Texts of the Superior General Fr. Gay, CM and Sr. Evelyne Franc, DC in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris on the occasion of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of their deaths.

Message from Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission and Daughters of Charity 23rd successor of Saint Vincent de Paul on the occasion of 350th anniversary of death of Saint Louise de Marillac

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

God is good forever. Always and everywhere He reveals Himself through ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Today we gather in the Cathedral of Paris, a symbol of Catholicism, where the Vincentian Family began. Here in Paris, Saint Vincent and Saint Louise, with the help of others, revolutionized not only the Church but also the society of their time. With their solidarity for the poor, they put upside down the rules of society to placing respect and dignity of those living in abject poverty over the rest of the society.

Today, March 14, in a special way we are honoring the moment when St. Louise de Marillac passed from earth to heaven. Through her intercession, we ask God, so good, for grace to keep alive the revolution of the Kingdom of God and the transforming power of the Spirit of Love for the Vincentian Family, not only in Paris, not just in France but throughout the world, to continue under the inspiration of God’s love manifested in this woman of faith. Love becomes tangible in charity and charity is what drives us to move forward in our commitment as people of faith to bring hope to the poor.

As did St. Vincent and St. Louise 350 years ago, now we also continue to collaborate with each other in the places where the Lord has called us to serve and evangelize.

Your Excellency Cardinal, we, the many members of the Family of Saint Vincent, the Vincentian Family, give thanks for your welcoming us here this afternoon in your cathedral on this fourth Sunday of Lent. In reality, we are celebrating a Jubilee Year to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the death, here in Paris, of our Founders : Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac. Our Vincentian Family is composed of lay women of the International Association of Charities (AIC), priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Mission (Lazarists), the Daughters of Charity, members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Miraculous Medal Association, the Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul, youth movements (Misevi and Marian youth) and many other congregations and associations that share the Vincentian charism that could be summed up with these few words : love and spiritual and physical service to those sisters and brothers most destitute.

We feel blessed to find ourselves gathered here with all of you as we remember in a special way this afternoon Saint Louise de Marillac. She was born on August 12th, 1591 in Paris where she spent her whole life and where her memory is preserved in the many places in which she served so many people who were living in misery, specifically in the parish of Saint Laurent. She prayed in Saint Nicolas des Champs and in Saint Germain des Pres ; she was married in Saint Gervais and certainly she frequented this cathedral.

As a widow she was able, with the assistance of Saint Vincent de Paul, to fulfill her dream of consecrating her life to the Lord through alleviating the misery of those less fortunate. She began by collaborating with the Confraternities of Charity (later known as the AIC) and with Saint Vincent founded the Company of the Daughters of Charity, composed of women who were not cloistered but whose cloister was the city streets (a novelty at that time). Vincent and Louise sent the Daughters to those places where the poor called them : abandoned children, illiterate young people, the sick, the galley slaves, wounded soldiers, families ruined by war … Saint Louise said : « all the children of God must be loved tenderly and greatly respected ».

In the midst of so much activity, Louise sought God and desired to grow in intimacy with God. On March 15th she prepared peacefully to meet the Lord of charity whom she loved and served so faithfully.

Louise de Marillac was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI and in 1960, Pope John XXIII declared her « the patroness of all those who dedicate themselves to christian social works ».

We entrust to her all those persons who are part of the network of charity here in Paris.