The Feast Day of Saint Louise de Marillac has been moved from March 15 to May 9. Along with French country priest Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac co-founded the Daughters of Charity who have served in the Diocese of San Jose since 1889. The change in the Vincentian Liturgical Calendar was announced recently by Congregation of the Mission Superior General Father Gregory Gay. A review of the Calendar was requested by the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This review prompted Procurator General Father Shijo Kanjirathamkunnel, who led the review, to suggest the Feast Day be moved.
Together with Sister Kathleen Appler, Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, and her Council, Father Gay selected May 9. While the March 15 date marked the death of Saint Louise in Paris in 1660; the May 9 date marks the anniversary of her beatification. This date was selected over her canonization date, March 11, which also falls during the Lenten season.
Louise de Marillac was born in 1591 and educated by the Dominican nuns at Poissy. She married Antoine LeGras and they had one son. After her husband died in 1625, Louise joined with Vincent de Paul, who had already organized priests in the Congregation of the Mission (CM), and also the first Ladies of Charity. With his support, Louise set up a center in her home to train young women in the service of the poor. In 1633, they co-founded the Daughters of Charity. In 1634, Louise took vows and began her lifelong work of traveling throughout France establishing orphanages, hospitals and other institutions to help the sick and the poor. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII named Saint Louise the Patroness of Social Workers due to her profound effect on Vincent to create a new order of sisters, the Daughters of Charity. Unheard of in the 17th century, these young women took to the streets to minister to the sick and the poor. Her compassion, leadership and charitable spirit touched the lives of many young women. Today, the Daughters of Charity continue her work in the Diocese of San Jose, where they sponsor Saint Patrick’s Parochial School, San Jose; Saint Elizabeth Seton School, Palo Alto; and Villa Siena Senior Living Community, Mountain View.
A request has been made that the new feast day be incorporated into the universal calendar of the Catholic Church. No response has been received at this time. The Vincentian Liturgical Calendar governs the worldwide Vincentian Family. This Family includes followers of the charism of Saint Vincent de Paul including such organizations as: the Ladies of Charity; Congregation of the Mission priests and brothers; Daughters of Charity; and members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Saint Vincent is celebrated as the Patron Saint of Charity.