Marking the feast of St. Louise

Celebrating the feast of St. Patrick (17th March) and St. Louise (15th March),
feastdays of Sr. Muriel (Patricia in religious profession) and Sr. Louise
In our religious communities, one of our special celebrations is that of our feastday or nameday. We do mark our birthdays too but by marking our nameday we recall the saint after whom we were named. When I was making my First Profession, I had thought to change my name but in the end I kept my own name and thus my patroness was St. Louise de Marillac. However we also had to do a little research into our name and it was then I discovered that I was named after the midwife in the hospital where I was born. I think that the icon of St. Louise is very fitting considering this!

In the 1600's, St. Louise worked with St. Vincent de Paul and assisted him with the Confraternities of Charity in the parishes of France. These tasks were therapeutic for Louise and formative for her future work and that of the Vincentian family. She conducted site visits to assure the quality of the service being offered; reviewed financial accounts for stewardship reports; and encouraged the workers and volunteers to see Christ in those whom they served.
Through this work, she gained a deep knowledge of the needs of the poor, developed her innate management skills and identified effective structures for service. Later in her own home she began to train young women to address the needs of poor persons and to gain support from their life together. From this humble beginning, the community of Daughters of Charity emerged. Louise provided leadership and expert management to the evolving network of services she and Vincent inspired.

Louise, who died on March 15th, 1660 just a few months before Vincent de Paul, was beatified in 1920 and proclaimed a Saint of the Church in 1934. In 1960 Pope John XXIII proclaimed her the Patroness of Christian Social Workers. As a wife, mother, teacher, nurse, social worker, mentor, spiritual leader, and foundress, she stands as a model to all women. She lives today in the Ladies of Charity, Daughters of Charity, and Sisters of Charity serving throughout the world, as well as in their many lay collaborators and associates. I am blessed to have this great saint as my intercessor and patroness.