St. Louise de Marillac, patron saint of our parish was born in Paris, France on August 12, 1591. By the time she was 13 years old, both of her parents had died. Louise was educated at the Dominican Convent at Puissy, France where she took care of her aunt (a religious at the convent).
At age 16, Louise developed a strong desire to enter the Capuchin Convent (Daughters of the Passion). Her spiritual director at that time dissuaded her, however, and it became necessary for her to decide on a different vocation. Interpreting her director’s advice, she accepted the hand of Antoine LeGras, a young, wealthy secretary to the queen. A son, Michael, was born of this marriage on October 13, 1613.
Louise was greatly influenced by her religious contemporaries; St. Francis de Sales, St. Vincent de Paul and Bishop Camus. During her marriage and especially after the death of her husband of twelve years, Louise dedicated herself to the abandoned children in the streets and visiting and bringing food to the poor and imprisoned. In 1633, together with Vincent de Paul, Louise founded a community of sisters known as the Vincentian Sisters of Charity. They worked with the poor and homeless and soon hospitals and orphanages were established in Paris as a result of their tireless efforts.
St. Louise died on March 15, 1660, at the age of 69. Vincent de Paul died soon after. Vincent’s good works were quickly recognized and efforts to canonize him as saint began soon, but Louise had to wait 200 years for her wonderful, unselfish dedication to God to become known. It was only in 1934 that she became a saint.
The Vincentian Sisters of Charity could not have been established without her, nor could the work among orphans, sick galley slaves and the sick and the poor of Paris have been done without Louise’s efforts. “Recognition and reward meant little to her”, said Pope John XXIII as he proclaimed her patroness of social workers in 1960.