Catholic officials say protesters calling for the removal of a statue of St. Louis' namesake should consider all that the imperfect man did to help the poor and the sick.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Catholic officials say protesters calling for the removal of a statue of St. Louis' namesake should consider all that the imperfect man did to help the poor and the sick.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis said in a statement Sunday that King Louis IX is "an example of an imperfect man who strived to live a life modeled after the life of Jesus Christ."

The archdiocese said the saint and ruler of France during the 13th century opened hospitals and shared his daily meals with beggars. 

The statement did not directly address criticism that Louis IX led a violent Crusade against Muslims in the Middle East. But the archdiocese said those seeking change should focus on policies that will dismantle racism and create a more equal society instead of seeking to "erase history."

On Saturday, roughly 200 people gathered near the statue of the sword-wielding king with some calling for it to come down while others — many of them Catholic — prayed near its base.

The protests over King Louis IX' statue comes amid calls  across the country to remove other monuments, particularly those honoring Confederate leaders.