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St. Louise de Marillac

Louise de Marillac was born on August 12, 1591 in Paris to Louis de Marillac, Lord of Ferrieres and his wife Marguerite Le Camus. She was raised by her father and by an aunt who was a religious, after her mother died when she was a baby. Louise was very studious and loved studying philosophy; her father hired a woman to tutor her at home. At sixteen, Louis wanted to enter religious life, but her spiritual director did not believe it was her vocation. When her father died, Louise decided to marry Antoine Le Gras, a secretary of Maria de’Medici. In 1613, Louise gave birth to a son to whom she was very devoted. Throughout her married life she devoted herself to charity and in 1619 she met St. Francis de Sales and Monsignor Le Campus, a bishop who became her new spiritual director. In 1623, she vowed not to remarry should Antoine die before she did. Antoine died after a long illness, two years later and around this time she met St. Vincent de Paul. Vincent was a close friend of Francis de Sales and was overseeing a Visitation convent for him. Louise and Father Vincent collaborated on works of charity which eventually led them to found the Sisters of Charity, a new type of religious order in which the sisters took only simple vows. Louise became the first superior of the order. As their name implies, the Sisters of Charity devote themselves to the poor, children, the sick and the elderly with many charitable works; they are still flourishing today. Louis de Marillac died in 1660, few months after Monsignor Vincent’s death. She was canonized in 1934.

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