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Saint Louise de Marillac, born near Meux, France, lost her mother when she was still a child, her beloved father when she was but 15. Her desire to become a nun was discouraged by her confessor, and a marriage was arranged. One son was born of this union. But she soon found herself nursing her beloved husband through a long illness that finally led to his death. Louise was fortunate to have a wise and sympathetic counselor, St. Francis de Sales, and then his friend, the Bishop of Belley, France. Both of these men were available to her only periodically. But from an interior illumination she understood that she was to undertake a great work under the guidance of another person she had not yet met. This was the holy priest M. Vincent, later to be known as St. Vincent de Paul.

At first he was reluctant to be her confessor, busy as he was with his “Confraternities of Charity.” Members were aristocratic ladies of charity who were helping him nurse the poor and look after neglected children, a real need of the day. But the ladies were busy with many of their own concerns and duties. His work needed many more helpers, especially ones who were peasants themselves and therefore close to the poor and could win their hearts. He also needed someone who could teach them and organize them.

Only over a long period of time, as Vincent de Paul became more acquainted with Louise, did he come to realize that she was the answer to his prayers. She was intelligent, self-effacing and had physical strength and endurance that belied her continuing feeble health. The missions he sent her on eventually led to four simple young women joining her. Her rented home in Paris became the training center for those accepted for the service of the sick and poor. Growth was rapid and soon there was need of a so-called rule of life, which Louise herself, under the guidance of Vincent, drew up for the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though he preferred “Daughters” of Charity).

He had always been slow and prudent in his dealings with Louise and the new group. He said that he had never had any idea of starting a new community, that it was God who did everything. “Your convent,” he said, “will be the house of the sick; your cell, a hired room; your chapel, the parish church; your cloister, the streets of the city or the wards of the hospital.” Their dress was to be that of the peasant women. It was not until years later that Vincent de Paul would finally permit four of the women to take annual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It was still more years before the company would be formally approved by Rome and placed under the direction of Vincent’s own congregation of priests.

Many of the young women were illiterate and it was with reluctance that the new community undertook the care of neglected children. Louise was busy helping wherever needed despite her poor health. She traveled throughout France, establishing her community members in hospitals, orphanages and other institutions. At her death on March 15, 1660, the congregation had more than 40 houses in France. Six months later St. Vincent de Paul followed her in death.

Louise de Marillac was canonized in 1934 and declared patroness of social workers in 1960.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. He said: just got on with it. It is a tough job but it all about the knack, when you loading wagons people try to use brute strength, but it also the technique. McDermott soon started up his own round, taking over from a local retired merchant. So, after dorking around this morning I made some cloth baggies. These were so easy and fun I made a little tutorial for them. There no velcro on these-super easy.

  2. I am sorry to say here the image which is updated as St. Louise de Marillac is not her image but it’s St.Jeanne Antide Thouret, France who is the founder of Sisters of Charity of St.Jeanne Antide Thouret. It would be better the one who updated the image to find out the proper one. Thank you!
    Happy Feast to all …….
    God Bless!

  3. st louise de marillac intercede for my family esppecially niece and grandson that God may deliver and heal them from any illness and mental disease they may be suffering and direct their path to love and accept Jesus as their lord and savior. thanks in advance for answered prayers. mama mary continue to plead with your son on behalf of this family, amen amen and amen.

  4. O Gracious God, Saint Louise devoted her life to helping Saint Vincent de Paul serve the needs of the poor. She often taught: “Be diligent in serving the poor. Love the poor, honor them, as you would honor Christ Himself.” I lift up to You the programs in my church and community that help the needy, and the people who do the work. Multiply the donations. Teach me how to think generously. Give me a heart that desires to care for the poor as if I were serving Jesus directly, and help me to see Jesus in each person that begs on the street corner or church door. Saint Louise, pray for us. Amen.

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