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Sainte Louise de Marillac

Today we are celebrating the Foundress of the Daughters of Charity
May 09, 2020
Guillemette Olivier
Filles de la charité

Saint Louise de Marillac was traditionally celebrated on March 15th. Since this date falls during Lent, the "Dicastery for the Causes of Saints" requested a change of date in the Vincentian liturgical calendar to allow its celebration. It is now celebrated on 9 May, the anniversary of his beatification.

But do you know who Saint Louise de Marillac is?

Discover the main lines of her life:

Louise was born in 1591, to an unknown mother. Her father Louis de Marillac came from a large family in Auvergne. At the age of 4, she was entrusted to the Royal Convent of the Dominican Sisters in Poissy. There she received a very advanced education and a classical culture in a traditional Christian atmosphere. Her father died when she was 13 years old. Louise was then placed in a home for young girls in Paris and the absence of family and the rupture with the environment to which she had become attached weighed heavily on her.

Louise prayed a lot. Inhabited by a deep faith, at the age of 21 she was already thinking about her religious vocation, feeling called by one of the most austere congregations of her time: the Capuchin nuns. Unfortunately, her frail health forced her to abandon this project.

At the age of 22, she married Antoine Le Gras, a good and pious man, secretary of the Commandments of Queen Marie de Medici. The young couple, buoyed by royal favour, were happy and gave birth to Michel. The happiness lasted only a short time, her husband fell ill and died in 1625.

Providence puts a certain Monsieur Vincent on her path. Subjugated by the contagious charity of the priest, she quickly becomes his collaborator in all his charitable actions. He sends her to visit and organize the "Charities" established in the villages, to give catechism classes, to create schools for little girls while he takes care of Michel's education.

Louise and Vincent de Paul founded together the "Company of the Daughters of Charity" on November 29, 1633, having at heart to link a life of intense prayer such as that of the cloister with an active charity towards the most needy.

It is Louise who assures the young women of their spiritual, moral and practical formation, while bringing them together regularly for the conferences given by M. Vincent.

In 1646 the Company of the Daughters of Charity was recognized by the Archbishop of Paris. Louise sent the Daughters of Charity to hospitals, to visit the galley slaves, to care for the elderly, to assist the people who were victims of war, to care for the wounded on the battlefields?

Louise and her Daughters devote themselves body and soul to all these difficult tasks, as varied as the misery has many faces.

In February 1660, Louise's health declined. She received in peace the sacrament of the sick. On March 15, Passion Monday, she who had given her whole life to God in service to the poor, gave her soul back to God. Her body still rests today at the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity: rue du Bac in Paris.

She was beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1934 by Pius XI.

John XXIII declared Saint Louise de Marillac the Patron Saint of all Christian social workers in 1960.

Sources : Nominis ; Œuvre du Berceau St Vincent ; Translated with (free version)