The “Lady” Named Louise

March 15 is the Feast Day of St. Louise de Marillac.

Her statue is located in the case mangement office at Saint Louise House, and children and mothers often pat her as they pass her in the hallway.   The following is her story which case managers will be sharing this evening as we get families together for a meal and to celebrate “Saint Louise Day.”

St. Louise, surrounding by diapers and wipes after a recent donation drive.

Children and their mothers often ask about “the lady” whose statue is in the Saint Louise House office. The “lady” is St. Louise de Marillac, and she was born a very long time ago in France. Because her father loved her very much (she never knew her mother), he sent her to live at a convent where the nuns could raise her and take good care of her while he was working.  The nuns were also teachers, and she learned how to read and write which was unusual at that time for girls. Her father died when she was only 13, and she moved to a  boarding house for girls.

She had always dreamed of becoming a nun, but they were unable to accept her because of her poor health. At  age 22, her family arranged for her to marry, but her husband became ill, and she spent several years taking care him until he died. During that time, she met a priest named  Fr. Vincent DePaul.  They didn’t always get along, but they both believed it was important to take care of people who needed help especially women and children. Louise dreamed of creating a group of women who also wanted to help people living in poverty, and the priest helped her.  They called themselves the Daughters of Charity.  Her dream of becoming a nun came true, and Louise become their teacher and leader.  She helped start many programs with the Daughters of Charity including education  programs for girls who were poor, food banks and programs for women who were homeless.  Today there are more than 20,000 Daughters of Charity around the world.

In 2001, Saint Louise House, named in honor of St. Louise de Mariallc, opened its doors to five previously homeless women and their children.  Today, Saint Louise House serves 31 families helping  them in the same spirit as the “lady” did hundreds of years ago.  St. Louise died on March 15, 1660, we call it her “feast day” because we  celebrate her life and her commitment to helping  others.