Louise was born in 1591 in Meux, France into a noble family. Her mother died while she was quite young. Her father eventually placed her with the royal Dominican monastery in Poissy. At the age of 15, her father also died. She requested entry in the Capuchins but was denied due to her frail health.
Several years later, Louise married Antony Le Gras. They had one son, Michel. When her husband became ill, Louise became severely depressed. In 1619, while in Paris, she met St. Francis de Sales, who became her spiritual advisor. Her depression came to an end after a spiritual experience during a Mass on Pentecost. She described her experience in the following way:
“On the Feast of Pentecost during Holy Mass or while I was praying in the church, my mind was completely freed of all doubt. I was advised that I should remain with my husband and the time would come when I would be in the position to make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and that I would be in a small community where others would do the same.”
Louise’s husband died three years after this experience. She decided never to marry again and to serve God alone. She sold her home and moved into a small home which was near St. Vincent de Paul who became her advisor. While still raising her son and managing her home she helped St. Vincent to begin the Daughters of Charity. St. Vincent said “Your convent will be the house of the sick; your cell, a hired room; your chapel, the parish church; your cloister, the streets of the city or the wards of the hospital; your enclosure, obedience.
Louise was very hard working and courageous. Eventually there were over 40 housed which she started in France. She also established hospitals and orphanages.
Louise died on March 15, 1660. She was beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1920 and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.
Be diligent in serving the poor. Love the poor, honor them my children, as you would honor Christ himself.
Quote of St. Louise de Marillac
March is the Month of St. Joseph