March 11 is the anniversary of the canonization of St. Louise de Marillac.
The Daughters of Charity, which had been founded by Saints Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac in 1633 and which constituted the most widely spread, prestigious, and best-known of all such bodies in ancien régime France, serving in over 400 institutions by 1789. Originally conceptualized as caring agents at the bedsides of the poor sick, providing material and spiritual ministrations, the Daughters of Charity had by 1789 developed a wide variety of additional skills. In particular, they showed great administrative and managerial capabilities— they effectively ran the institutions to which they were attached. In addition, they possessed medical and pharmaceutical skills. […] They should be seen as medical practitioners in their own right.
At a time when women’s wages were notoriously low, when women’s work was widely disparaged, and when the professions were male monopolies, membership of one of these religious communities of active life offered women from menial backgrounds material and spiritual rewards, and the possibility of responsibility and influence, far beyond the reach of most women.”
From Sisters of Charity and the Ailing Poor by Colin Jones © 1989, The Society for the Social History of Medicine
– St. Vincent de Paul (SV 12, 222)
I hope that your gratitude will place you in the disposition necessary to receive the graces you need to serve your sick poor in a spirit of gentleness and great compassion, in imitation of Our Lord who acted this way with the most unfortunate.
– St. Louise de Marillac (SW L383, p. 434)
How fortunate you are, my dear sisters to have so many sick to serve! oh how evident it is that God loves you since he provides you with so many opportunities to serve Him! Continue to do so, I beg you, for love of Him, with all the gentleness, concern and charity required of you.
– St. Louise de Marillac (SW L468, p. 507)
We must likewise be moved by our neighbor’s suffering and share his sorrow. O Saint Paul, how sensitive you were on this point! O Savior, You who filled that Apostle with Your Spirit and compassion, help us say with him, Quis infirmatur, et ego non infirmor? Is anyone sick and I am not sick along with him?
– St. Vincent de Paul (SV 12, 221)
As for your conduct towards the sick never take the attitude of just getting the task done. You must show them affection; serving them from the heart; enquiring of them what they might need; speaking to them gently and compassionately; procuring necessary help for them without being too bothersome or too eager.
– St. Louise de Marillac (SW A85, p. 773)