three persons, before the Blessed Virgin and the sacred cross, where we venerate the accomplishment of the mysteries of our redemption through the life and death of the Son of God in our flesh, we felt compelled to consecrate ourselves to the greatness of God through his Son who lowered himself to us, and to his Son raised up to him by his mother; in whose protection we place in particular our person, State, crown and all our subjects, to obtain thereby the protection of the Holy Trinity, through his intercession and that of the whole heavenly court by his authority and example, since our hands are not pure enough to present our offering to Purity itself, we trust that the hands that were worthy to carry him will make them agreeable hosts; and it seems reasonable to think that she who mediated to obtain for us these benefits will mediate on our behalf to give thanks to God.
To this end, we have declared and we declare that, taking the very holy and glorious Virgin Mary as special protectress of our kingdom, we particularly consecrate to her our own Self, the State, our Crown and our subjects, entreating her to inspire in us a holy conduct and to so diligently defend this kingdom against the endeavors of all its enemies that, whether it suffers the plague of war or enjoys the sweetness of the peace we implore from God from the depth of our heart, it may never depart from the path of grace leading to the path to glory. And so that posterity does not fail to follow our will in the matter, as a monument and immortal sign of the present consecration that we are making, we shall build anew the great altar of the Cathedral of Paris with an image of the Virgin holding in her arms her precious Son descended from the Cross and representing us at the foot of the Son and the Mother as offering to them our crown and our scepter.
We notify the Lord Archbishop of Paris and nevertheless order him that every year, on the feast of the Assumption, he should commemorate our present declaration at High Mass, which will be said in his cathedral church, and that after that day's vespers, a procession should be made within the said church, which will be attended by all the sovereign companies and corps de ville, with the same ceremonials which are observed for the most solemn general processions. We also wish this to be done in all the churches, both in parishes as well as in monasteries of the said town and suburbs, and in all the towns, market towns and villages of the said diocese of Paris.
We similarly exhort the archbishops and bishops of our Kingdom, and nevertheless order them, to have the same solemn celebrations in their Episcopal churches, and others of their dioceses, being understood that at the said ceremony the members of parliament and other sovereign companies, and the principal officers of the towns should be present, and to notify all the people to have a special devotion to the Virgin, on that day to implore her protection, so that, under so powerful a patron, our Kingdom will be protected from all the wiles of our enemies and enjoy a good and lasting peace, that God will be served and revered in such a holy way that we and our subjects may happily reach the final end for which we have all been created, such is our wish."
Given in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the tenth day of February, in the year of grace one thousand six hundred and thirty eight and the 28th of our Reign.
When Louis XIII proclaimed the Vow, Queen Anne of Austria, his wife, was two-month pregnant. On September 5, 1638, she gave birth to a boy who received the name of Louis Dieudonné (God Given), the future Louis XIV. The feast of the Assumption, celebrated on August 15, is officially, since that vow, a French national holiday.