Our Name

We were named after Ste. Louise de Marillac.

A saint of the Catholic Church, Known for being close to St. Vincent de Paul
and having founded the "Daughters of Charity."
Ste. Louise de Marillac

Birth: 12 August 1591
Death: March 15 1660 
Nationality: French 
Beatification: 9 May 1920 by Benedict XV 
Canonization: 11 March 1934 by Pius XI


Her early life
Louise was born out of wedlock on August 12, 1591[1] near Le Meux, in the Department of Oise, in the Picardy region of France. She never knew her mother. Louis de Marillac, Lord of Ferrires,[2] claimed her as his natural daughter yet not his legal heir. Louis was a member of the prominent de Marillac family and was a widower at the time of Louise’s birth. Her uncle, Michel de Marillac, was a major figure in the court of Queen Marie de' Medici and, though Louise was not a member of the Queen’s court, she lived and worked among the French aristocracy. Thus Louise grew up amid the affluent society of Paris, but without a stable home life. When her father married his new wife, Antoinette Le Camus, she refused to accept Louise as part of their family. Nevertheless, Louise was cared for and received an excellent education at the royal monastery of Poissy near Paris, where her aunt was a Dominican nun.
Louise de Marillac was schooled among the country’s elite and was introduced to the arts and humanities as well as to a deep spiritual life. She remained at Poissy until her father’s death when she was twelve years old. Louise then stayed with a good, devout spinster, from who she learned household management skills as well as the secrets of herbal medicine.[3] Around the age of fifteen, Louise felt drawn to the cloistered life. She later made application to theCapuchin nuns in Paris, but was refused admission. It is not clear if her refusal was due to her continual poor health or other reasons, but her spiritual director’s prophetic response to her application was that God had “other plans” for her.
Devastated by this refusal, Louise was at a loss as to the next step in her spiritual development. By twenty-two years of age, her family had convinced her that marriage was the best alternative. Her uncle arranged for her to marry Antoine Le Gras, secretary to Queen Marie. Antoine was an ambitious young man who seemed destined for great accomplishments. Louise and Antoine were wed in the fashionable Church of St. Gervaise on February 5, 1613. In October, the couple had their only child, Michel. Louise grew to truly love Antoine and was an attentive mother to their son. Along with being devoted to her family, Louise was also active in ministry in her parish. She held a leadership role in the Ladies of Charity, an organization of wealthy women dedicated to assisting persons oppressed by poverty and disease. 

Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul
 
Louise de Marillac and Vincent de Paul met around the time of Antoine's passing. Widowed and lacking financial means, she had to move. Vincent de Paul lived near her new dwelling. 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. He also needed someone who could teach and organize them. 
Over the next four years, Vincent and Louise communicated often through letters and personal meetings, with Vincent guiding Louise to greater balance in a life of moderation, peace and calm. In 1629, Vincent invited Louise to get involved in his work with the Confraternities of Charity. She found great success in these endeavors. Then, in 1632, Louise made aspiritual retreat seeking inner guidance regarding her next step. Her intuition led her to understand that it was time to intensify her ministry with poor and needy persons, while still maintaining a deep spiritual life. Louise, at age 42, drawn to focus on mission, communicated this aspiration to Monsieur Vincent. By the end of 1633, he too had received the guidance needed for them to bring the Daughters of Charity into existence.

Company of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul 

Until 1964, the traditional religious habit included a large, starchedcornette.
In 17th-century France, the charitable care of the poor was completely unorganized. Many underprivileged people were victims of non-existent care or poor hospital conditions. The Ladies of Charity, founded by Vincent years earlier, provided some care and monetary resources, but this wasn’t enough. For, though the wealthy Ladies of Charity had the funds to aid poor people, they did not have the time or temperament to live a life of service among the poor. Vincent and Louise realized that the direct service of poor persons was not easy for the ladies of nobility or of the bourgeoisie. It was difficult to overcome the barriers of social class. These women took meals, distributed clothing and gave care and comfort. They visited the slums dressed in beautiful dresses next to people they considered to be peasants. The tension between the ideal of service and social constraints was real. The families of the ladies did not always favor these works.[6] It soon became clear that many of the ladies were unfitted to cope with the actual conditions. The practical work of nursing the poor in their own homes, caring for neglected children and dealing with often rough husbands and fathers, was best accomplished by women of similar social status to the principal sufferers. The aristocratic ladies were better suited to the equally necessary work of raising money and dealing with correspondence. 
The need of organization in work for the poor suggested to de Paul the forming of a confraternity among the women of his parish in Châtillon-les-Dombes. It was so successful that it spread from the rural districts to Paris, where noble ladies often found it hard to give personal care to the needs of the poor. The majority sent their servants to minister to those in need, but often the work was considered unimportant. Vincent de Paul remedied this by referring young women who inquired about serving persons in need to go to Paris and devote themselves to this ministry under the direction of the Ladies of Charity. These young girls formed the nucleus of the Daughters of Charity.
Louise found the help she needed in young, humble country women who had the energy and the proper attitude to deal with people weighed down by destitution and suffering. She began working with a group of them and saw a need for common life and formation. Consequently, she invited four of these country girls to live in her home in the Rue des Fosses‐Saint‐Victor and began training them to care for those in need.  She also taught them how to deepen their spiritual life. "Love the poor and honor them as you would honor Christ Himself, Louise explained. This was the foundation of the Company of the Daughters of Charity, who received official approbation in 1655.
At first the Company served the needs of the sick and poor in their homes. Louise's work with these young women developed into a system of pastoral care at theHôtel-Dieu, the oldest and largest hospital in Paris. Their work became well known and the Daughters were invited to Angers to take over management of the nursing services of the hospital there.[8] This was the first ministry outside Paris for the fledgling community, so Louise herself made the arduous journey there in the company of three Sisters. After completing negotiations with the city officials and the hospital managers, Louise instituted collaboration among the doctors, nurses and others to form a comprehensive team. This model was highly successful and is still in use today by the Daughters of Charity. Under the guidance of Louise de Marillac, the Daughters expanded their scope of service to include orphanages, institutions for the elderly and mentally ill, prisons, and the battlefield. This mobility was a major innovation in an era when consecrated women remained in the monastery.[6] The Daughters of Charity were unlike the established religious communities at that time. Up to this point, all religious women were behind cloister walls and performed a ministry of contemplative prayer.
Their distinctive habit, a grey wool tunic with a large headdress or cornette of white linen, was the usual dress of Breton peasant women of the 17th century and later. 
In working with her sisters, Louise emphasized a balanced life, as Vincent de Paul had taught her. It was the integration of contemplation and activity that made Louise's work so successful. She wrote near the end of her life, "Certainly it is the great secret of the spiritual life to abandon to God all that we love by abandoning ourselves to all that He wills. 
Louise led the Company of Daughters until her death. A present-day observer might surmise that Vincent de Paul was the heart of the Daughters of Charity, while Louise was the head. This isn’t quite true, for Louise had a big heart, too. However, this statement is made to give tribute to Louise’s strong intellect, organizational skills and her ability to get things accomplished. Louise was positive and exuberant in her energy, always urging her Sisters to do more and do it well. But along with the activity, she also modeled love. Nearing her death, she wrote to her Sisters: “Take good care of the service of the poor. Above all, live together in great union and cordiality, loving one another in imitation of the union and life of our Lord. Pray earnestly to the Blessed Virgin, that she might be your only Mother.
After increasingly ill health, Louise de Marillac died on March 15, 1660, six months before the death of her dear friend and mentor, Vincent de Paul. She was 68 years of age. By the time of her death, the Daughters of Charity had more than 40 houses in France. Her Sisters have always been held in high repute and have made foundations in all parts of the world.

Veneration
 
The body of Saint Louise de Marillac in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at 140 Rue du Bac, in Paris, France.
Louise de Marillac was beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1920 and, on March 11, 1934, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI. Her feast day is March 15. To this day, her remains are enshrined in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity at 140 rue du Bac, in Paris, France. She is mistakenly referred to as an incorrupt saint; the body enshrined in the chapel is actually a wax effigy containing her bones. She was declared Patroness of Christian Social Workers by Pope John XXIII in 1960. 

Legacy

St. Louise de Marillac Parish is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
St. Louise de Marillac Parish is located in Bellevue, Washington.
St. Louise de Marillac Parish and School is located in LaGrange Park, Illinois
St Louise's Comprehensive College, Falls Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland. 
St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Covina, California
St. Louise de Marillac Parish is located in Montreal, Quebec
Marillac Medical Clinic for the Poor in Grand Junction, Colorado