By Christina Hermoso
Catholics honor today the memory of the venerated patron of social workers–Saint Louise (Santa Luisa) de Marillac–who co-founded with Saint Vincent de Paul, a congregation known as the Daughters of Charity.
Commemorative masses, special prayers, and processions in honor of the French nun will be held in several Catholic churches across the world, including the Philippines.
Church leaders encourage the faithful to include in their Lenten meditation and observance the guiding principle of St. Louise, “Love the poor and honor them as you would honor Christ Himself.”
Born in France in 1591, St. Louise was known as a compassionate, pious, and deeply religious woman. A great devotee of the Blessed Mother, she took her religious vows at the age of 43. Together with her spiritual mentor, St. Vincent de Paul, they founded the Daughters of Charity, which was given papal approval in 1655. The order has since spread all over the world caring for the sick, the poor and neglected in hospitals, orphanages, elderly hospices, battlefield, prisons, schools, institutions for the mentally ill, and relief centers.
St. Louise died 1660 and was canonized by Pope Pius XI on March 11, 1934. In 1960, then pope, now Saint John XXIII, declared her as the patron of social workers. Many devotees also look up to St. Louise as the patron of the sick, widows, and those experiencing problems with their children.