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Louise de Marillac:
Her Life as Parable
1591-1625:
Childhood,
Adolescence
and Young
Adult
Her earliest years
•  August 12, 1591: born,
daughter of Louis de
Marillac and unknown
mother
•  October 10, 1591: placed in
care of Dominican Sisters
of Poissy with an aunt.
Very well educated
•  July 1604: Louis dies.
Louise sent to boarding
school for girls of lower
estate at age 13
•  Summer 1612: Louise’s
request to enter Capuchin
sisters rejected because of
her “delicate health”
Dealing with rejection
The Word:
Mark 1:40-45
Mark 7:24-30
Mark 10:46-52
Married and widowed
•  February 5, 1613: marries
Antoine Le Gras – she became
“Mademoiselle Le Gras”
•  October 13, 1613: son Michel is
born
•  1617: left with care of four
orphaned children of Valence
De Marillac – “My deceased
husband consumed everything:
his time, his life taking care of
the business” of this family
•  1622: DeMarillacs’ political
fortunes improve; Antoine
becomes sick and in severe
economic need. Louise
becomes increasingly
depressed.
•  August 12, 1623: Louise takes
“Vow of Widowhood”
•  December 21, 1625: Antoine Le
Gras dies
Dealing with anxiety & seeming
failure
The Word:
Mark 9:14-29 Luke 2:41-52; 7:11-17; 8:40-56
Matthew 1:13-23
Living
with
darkness
& the
power of
prayer
The Word:
Luke 18:1-8; Mark 14:32-42
The Light of
Pentecost
“On the feast of Pentecost I was in St. Nicolas-des-Champs during Holy Mass, and all in
an instant my mind was cleared of these doubts, and I was made to realize that I must
remain with my husband, and that a time would come when I should be in a position to
make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and that this would be done with persons
where other women did the same.
“I then understood myself to be in a place for the relief and assistance of my neighbors,
but I could not understand how this was being done, because these neighbors were coming
and going.
“I also understood that I was to be in peace as to my director, and that God would give me
one, whom he caused me to see, as I supposed, for I felt a repugnance about accepting him,
but all the same I consented; and it seemed to me that this was because I was not to make
this change just yet.
“My third burden was taken from me by the assurance that I felt in my mind, that it was
God who was teaching me these things, and that since there was a God I ought not to be
doubtful about the other things. At that time, the doubt as to immortality was leading me to
disbelieve in Divinity.
“I have always believed that I received this grace through the blessed Monseigneur of
Geneva, because I had greatly desired, before his death, to communicate these troubles to
him, and since then I have felt towards him a great devotion, and I have received through
him many graces. At that time I had some matter about which I sought his advice, but I
cannot now remember what it was. This happened on the feast of Pentecost, 1623, in the
church of St Nicolas-des-Champs, during Mass.”
1625-1633:
A Time of
Healing
Vincent & Louise: beginning a
relationship
•  1625: Mlle Le Gras meets
Vincent de Paul.
Recommended for her
spiritual director by Bishop
Camus after consulting with
Francis de Sales.
•  In the beginning – Louise
continually searching for
God’s will for her life;
extremely concerned about
her son Michel; a structured
and rigid prayer style.
•  1625-1628: Louise becomes
more involved in preparing
clothing or food for the poor.
•  July 1628: Louise, in prayer,
led to devote herself to the
service of the poor
Learning to trust God
The Word:
Matthew 14:22-33; Luke 8:22-25
The mission begins
•  May 16, 1629: Vincent sends
Louise on mission to visit the
Charity at Montmirail.
•  1629: first establishment of the
Confraternities in the city of Paris
at Saint Sauveur
•  1630: the arrival of Marguerite
Nasseau and Marie Jolie
•  November 16, 1630: failed coup
d’etat by two of Louise’s uncles –
one decapitated, the other dies in
prison. Louise keenly feels this
loss.
•  1631: gentleman accuses Louise of
having accepted his offer of
marriage.
•  1629-1633: visit and organized
Charities outside Paris in summer
and, in winter, established
Charities in Paris
Marguerite Nasseau
“Margaret Nasseau . . . was the first Sister who
had the happiness of pointing out the road to
our other Sisters, both in the education of
young girls and in nursing the sick, although
she had no other master or mistress but God.
She was a poor, uneducated cow-herd. Moved
by a powerful inspiration from Heaven, the
idea occurred to her that she would instruct
chldren and so she bought an alphabet but, as
she could not got to school for instruction, she
went and asked the parish priest or curate to
tell her what were the first four letters of the
alphabet…. Afterwards, while she minded her
cows, she studied her lesson…. And so, little
by little, she learned to read, and she then
taught the other girls of her village…. She
undertook all this without money or any other
help save that of Divine Providence…. The
harder she worked at teaching the children,
the more the village folk laughed at and
calumniated her…. When she learned that
there was a Confraternity of Charity in Paris
for the sick poor, she went there moved by a
desire to be employed in this work…. This
was indeed the will of God, for He intended
her to be the first Daughter of Charity and
servant of the sick poor….”
Coming to believe in self, God’s
purpose & plan
The Word:
Luke 1:26-66
John 20:1-18
1633-1660:
Years of the
Little
Company
Founding the Daughters & Ladies of Charity
•  May to October 1633: Vincent
and Louise engage in dialogue
and prayer about the possible
founding of a new type of
Confraternity
•  November 29, 1633: Louise
gathers the first 4 or 5 young
women volunteers in her own
rooms.
•  March 25, 1634: Louise binds
herself by vow to consecrate
herself to the work of this
Confraternity of the Daughters
of Charity
•  July 31, 1634: Vincent explains
the Rules to the first 12 sisters –
already 5 houses in Paris
•  1634: The Ladies of Charity
established as Confraternity
•  1639: 16 houses of Daughters in
Paris
The mission & troubles expand
•  1640: Michel abandons the cassock
•  March 25, 1642: first vows in Little
Company of four sisters
•  Pentecost Eve 1642: collapse of
Motherhouse floor and increasing
problems: fights between Sisters,
tensions with pastors & bishops,
death of Sisters due to plague.
•  1645: Vincent submits to Louise the
“Memorandum on the Establishment
of the Daughters” – 30 to 40 houses
of Daughters
•  November 20, 1646: Erection of the
Company of the Daughters of
Charity as a Confraternity – this
document was “lost”
•  1647: crises with Michel and the
community
•  January 18, 1650: Michel marries
Gabrielle Le Clerc
Learning
to relax
and
“listen”
The Word:
Luke 10:38-42
Final approbation
of the Daughters
•  January 18, 1655: approbation of the
Company of the Daughters of
Charity by Cardinal de Retz – the
term “Company” rather than
“Congregation” safeguarded them
against becoming enclosed as nuns:
Company had 122 members at this
time.
•  August 8, 1655: acts of establishment
of Daughter of Charity
•  November 1657: Louis XIV approves
the establishment of the Company
•  December 16, 1658: registration by
Parlement of Letters Patent of King
•  March 15, 1660: Louise dies in Paris
•  June 8, 1668: Papal approval of the
Daughters of Charity, Servants of the
Poor Sick
•  1934: Canonization of St. Louise de
Marillac
Vincent to the Daughters of Charity,
August 24, 1659
“Your monastery and your house is that of
the sick, your cell is a hired room. Your
chapel is the parish church, where you
should always assist at the divine sacrifice
and give good example, always being
present there to edify the people, yet not
abandoning the necessary service of the
sick. For cloister, the streets of the city,
through which you walk in winter and in all
sorts of weather to seek out the sick poor.
For enclosure, obedienced. For a grille, the
fear of God. For veil, holy modesty. I beg
Our Lord to enlighten your minds, to
inflame your wills that you may henceforth
love nothing but him, in him, and for him.”
Peace & freedom in service
The Word:
Luke 7:36-50;
John 13:1-17

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St. Louise De Marillac As Parable

  • 1. Louise de Marillac: Her Life as Parable
  • 3. Her earliest years •  August 12, 1591: born, daughter of Louis de Marillac and unknown mother •  October 10, 1591: placed in care of Dominican Sisters of Poissy with an aunt. Very well educated •  July 1604: Louis dies. Louise sent to boarding school for girls of lower estate at age 13 •  Summer 1612: Louise’s request to enter Capuchin sisters rejected because of her “delicate health”
  • 4. Dealing with rejection The Word: Mark 1:40-45 Mark 7:24-30 Mark 10:46-52
  • 5. Married and widowed •  February 5, 1613: marries Antoine Le Gras – she became “Mademoiselle Le Gras” •  October 13, 1613: son Michel is born •  1617: left with care of four orphaned children of Valence De Marillac – “My deceased husband consumed everything: his time, his life taking care of the business” of this family •  1622: DeMarillacs’ political fortunes improve; Antoine becomes sick and in severe economic need. Louise becomes increasingly depressed. •  August 12, 1623: Louise takes “Vow of Widowhood” •  December 21, 1625: Antoine Le Gras dies
  • 6. Dealing with anxiety & seeming failure The Word: Mark 9:14-29 Luke 2:41-52; 7:11-17; 8:40-56 Matthew 1:13-23
  • 7. Living with darkness & the power of prayer The Word: Luke 18:1-8; Mark 14:32-42
  • 8. The Light of Pentecost “On the feast of Pentecost I was in St. Nicolas-des-Champs during Holy Mass, and all in an instant my mind was cleared of these doubts, and I was made to realize that I must remain with my husband, and that a time would come when I should be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and that this would be done with persons where other women did the same. “I then understood myself to be in a place for the relief and assistance of my neighbors, but I could not understand how this was being done, because these neighbors were coming and going. “I also understood that I was to be in peace as to my director, and that God would give me one, whom he caused me to see, as I supposed, for I felt a repugnance about accepting him, but all the same I consented; and it seemed to me that this was because I was not to make this change just yet. “My third burden was taken from me by the assurance that I felt in my mind, that it was God who was teaching me these things, and that since there was a God I ought not to be doubtful about the other things. At that time, the doubt as to immortality was leading me to disbelieve in Divinity. “I have always believed that I received this grace through the blessed Monseigneur of Geneva, because I had greatly desired, before his death, to communicate these troubles to him, and since then I have felt towards him a great devotion, and I have received through him many graces. At that time I had some matter about which I sought his advice, but I cannot now remember what it was. This happened on the feast of Pentecost, 1623, in the church of St Nicolas-des-Champs, during Mass.”
  • 10. Vincent & Louise: beginning a relationship •  1625: Mlle Le Gras meets Vincent de Paul. Recommended for her spiritual director by Bishop Camus after consulting with Francis de Sales. •  In the beginning – Louise continually searching for God’s will for her life; extremely concerned about her son Michel; a structured and rigid prayer style. •  1625-1628: Louise becomes more involved in preparing clothing or food for the poor. •  July 1628: Louise, in prayer, led to devote herself to the service of the poor
  • 11. Learning to trust God The Word: Matthew 14:22-33; Luke 8:22-25
  • 12. The mission begins •  May 16, 1629: Vincent sends Louise on mission to visit the Charity at Montmirail. •  1629: first establishment of the Confraternities in the city of Paris at Saint Sauveur •  1630: the arrival of Marguerite Nasseau and Marie Jolie •  November 16, 1630: failed coup d’etat by two of Louise’s uncles – one decapitated, the other dies in prison. Louise keenly feels this loss. •  1631: gentleman accuses Louise of having accepted his offer of marriage. •  1629-1633: visit and organized Charities outside Paris in summer and, in winter, established Charities in Paris
  • 13. Marguerite Nasseau “Margaret Nasseau . . . was the first Sister who had the happiness of pointing out the road to our other Sisters, both in the education of young girls and in nursing the sick, although she had no other master or mistress but God. She was a poor, uneducated cow-herd. Moved by a powerful inspiration from Heaven, the idea occurred to her that she would instruct chldren and so she bought an alphabet but, as she could not got to school for instruction, she went and asked the parish priest or curate to tell her what were the first four letters of the alphabet…. Afterwards, while she minded her cows, she studied her lesson…. And so, little by little, she learned to read, and she then taught the other girls of her village…. She undertook all this without money or any other help save that of Divine Providence…. The harder she worked at teaching the children, the more the village folk laughed at and calumniated her…. When she learned that there was a Confraternity of Charity in Paris for the sick poor, she went there moved by a desire to be employed in this work…. This was indeed the will of God, for He intended her to be the first Daughter of Charity and servant of the sick poor….”
  • 14. Coming to believe in self, God’s purpose & plan The Word: Luke 1:26-66 John 20:1-18
  • 16. Founding the Daughters & Ladies of Charity •  May to October 1633: Vincent and Louise engage in dialogue and prayer about the possible founding of a new type of Confraternity •  November 29, 1633: Louise gathers the first 4 or 5 young women volunteers in her own rooms. •  March 25, 1634: Louise binds herself by vow to consecrate herself to the work of this Confraternity of the Daughters of Charity •  July 31, 1634: Vincent explains the Rules to the first 12 sisters – already 5 houses in Paris •  1634: The Ladies of Charity established as Confraternity •  1639: 16 houses of Daughters in Paris
  • 17. The mission & troubles expand •  1640: Michel abandons the cassock •  March 25, 1642: first vows in Little Company of four sisters •  Pentecost Eve 1642: collapse of Motherhouse floor and increasing problems: fights between Sisters, tensions with pastors & bishops, death of Sisters due to plague. •  1645: Vincent submits to Louise the “Memorandum on the Establishment of the Daughters” – 30 to 40 houses of Daughters •  November 20, 1646: Erection of the Company of the Daughters of Charity as a Confraternity – this document was “lost” •  1647: crises with Michel and the community •  January 18, 1650: Michel marries Gabrielle Le Clerc
  • 19. Final approbation of the Daughters •  January 18, 1655: approbation of the Company of the Daughters of Charity by Cardinal de Retz – the term “Company” rather than “Congregation” safeguarded them against becoming enclosed as nuns: Company had 122 members at this time. •  August 8, 1655: acts of establishment of Daughter of Charity •  November 1657: Louis XIV approves the establishment of the Company •  December 16, 1658: registration by Parlement of Letters Patent of King •  March 15, 1660: Louise dies in Paris •  June 8, 1668: Papal approval of the Daughters of Charity, Servants of the Poor Sick •  1934: Canonization of St. Louise de Marillac
  • 20. Vincent to the Daughters of Charity, August 24, 1659 “Your monastery and your house is that of the sick, your cell is a hired room. Your chapel is the parish church, where you should always assist at the divine sacrifice and give good example, always being present there to edify the people, yet not abandoning the necessary service of the sick. For cloister, the streets of the city, through which you walk in winter and in all sorts of weather to seek out the sick poor. For enclosure, obedienced. For a grille, the fear of God. For veil, holy modesty. I beg Our Lord to enlighten your minds, to inflame your wills that you may henceforth love nothing but him, in him, and for him.”
  • 21. Peace & freedom in service The Word: Luke 7:36-50; John 13:1-17

Editor's Notes

  1. Placed two month old Louise in care of the Dominican Sisters of Poissy where his aunt lived. Putting children of this age in monasteries as boarders was quite common in this period. Studied Latin, French, theology, philosophy, spirituality and probably painting. July 1604: father dies; soon after Louise sent to a “boarding school for girls of a not very elevated state, rather middle-low, young bourgeois, daughters of lesser nobility from the provinces or young bastards. These boarding schools were common in Paris.” Involved herself in “the humble taks of the house such as cutting the firewood and other heavy things.” Summer 1612: Louise petitions to enter Capuchins; her spiritual director forbade her to do so because of her delicate health. She had already committed herself to becoming a nun. This “commitment” -- not a vow -- later troubled her deeply prior to the Light of Pentecost.