Saint Louis de Marillac - March 15 - Patron of Social Workers
Taken from Magnificat Magazine March 2016, Vol 17, No 13.
Louis was the illegitimate daughter of a French noble. She seems never to have known her mother, but her father saw to her education with the nuns of Poissy. In 1613, Louise married Antonie Le Gras. In the years that followed, Antonie lost his job, failed in a new position, and then became sickly. The son born to them, Michel was also in ill health. Through all of this, Louis persevered in prayer, despite sometimes impenetrable darkness.
Antonie died in 1625. By this time Louise had come to know Saint Vincent de Paul. A founder of extraordinary energy and a vigorous advocate for the poor, Vincent had created the Ladies of Charity, a movement of lay women to care for the needy of Paris and its environs. the rich ladies had money to spare, but would not dirty their hands tending the poor in their homes. In 1629, Vincent asked Louise to address this problem.
After taking a tour of the many ladies of Charity groups, Louise began to train women for the work - not the rich, but the simple, devout working-class women. From the first, Vincent and Louise saw these "Daughters of Charity" as an active force in the world, making Christ present in their hands and feet. The congregation received formal approval in 1655. By the time of her death five years later, Louise had overseen the founding of forty houses.