Acta Sanctorum: St. Louise de Marillac (Mar 15)
March 15, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
March 15
St. Louise de Marillac

Louise was born out of wedlock in 1591. She had never known who her mother was, but was raised by her father Louis de Marillac – a member of the aristocracy – and acknowledged her as his own. Louise found it difficult to adjust when her father married. She was sent to study in a convent where her aunt was a religious; it was there that her desire to enter into consecrated life grew. When her father died and resources became limited, she lived in a boarding house where she was able to hone her domestic and organizational skills, as well as the secrets of herbal medicine.

In 1613, she married Antoine le Gras, secretary to the Queen Mother of France, but their marital happiness was short-lived because of his poor health. As a young matron, Louise traveled and socialized among both the royalty and aristocracy of France, but she was equally comfortable with the poor, no matter their desperate situations.

Suffering was never far from Louise. In 1623, when illness was wasting Antoine (who died in 1625), she had fallen into depression. While at prayer, Louise had a vision in which she saw herself serving the poor and living the evangelical counsels in community. She wrote this “lumière” (“Pentecost experience”) on parchment and carried it in her person as a reminder that God was constantly guiding her life despite her difficulties. In that vision a priest appeared to her, whom she later identified as Vincent de Paul – her future confidant and collaborator in ministry.

In 1629, Louise assisted Vincent de Paul in the Confraternities of Charity in the parishes of France, which she found therapeutic. She visited them to uphold the quality of the services they rendered, reviewed financial accounts for stewardship reports, and most important of all, encouraged the workers and volunteers to see Christ in those whom they served.

Through this, she gained a deep knowledge of the needs of the poor, developed her management skills and identified effective structures for service. In 1633, she founded the Daughters of Charity when she began to train young women in her own home to address the needs of poor persons and to gain support from their life together. Louise provided leadership and expert management to the evolving network of services she and Vincent inspired.

Louise, who died on March 15, 1660 just a few months before Vincent de Paul, was beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1934. In 1960 Pope John XXIII proclaimed her the Patroness of Christian Social Workers. She lives on in the congregations and organizations she had established and inspired, as they continue to bring the Good News to the poor through their work.


Scripture  (Isaiah 58:1a, 5-11)

Thus says the Lord:
Shout for all you are worth, raise your voice like a trumpet.
Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
—it is the Lord Yahweh who speaks—
to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor,
to clothe the man you see to be naked 
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn 
and your wound be quickly healed over
your integrity will go before you and the glory of Yahweh behind you.
Cry, and Yahweh will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here’.
If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked work,
if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
Yahweh will always guide you, giving you relief in desert places.
He will give strength to your bones 
and you shall be like a watered garden.
like a spring of water whose waters never run dry.
(Year B). All truly Christian souls should have great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, especially in her role as Mother of God. They should honor her, also, because of the virtues with which God endowed her for accomplishment of His holy designs.
Her eminent dignity obliges us to honor her in some way each day. The best way to do this is to unite ourselves to the Church, especially at those times which it has set aside for the express purpose of paying homage to Mary. We should rejoice with her and congratulate her for the choice which God made of her by uniting His humanity and His divinity within her womb. We should also implore her to assist us to preserve in our own hearts a close union with God.
When we are filled with gratitude for the graces that God has bestowed upon us through the Incarnation and the exemplary life of Jesus Christ, let us look upon the Blessed Virgin as the channel through which all these benefits have come to us and thank her by acts of love.
Let us take Our Lady as the model for our daily lives and bear in mind that the best way to honor her is by imitating her virtues. We should particularly honor her purity since we are the spouses of Jesus Christ. We should also imitate her humility which led God to do great things in her. Following the example she gave us by living apart from her parents as a very young child, we must be detached from all things. In all of our actions, let us practice these virtues, of which Mary has given us the example, and beg her to offer them to her Son in our name.
Let us celebrate, in a special way, the Church feasts honoring Mary and meditate, during the day, on the mystery proposed. Each day, let us implore her to help us to render to God the service we have promised Him and to be as submissive as she was in accomplishing His holy will. We should faithfully recite, each day, those prayers whicb we have chosen to honor her. These should include acts of love as well as of joyful praise for the glory that is hers in heaven. Finally, let us continue to hope that we will one day be with her and will thus be able to render to her all the honor due to her in the divine plan. (Conference on Devotion to the Blessed Virgin)
Musical Selection
Most High and glorious God
Bring light to the darkness of my heart
Give me right faith, certain hope
And perfect charity
Lord, give me insight and wisdom
So I might always discern
Your holy and true will
Lord, give me insight and wisdom
So I might always discern
Your holy and true will
Lord, give me insight and wisdom
So I might always discern
Your holy and true will

God our Father,
the source and reward of love,
through your Son who became man
you gave the new commandment of love to your Church.
May we follow the example of Saint Louise;
and by practicing your love on earth
may we obtain the kingdom promised to your servants who are faithful.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.