On March 15, the Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Louise de Marillac. Louise was born in 1591, the daughter of Louis de Marillac, an important member of high society in Paris. Members of Louis’s family belonged to the French royal court, so Louise was raised among the French royalty. She was educated at a monastery outside of Paris where her aunt was a nun. As a teenager, she desired to become a nun, but the community did not accept her. Although she was deeply disappointed, her family advised her that to get married.
And so Louise married Antoine Le Gras, the secretary to the Queen of France. Together, they had a son, Michel. Louise was very content with her life as a wife and mother, but only a few years after their marriage, Antoine became very ill. For nine years, Louise devoted herself to nursing him.
After the death of her husband, Louise decided to devote her life completely to the Church. Louise became friends with Vincent de Paul. He invited her to work with him to serve those in need. Vincent had founded the Ladies of Charity. These wealthy women donated money to the poor, but they did not want to actually work among the poor people. Louise found women from the country who were willing to devote their time to such service. This group became known as the Daughters of Charity. The group expanded to care not only for poor people, but also for orphans, the elderly, and those who suffered from mental illness. Louise said, “Be diligent in serving the poor. Love the poor, honor them, my children, as you would honor Christ himself.”
Louise served others until her death in 1660. However, her good will still lives on in the Daughters of Charity. This community of sisters continues to serve those in need.
Although Louise came from a wealthy family, she was aware of the problems people who were poor and sick faced. She devoted herself to helping them in any way she could. From Saint Louise, we can learn the importance of loving and serving people in need.
Download the primary Saint Louise de Marillac Activity for children as you prepare to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Louise de Marillac. In this activity, children are asked to plan a project with their family members to help people in need. The activity will help children organize their plan.