The Concept of Consecration in the Writings of Louise de Marillac

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

By: Sister Carmen Urrizburu, DC

[This article first appeared in Vincencianismo y Vida Consagrada, XXXIX Semana de Estudios Vicencianos, Editorial CEME, Salamanca, 2017, p. 165-198].

Approaching the meaning of consecration

The origin of the search for God runs through the entire history of humankind. This search for finding one’s way is inspired by the fascination that people have with regard to the sacred. That search is also enriched by the wise experience of those who dared to delve into that which is “above and beyond”, who dared to cross deserts and frontiers, who dared to go beyond that which is known and thus, entered more and more into the mystery of the sacred.

There in the darkness of time, at a particular moment in the process of evolution, the human spirit viewed reality as divided into two distinct spheres: the secular and the sacred. People, in their helplessness before the dangers that lie in wait for them and seduced by the divine, went out to its encounter in order to worship and obtain assistance … people were in desperate need of such assistance. Thus, there arose the need to reserve some objects, places, seasons, and/or persons in order to set them apart from the secular sphere and place them in the sphere of the sacred. As a result, sacred rites, gestures and formulas were established in order to dedicate something to God and to God’s exclusive service … such objects then became God’s property. This activity that people engaged in was called “consecration” and was viewed as a manner of establishing a relationship with God. It was thought that through such a process people were able to please God and in turn, God would act on their behalf.

Time passed. That paradigm, which had lost its dominance and was thus relegated to a particular world view, nevertheless inserted itself in new cultures … it did not completely disappear. People broadened their spiritual experience and entered into the mystery of the divine in a new way. They perceived that there was not only the possibility of consecrating some object to God in order to please and placate and establish a relationship with God, but also that this living and approachable God acted upon reality … God called and convoked. God was viewed as Emmanuel, as God-with-us. Heirs of the Judean spirituality, we understand that the people of Israel viewed themselves as a holy nation, a chosen people who were preferred, loved, accompanied, corrected and saved by God … by the God of the covenant who transformed their tormented history into a history of salvation and revealed a new form of consecration. Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people (Jeremiah 7:23). God, having chosen Israel from among all other nations, consecrated this people and established a covenant with them. The people responded by accepting the covenant … they obeyed and handed themselves over to God; they believed and worshiped God; they were consecrated. There was also a general belief that from the countless objects of creation, God chose certain objects, places, and persons for himself … and such individuals would then dedicate themselves to performing acts of worship. Such dedication was expressed within the context of some rite of anointing and as a result a stone for an altar, a temple, a king or a prophet was thus consecrated.

A fundamental change in the evolution of the meaning of consecration occurred in the fullness of time, on the occasion of the incarnation of the Son of God. From that time there would only exist sacred reality, the person of Jesus Christ. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). In Christ, God took on a human nature and from that time on Jesus became the holy and sacred presence of God. For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily and you share in this fullness in him, who is head of every principality and power (Colossians 2:9-10). Thus, in the experience of the believer, consecration began to be viewed as communion of life with Christ in the Spirit who promoted a filial relationship with the Father … a relationship of obedience and trusting faith. Theological reflection made it clear that through baptism, Christians participate in the divine life through the anointing of the Spirit. Therefore, every baptized person is consecrated and the Christian community is seen as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own (1 Peter 2:9).

Little by little, then, there emerged in religious circles the concept of consecration that was defined as the action by which an object, a person, some human reality or some activity becomes sacred. To consecrate something is to dedicate and offer to God some person or some object and this is done through some cultic act, a promise or a vow.

At the present time this concept that arose in the midst of the religious world, has been extended into the secular world. For example, we might say that a person is a dedicated violinist because he/she spends his/her entire life practicing and perfecting various techniques and as a result of such effort and mastery that person is able to attain a certain dominance.

From the perspective of either the secular or religious meaning of the word, consecration has also been associated with the concepts of separation, ascetics, effort, fasting, some form of exercise, renunciation, self-giving, handing over, offering, dedication, promise vow, etc. … which leads individuals to seek a purpose that becomes a supreme value in life, a purpose that is desired with all the energy that one possesses, a purpose that is always present in one’s consciousness, a purpose that leads people to utilize all their skill in order to attain it and, as a result, those individuals are careful so that no other legitimate option robs them of the freedom that they need to remain on the path that will enable them to achieve that purpose. To consecrate oneself to God implies renouncing the idea of living according to one’s own design and therefore, seeking to live from the perspective of God’s design. This, then, constitutes a specific manner of being in the world. When people live in this manner they dedicate themselves in body and soul and they hand themselves over … we say that such individuals are living a consecrated life.

Louise experienced empathy for the Congregation

From the time of early childhood, Louise lived in the midst of an environment that was influenced by what today we refer to as consecrated life. It was there, in the midst of the Dominican nuns with whom she lived in the convent at Poissy, that she was enflamed with the knowledge and the understanding that enabled her to give her life a meaning of consecration.

In that convent she came to understand that “consecration” implied silence and prayer, liturgical worship and community life, an ascetical life and interior devoutness, vows and a commitment to serve others. Consecration implied a total giving of oneself to God.

We know that it was probably at the time of the death of her father that Louise was placed in the royal abbey in Poissy. There she was influenced by the monastic life and an attitude of “devotion” became rooted in her. She cultivated the habit of reading the works of the authors of that era, and dedicated time to personal prayer, participated in retreats and various liturgical acts, listened to sermons and expressed compassion toward those persons in need. She grew and deepened her spiritual life and developed her religious dimension. This is the image that her biographers present to us as they recount the life she lived at the boarding house in Paris.

When Louise was at the boarding house she witnessed an event that awakened in her (perhaps reawakened in her) a feeling of fascination for the sacred. She was very young, probably not yet fifteen years of age, when she saw and was impressed by the transfer of twelve Capuchin nuns to their new convent in the district of Saint-Denis. This transfer took the form of a procession that was led by the Archbishop of Paris who was followed by the joyful nuns, discalced and wearing a crown of thorns on their heads. It was said that the whole city was overwhelmed with emotion and that many people shared their impressions of this ceremony. It could be that it was that event that enkindled in Louise a desire to live her life like those young Capuchin nuns … a desire that became more persistent, that became more intense and that, ultimately, became a concrete proposal.

Nicolas Gobillon, Louise’s first biographer, tells us that from her earliest years the world held no attraction for Louise. She had an ardent desire to consecrate herself to God and planned to become a Capuchin [1]. When Sister Mathurine Guérin, DC wrote her recollections of the various events that were recounted by Louise, she stated that at about the age of fifteen or sixteen, Louise began to engage in the practice of daily mental prayer and that for as long as she lived with that capable and virtuous woman she had a strong desire to enter into some form of religious life [2]. We are told that she had a spiritual director and that she made a first vow with regard to her desire to become a professed member of this new convent [3]. Louise wanted to give herself totally to God. The possibility of consecration enlightened her life in the same way that occurred with many other young women of that era.

According to Gobillon, we do not know when Louise formulated her plan to become a Capuchin nun or her plan with regard to her vow. We do know, however, that during the summer or the autumn of 1612 she asked Father Honoré de Champigny, the Provincial of the Capuchins and her spiritual director, to enter the convent [4]. He rejected her proposal because he judged that with her weak constitution she would be unable to bear the austerities, and he declared to her that he thought God had some other design on her [5]. Even though she felt obliged to marry, that unfulfilled desire remained in her mind and created an emptiness and/or a certain anxiety (a guilt because she had been unable to carry out her desire). In her adult life we see that there was always a tendency to consecrate her life in some new way … a tendency to give herself to God.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that while Louise has left us writings that describe her interior movements, while she wrote many instructions to form the first Daughters of Charity and to help them remain faithful to their vocation, she has left us no theoretical teachings with regard to the concept of consecration. We have only five passages in which that word is referenced, and that word is always given its simplest and most direct meaning, namely, a total giving of self and/or a form of special dedication. In the first passage Louise praises God because this good girl has given [has consecrated] herself to the service of the Penitents (SWLM:33 [L.47]); another text refers to the priestly character: You see how greatly God has been dishonored by them from whom he should receive glory because of the priestly character which has consecrated them and totally dedicated them to the service of the altar where he is to be adored (SWLM:725 [A.35]). A third reference is found in the catechism which she wrote for the use of the Sisters. In response to the question: what should a Christian do during the day? we find the following response: Christians should consecrate themselves to God and offer all their activities to God. They should ask God for the grace to spend the day without offending God [6]. The last two references are related to Louise herself … in her Act of Consecration she stated: on the day of my baptism, I was vowed and dedicated to my God to be his daughter (SWLM:693 [A.3]) and during her retreat she wrote: I must spend [consecrate] the rest of my days honoring the hidden life of Jesus on earth, thus following the example of Jesus who saw that the common life had the greatest need of examples (SWLM:719 [.8]).

The manner in which Louise lived her consecration

We begin by stating that Louise’s tendency to live her life from the perspective of consecration was nourished by an interior movement and by the influence of her preferred spiritual writers. Louise lived during the time of the great century of souls … a time of reform during which there was a great reawakening with regard to the spiritual dimension of the human person. This was a time in which France experienced a profound renewal in the area of faith and religion. Louise, with her unique characteristics and without the notoriety that was given to others, can be viewed as one of those individuals who made an important contribution to the Catholic restoration. She knew the most noted mystics and spiritual leaders of her era, people who met in the house of Madame Acarie and in the house of Michel de Marillac. There she was able to breathe in the fresh air of spirituality, missionary spirit, concern for the poor and renewal of the clergy. Great preachers traveled to Paris, individuals like Francis de Sales whom Louise knew personally and whose works were most influential in her life. The city enthusiastically embraced that movement of spiritual fervor that came from northern Europe and also from Northern Spain (here we note the arrival of the Carmelites and the publication of the best Spanish and German mystical works). Theological discourse was cautious and so the rigidity of human nature expressed in pessimism and negativity did not disappear. Among the writings that were most influential in Louise’s life we mention those of Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life and Treatise on the love of God, as well as the Imitation of Christ and Fray Luis de Granada’s, Guide for Sinners. Louise was seen as a devout woman and therefore we can suppose that she read the spiritual literature that was in vogue at that time … thus she would have read not only the Flemish mystics and Pierre de Berulle and Benedict Canfield, but also other authors who would have shared some of the same ideas. In Paris Louise lived in the midst of a fervent environment that refreshed her mystical heart.

Before analyzing the main contours of Louise’s consecration, we can say that she lived her life from a perspective of love … a tender and joyful love, a love that was accepted with gratitude and responsibility, a love that was enjoyed in reciprocity and cultivated in the midst of everyday living, a love that was learned and taught in prayer and that was verified in her relationships and in her daily activity. In the process of spiritual growth and maturation, that love which was poured forth into her heart by the Spirit, dominated her relationship with the God in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus the pure love of Jesus became her permanent home [7] and inspired her to practice the virtues that Jesus practiced (SWLM:693 [A.3)]. That love was like the philosopher’s stone that changed everything to gold, thus making all of Louise’s activities meritorious [SWLM:536 (L.508)] or could be referred to as that element which enabled her to remain committed to the service of God [SWLM:690 (A.1]) and that which filled her heart with its holy flames to the point that everything else was perceived as sparks from that fire [SWLM:625 (L605b)].

Let us now look at the horizons of Louise’s consecration.

I felt a strong desire to give myself to God (SWLM:692 [A.15b])

Those words were expressed by Louise when she put on paper some of the unforgettable memories of her early interior experiences: I felt a strong desire to give myself to God to fulfill his holy will for the remainder of my life (SWLM:692 [A.15b]) . We would not be mistaken if we thought that Louise, perhaps at the conclusion of 1621 (at the sage of 30), began to experience changes in her interior. One of those changes, which she might have been forewarned about (perhaps in 1622) revealed a change in her disposition to give herself to God. Previously Louise had been motivated by devotion, that is, she was concerned about being good through means of her commitment and the strength of her will (sacrifices and an ascetical life), but she experienced a new interior movement … an urgency that sprang from her heart and now she felt impelled from inside rather than being pushed from outside. Louise’s words remind us of the deer that runs quickly and anxiously toward streams of water … the movement of the deer is motivated by thirst [9]. In the same manner, Louise felt impelled to commit herself and to hand over her life to God. She was motivated to do this because she was amazed at the way in which God was present in her life and equally fascinated at the ways in which the Spirit guided the movements of her interior. Taking time to read, especially the Introduction to the Devout Life, helped to mold the interior movement of Louise’s life and gave a concrete form to her desire to achieve true devotion. She was able to identify that which arose from fantasy and passion. On more than one occasion Louise would have read that all true and living devotion presupposes the love of God; --- and indeed it is neither more nor less than a very real love of God, though not always of the same kind; for that Love, one while shining on the soul we call grace, which makes us acceptable to His Divine Majesty; --- when it strengthens us to do well, it is called Charity; --- but when it attains its fullest perfection, in which it not only leads us to do well, but to act carefully, diligently, and promptly, then it is called Devotion [10]. In her Rule of Life in the World [11], Louise wrote: I shall be faithful to this so as to keep before my mind the realization that I can only desire to serve God if his love draws me (SWLM:691 [A.1]).

This new manner of living, this giving of herself to God, marked the beginning of a personal, conscious living out of her consecration and also guaranteed its authenticity. It would be good for us to focus our attention on the texts that she has left us. The acts of piety and mortification that she practiced have to be viewed from the perspective of attraction. There is no reason for them to be understood as empty or meaningless actions that had to be fulfilled. Louise engaged in such acts in order to remain alert and to keep her desire alive, in order to cultivate and intensify the giving of herself to God, in order to give a present dimension to her consecration. Louise was determined to remain in that position for her whole life (a dynamic, on-going fidelity), giving herself entirely to God (SWLM:341 [L.136b]), thus illuminating her surroundings. Later, she wrote to Sister Anne Hardemont: I am sure that you do not fail to offer yourself to God often in order to accomplish his most holy will (SWLM:443 [L.362]) [12].

It is good to be aware of the fact that Louise was determined to give herself to God. Her life was constantly oriented by that desire and became part of her most profound identity. That concise phrase, filled with energy and vigor, summed up Louise’s deep desire … it was a fundamental perspective of her life. Thus she was able to put in order her interior, which in every moment was pure and was also the source of motivation. Louise first wrote those words in 1622 and then again, thirty-two years later when she wrote Sister Anne Hardemont … those same words were utilized anew, still filled with that lively attitude of fidelity which expressed and flowed from her desire to offer herself to God.

What, then, was Louise’s image of God? God was not distant, impersonal, unconcerned about the things that occurred on earth. Louise handed her life over to a God who had revealed himself as one who is near to people, a God who is present and active in the life of every person because God is pleased to come among men and women in order to make use of us as he sees fit (SWLM:822 [M.72]), a God who reveals his plan of life for people and for society, an incarnate God who took on human flesh, who knows our secrets, … a God who became incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ.

Happy to be accepted by Jesus to live my entire life as his follower (SWLM:715 [A.5])

Louise also felt impelled by a desire to give herself to God in order to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. At a very early age Louise was aware of being called to follow Jesus but perhaps it was soon after the death of her husband that this became her primary concern. She felt an urgency to live her life in that manner and she wanted to follow Jesus freely … she wanted nothing to prevent her from walking in the footsteps of the Master. Thus she had to find the manner that would enable her to do this while at the same time enabling her to live the fullness of life. She found this in the practice that allowed her to let go of everything and to be detached of all those realities that might distract her and lead her astray from the following of Jesus. Therefore, when she redacted her Rule for Life, she began with the following words: May the desire for holy poverty always live in my heart in such a manner that, freed from all bonds, I may follow Jesus Christ and serve my neighbor with great humility and gentleness (SWLM:689 [A.1]). A “desire” … an affective movement toward something that is attractive and that involves the use of intensive energy in order to attain that which is desired. At the same time there was a “thirst for freedom”, that is, an ability to choose, to engage in careful discernment … all of which lead to a clarity when deciding.

Thus we find ourselves in the presence of a woman who was profoundly attracted by a call … a woman seduced by the beauty of such a call. When we enter into her interior experience we are touched by the reciprocity of this call. Louise gives and God receives … God and creature are found in a reciprocal relationship of give and take. Grace beautifies that relationship and love makes the relationship sacred and holy. As a result, Louise’s heart is filled with joy. In 1632, at the age of forty-one, Louise stated: Because Jesus took our misery upon himself, it is only reasonable that we should follow him and imitate his holy, human life. This thought absorbed my mind and moved me to resolve to follow him wholeheartedly, without any reservation. Filled with consolation and happiness at the thought of being accepted by Him to live my entire life as his follower (SWLM:715 [A.5]). Because of the manner in which she expressed herself, we can come to an understanding of her determination. Let us listen to some of her words again: “moved me to resolve” (refers to a free option, a joy and enthusiasm with regard to her commitment); “filled with consolation and happiness” (those words express Louise’s overflowing joy, her experience of fullness, an interior disposition in which she cultivated and developed her relationship with Jesus Christ); “to live my entire life as his follower” (highlights, if you will, the time frame of commitment, a lifelong commitment, a wholehearted commitment). The text also refers a task, a clearly defined program, namely, “to imitate his holy, human life”. Thus the focus of Louise’s life is to imitate Jesus’ lifestyle, his options and gestures, his manner of relating to the Father and with other people, his preferences and attitudes and sentiments … all of which are found in Scripture. Louise wanted to live as Jesus lived and so she stated to Sister Jeanne Lepintre: It is only reasonable that those whom God has called to follow his Son should strive to become holy as he is holy and to make their lives a continuation of his. What a blessing that will be (SWLM:372 [L.328]).

On the day of my baptism I was vowed and dedicated to my God

This phrase appears at the beginning of a text that Louise called her act of consecration (SWLM:693-694 [A.3]). We cannot date this document with any precision. The present version of the text (there might have been an earlier version) would seem to indicate a date prior to May 4th, 1624 and perhaps was written at some time in close proximity to that date. Louise frequently recited this act of consecration. In fact, we know that she resolved to recite it in private on the first Saturday of every month (SWLM:690 [A.1]) and to also recite it to her spiritual director at the conclusion of her general confession. The wording of this document reflects that which is found in Francis de Sales’, Introduction to the Devout Life [13].

The Bishop of Geneva wrote with the intention of encouraging the laity to develop a life of devotion and also wanted to encourage those persons who live out their religious consecration in convents and monasteries to develop a life of perfection. His proposal was as demanding for the laity as it was for professed monks and religious. Religious life, as well as a life of devotion (if lived in an authentic manner), were both viewed as a form of consecrated life regardless of whether one’s life was lived and developed in a cell or the cloister of a convent or in the family home where one performed household tasks, related with other family members and walked the streets of the city.

We know that Louise was an assiduous reader of the works of that saintly bishop who in 1619, during one of his visits to Paris, visited her at her home. She was so devoted to him that she attributed to him the reception of one of her most significant graces: the experience of the light of Pentecost. There is nothing strange about the fact that she was inspired by said doctrine which, as we know, contributed in a decisive manner to her spiritual growth. We will see how that whole-hearted affirmation was lived out in her life.

In Louise’s thinking, authentic consecration occurs at the time of baptism because at that time people become children of God and children of the Church [14] … baptism is a spiritual birth (SWLM:786 [A.23]) that enables people to share in God’s life, the life of the one true God. God, who alone can transform and make something sacred, fills people with his Spirit (SWLM:666 [L.647]). When the Holy Spirit, through the anointing of chrism, takes possession of an individual, that person is transformed and made sacred and holy. Faithful to Christian tradition, Louise viewed every Christian as a consecrated person.

In the catechism that Louise wrote, she highlighted the most important convictions of her faith. She stated that baptism takes away original sin and that same reality allows us to enter heaven [15]. That is so because when we were baptized, our godparents promised that we would live and die as Christians and in our name they renounced the world, the flesh and the devil. In other words, we do not want to listen to the temptations of the devil nor do what the devil suggests. We also promise not to listen to the world nor follow its maxims or seek its vanities. We will not satisfy our bodily pleasure when such actions offend God … we are obliged to fulfill all these demands [16]. Baptism, then, demands that we die to a life that alienates us from God, a life that is oriented by the maxims of the world. We are to resist temptation, to die to sin, to be converted and to live anew … we are to clothe ourselves in the new life that was inaugurated at the time of Jesus’ resurrection. Furthermore, we are to live in accord with the maxims of the gospel and to follow Jesus Christ. Baptized persons are new men and women who belong totally to the Lord.

When a young woman approached Louise to enter the Company of the Daughters of Charity, her only demand was that such individuals would live in accord with their baptismal consecration: this requires strong characters who desire to reach the holiness of true Christians and who want to die to themselves by mortification and a veritable act of renunciation, which they already made at the time of their holy Baptism, so that the Spirit of Jesus Christ may abide in them and grant them the strength to persevere in this way of life which is totally spiritual, although they will be employed in exterior works which appear lowly and despicable in the eyes of the world but which are glorious in the sight of God and His angels (SWLM:674 [L.651]).

When Louise or any of the first Daughters pronounced their vows for the first time or renewed their vows, the formula that they utilized (and that they utilize today) refers to the renewal of their baptismal promises before any mention is made of the vows (SWLM:782 [A.44b]).

In every important confession Louise stated: I sincerely repent of all these sins, once again, relying on the merit of the death of the Savior of my soul as on the only foundation of my hope. In virtue of this, I affirm and renew the sacred profession made to God for me at my Baptism. I irrevocably resolve to love and serve him with greater fidelity and to give myself entirely to him (SWLM:694 [A.3].

Baptism marks the beginning of a process that continues throughout life. Louise received baptism as a child and as she matured, she came to understand that she had received a grace, a task/commitment/plan that had to be fulfilled, a new life that had to be enlightened. What was received as a seed demanded growth and maturity in order to produce good fruit. What was given as talent had to be developed as an ability to collaborate with others and thus replicate its value. Such mysterious strength that quietly and yet powerfully arises when individuals confidently place themselves in God’s hands … such strength enables the Spirit to work in them. During the spiritual retreat of June 1657, when Louise was sixty-six years of age and had had countless experiences, she wrote the following words: One of the greatest losses that a soul can experience by not participating in the coming of the Holy Spirit is that the gifts infused at Baptism do not have their effect, which leads us to see the truth of the warning of Our Lord to cowardly and lazy souls that, not only would they receive nothing, but what they have will be taken from them. This means placing ourselves by our misery in such a state of powerlessness that even grace can do nothing for us (SWLM:817-818 [A.26]).

Let us now reflect on how that grace acted upon her and brought to its fullness the gifts that she received at the time of her baptism. Let us also be attentive to the manner in which she lived her faith, identified herself with Christ and his mission and the Church.

With a lively faith and filled with confidence

Our faith response is an acceptance of Jesus who calls us to enter into a relationship with him … thus our faith response is an unconditional surrender to his person and his message, a commitment to follow him and to collaborate with his plan of salvation. Our faith response implies a change of life (a conversion). It is like the scene that occurs at the time of baptism … in other words, if, in baptism, God freely offers us the gift of salvation and consecrates us as his children, then faith opens people to accept the mystery that unfolds during the celebration of the baptism liturgy and also opens people so that they can make a lifelong commitment.

The Word of God frequently establishes and reveals an intimate bond between faith and baptism: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God (1 John 5:1); No one can etner the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). Through faith one must be born anew by water and the Spirit. The manner in which our baptismal commitment is lived out in our daily life depends on our faith response as Christians.

The faith of Louise de Marillac is enlightening. As a result of the good education that she received Louise grew in her faith and was supported by a good family and a good social environment. According to the practice of that era, the formation that she received in the convent in Poissy revolved around the truths of the Christian faith which also served as criteria in choosing the cultural means to transmit those truths in some educational program. The various catechisms that were utilized at that time contained those truths and the language was adapted to the people for whom those catechisms were intended. At that time some very good catechisms circulated among the people. Louise had knowledge of the various catechisms that were being used in France … and that knowledge enabled her to redact a catechism for the young women who accompanied her.

Thus, life became the background for maturing Louise in her faith. The process of conversion was slow until she experienced the Light of Pentecost, which provided her with clarity. It was then that her mind was instantly freed of all doubt and she heard an invitation to accept God who was being revealed: I felt that is was God who was teaching me these things and that, believing there is a God, I should not doubt the rest (SWLM:1 [A.2]).

Louise’s inherited faith became a living faith. Even though Louise had received her faith as a gift and grace, she had to work with diligence and perseverance in order to become a true believer (for most of her life Louise’s spiritual activity was based on faith and trust which consequently led her to a knowledge of what God desired of her, that is, a knowledge of God’s will for her). She became very meticulous with regard to the introspective analysis of her interior life and even though she referred to her doubts and hesitations, she was nevertheless attentive to those interior movements that enabled her to live a courageous and firm faith. Thus her faith was lively and trusting (SWLM:716 [A.5]). Louise gave witness to that reality when during the month of February 1630 (at the age of twenty-nine) she stated: On Ember Wednesday preceding Christmas, I left for Asnières. I was fearful of making this trip because of my ailments, but the thought of the obedience which was sending me on this trip strengthened me considerably. At Holy Communion, on that day, I was moved to make an act of faith, and this sentiment stayed with me for a long time. It seemed to me that God would grant me health so long as I believed that He could sustain me, despite all appearances, and that He would do so if I often reflected on the faith that enabled Saint Peter to walk on the waters (SWLM:704 [A.50]). The consequence of that act of faith was a joy in realizing that God wanted her to help her neighbor come to a deeper knowledge of God. Thus, Louise was able to journey to Saint-Cloud and seemed to be acting without any contributions on my part (SWLM:704 [A.50]). Louise’s lively faith was revealed in her ministry of love on behalf of her neighbor (cf. James 1:14-26). Here we are referring to a faith that had repercussions in Louise’s daily life, a faith that allowed her to overcome various insecurities and fears, a faith that enlivened her potentialities and inspired her to proclaim the gospel, to serve others and to minister in such a way as to create a new and more human world. Step by step, day after day, Louise came to experience that such faith made her confident that God would never fail to assist her when he asked something of her which seemed to be beyond her capabilities (SWLM:716 [A.5]). Such certainty remained with her throughout her life: I am aware of the great happiness that I have had, through God’s grace, to live and to desire to die in the faith of Jesus Christ (SWLM:202 [L.179])

The relationship between faith and baptism is grounded on the reality that both faith and baptism tend to identify individuals with the person of Jesus Christ, with the life and death and resurrection of Christ.

Imitating Our Lord as much as possible

In order for Louise to live out her baptismal consecration it can be supposed that during her lifetime she cultivated those interior attitudes and thoughts and sentiments that were similar to those that Jesus cultivated while he was on earth. As a baptized person Louise wanted to imitate Jesus’ exemplary human life (SWLM:203 [L.181], 268-269 [L.271], 342 [L.217], 406-407 [L.377]).

The spiritual environment in which Louise moved was inviting and also attractive to her interior movement. In the beginning, she imitated Jesus in his hidden life and then, later, she imitated Jesus who traveled from town to town. It could be said that in every situation in which Louise found herself she had the intention of imitating Jesus. Many texts refer to that reality and here we will focus on one of them: I must bear in mind the fact that the humility which Our Lord practiced at his Baptism is not only a source of humiliation for me but it must also serve as an example which I must imitate, neither to a greater nor to a lesser degree, than would an apprentice imitate his master if he wanted to become perfect. I should have no other thought, leaving the care of the rest to Divine Providence (SWLM:719 [A.8]).

Let us pause and reflect on this text because the baptism of Jesus is a central theme in the gospels. It was precisely at the time of his Baptism, when Jesus requested to be baptized in the Jordan River, that he expressed the meaning of his whole life and his mission. The Paschal Mystery is anticipated at the time of Jesus’ baptism. Through Jesus’ gesture of asking to be baptized, he expressed his commitment and his willingness to offer his life in order to save humankind from their sins, from their alienation from God, for their situation of oppression and injustice … Jesus was willing to lay down his own life if that were necessary. Louise viewed that event as an example that should be imitated. But from all of this, what did she want to reproduce in her own life?

When Jesus arrived on the banks of the River Jordan, he was a young man from Galilee (some thirty years of age) who knew the religious, social and political situation in which he lived. He also knew that every human being had been created in the image of God and that all men and women are called to develop the potential that they have received as gift and that is in their interior as a seed. Jesus was also aware of the fact that people were destined to live an intimate relationship with God, since that would enable them to achieve their fullness, to enjoy the abundance of life (a life filled with love and joy and peace, with tenderness and goodness, with faith, humility and self-control). In that way people participate in the life of God, a life infused with the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23), a life in which they become God’s children. All people long for the coming of God’s Kingdom, a new way of living that is in accord with the criteria that God expressed in the activity of creation and that were later proclaimed by Jesus Christ through his words and his actions … a new way for people to relate to God and to relate to one another. Jesus was a man of his time and of his people, a man who identified himself with the anawin, the poor, those most in need, the oppressed and the marginalized who placed all their hope in God. Jesus criticized the manner in which the dominant classes placed heavy burdens on the lower classes (not only economic and social burdens but also religious burdens that effected their relationship with the God of the covenant). Jesus was aware of the suffering of the simple people and experienced their pain, a pain that resulted from those unjust, undeserving and perverse burdens [17].

That event, which we are very familiar with, was anticipated by John in the desert as he baptized people in the water of the Jordan River. John personified the Old Testament call to prepare the way of the Lord … and in so doing he exhorted people to engage in a process of conversion. The Reign of God, the hope of the Jewish people, was near at hand … and that reality implied a radical change. John embodied a protest movement against the painful situation in which people found themselves. In John’s view, injustice was composed of all those realities opposed to that which is good, opposed to those elements that contribute to the development of individuals and, therefore, elements that prevent them from living the fullness of life. As people admitted their sinfulness, they were able to become responsible for the situation in which they lived, a situation that was formed as the result of sin and injustice. People, longing for some form of utopia, came out en masse and expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation. When they were baptized, they recognized their complicity with injustice (the result of sin) and they resolved to avoid acting unjustly in the future. Their past, their sins, remained submerged in the water and in that way they were able to begin a new life, a life in which they accepted the exhortation/the demand to prepare the way of the Lord. John baptized with water, but the Messiah who came after him, would pour forth the Spirit upon the people, consecrating them in fidelity to the Lord [18].

Jesus appeared in the midst of that situation and entered into solidarity with the protest movement that had been begun by John and his exhortation to the people to change their way of life. Jesus presented himself in the midst of the people and began his public life and also began to fulfill his mission. His baptism, however, does not signify death to the past because he was not an accomplice to the unjust situation … therefore, there was no confession of sin. When Jesus went down into the water, he was expressing his commitment and his willingness to lay down his life (even if that meant enduring violence), and to do so in a disinterested and permanent manner on behalf of all people. As Jesus came up from the water, the sky opened, the Spirit descended upon him and a voice was heard: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). At that moment every barrier between God and the human person and every barrier between the divine and the human disappeared. God had handed himself over, offered himself and communicated himself in the person of Jesus, who in turn committed himself to act on behalf of all people. The Spirit, the life of God, came upon Jesus and he was anointed … and that symbolized the fact that the natural place for the Spirit of God was Jesus, who revealed a profound love, an infinite love for humanity. Jesus is the Son, the Beloved, the One upon whom the Father had bestowed his favor … Jesus was the living presence of God on earth.

In accord with the perspective of Louise, incorporation into Jesus Christ was accomplished at the time of baptism and consisted of a twofold movement:

  • A lifelong commitment to work on behalf of humankind: We who are baptized in Jesus Christ are baptized in his death … Louise then continued and stated: Let us live, therefore, as if we were dead in Jesus Christ. Henceforth, let there be no further resistance to Jesus, no action except for Jesus, no thoughts but in Jesus! May my life be solely for Jesus and my neighbor so that, by means of this unifying love, I may love all that Jesus loves, and through the power of this love which has as its center the eternal love of God for His creatures, I may obtain from His goodness the graces which His mercy wills to bestow upon me … she concluded with the following words: as his children we must resemble him (SWLM:786 [A.23]).
  • The new life that shines forth (baptism is a spiritual birth) enkindles in people a new life that is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the life of the children of God, a life that seeks the things that are above, a life that contributes to the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth. Louise stated: my meditation was on my desire to rise with Our Lord. Since, without death, there can be no Resurrection, I realized that it was my evil inclinations which must die and that I must die completely to myself by deadening my passions and desires. I saw clearly that of myself I could never hope to achieve this, but it seemed to me that our good God was asking it of me. Therefore, I gave Him my full consent to operate in me by His power whatever He willed to see accomplished (SWLM:720 [A.12]) [19].

We can view this gospel passage as a paradigm that animated Louise to imitate the life of Jesus Christ. We note that even though Louise was not exempt from the effects of sin and human weakness, she nevertheless clothed herself in an attitude that enabled her to imitate Jesus on a permanent basis … an attitude that was received as gift and grace and that led her to configure her life with that of Jesus. We highlight here the fact that she not only was able to achieve an exterior imitation, performing the same actions that Jesus did when he walked the earth, but through the work of grace, was able to achieve an interior imitation, that is, she clothed herself in the sentiments and the virtues of Jesus (something that she attained through spiritual work on her interior movement and through communication in which Jesus himself clothed her in those virtues). Louise stated: On Monday, during the reception of Holy Communion, I suddenly felt moved by the desire that Our Lord should come to me and communicate his virtues to me. Prior to this, I seemed to experience shame for the ill-use I had made of the honor of receiving him (SWLM:825 [A.18]). The Spirit filled Louise with grace and bestowed on her gifts. That reality led Vincent de Paul, who knew her very well, to speak with the Sisters soon after Louise’s death and say: She did what Saint Paul said: “it is no longer I who live, but Jesus who lives in me” [20].

Once again we see that desire and attraction motivated and impelled Louise: My meditation was more reflective than reasoning. I felt a great attraction for the holy humanity of Our Lord and I desired to honor and imitate it insofar as I was able in the person of the poor and of all my neighbors. I had read somewhere that He had taught us charity to make up for our powerlessness to render any service to His person. This touched my heart very particularly and very intimately (SWLM:820 [A.26]).

I wish to live and die in the Catholic Church

On December 15th, 1645, Louise stated: I protest before God, and before all creatures, that I wish to live and die in the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church [21]. Her last will and testament was redacted in the presence of a notary and she was very much aware of the fact that baptism makes us children of God and children of the Church. For Louise that reality was cause for great happiness (SWLM:203 [L.179]). That divine filiation is further expanded in the church community where bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood are established among all believers. Entrance into the community of faith takes on the character of consecration.

Louise’s awareness of belonging to the Church was very clear and firm. She could never imagine living her faith in private or saving herself by her own efforts. She had been baptized in the Church and it was there, in the Church that her deepest aspirations had matured … it was within the Church that Louise breathed, moved, dreamed and acted.

As we examine the spiritual orientation that Louise gave to her life we see that her home and her parish church were points of reference for her personal, family and social activities. The place for rest and recovering her strength, the place for retreat and for establishing a bond with her deepest desires was the parish, any church or some convent. Louise maintained a relationship of respect and trust and assistance with the pastors of the parishes in which she lived.

The Church, however, was not only the parish. Rather quickly Louise’s concept of Church was broadened … not only on the conceptual level but also on the level of her lived experience. As a result of her encounter with Vincent de Paul, her activity enabled her to move out beyond the boundaries of her parish and to encompass the diocese. Very soon Louise was able to form some type of relationship with the bishop of every diocese in which the Confraternity of Charity had been established. According to her own testimony, Louise often desired to go Rome in order to receive the blessing of the Holy Father … indeed, it was in Rome that one found the source of the holy Church, its head, the Holy Father of all Christians (SWLM:202 [L.179]).

Moving beyond the geographical limits of the local, diocesan and universal church, Louise experienced herself as being a member of a church with another dimension. While she was on this earth she was a member of the Church militant … the church to which she bound her life and her mission. Her physical presence in that church symbolized another type of presence which filled her with even more life to the degree that her spiritual, moral and human dimension became more mature. Here we refer to the Church that she journeyed amid while on this earth, all the while awaiting entrance into the Church triumphant. Louise stated that it is then that we shall enjoy that intimate union with him which we can never completely attain here on earth (SWLM:515 [L.531b]).

Louise also experienced herself as a members of the Church that is the Mystical Body of Christ … a mysterious reality filled with supernatural life that we refer to as grace, as communion with Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head and we are the members. The Holy Spirit fills and nurtures said body with the very life of God. That ecclesial experience of the Mystical Body enabled Louise to be filled with that grace, with the spiritual richness that was life-giving. The following text illustrates that point: O profound and inscrutable secret! O Trinity perfect in power, wisdom, and love! You bring to completion the work of founding the Holy Church. You desire her to be the Mother of all believers. To this end, you console her by instructing and strengthening her in the truths which the Incarnate Word had taught her. You infused into this Mystical Body the union of your works, giving her the power to perform miracles so as to enable her to bring to souls the true witness which you willed her to bear to your Son. You operated in them holiness of life by the merits of the Word Incarnate. The Holy Spirit, by means of his unitive love, associates himself to this action in order to produce the same effects by his coming. He thus renders to men the proof of the divinity and perfect manhood of Christ which should be for all a source of joy, emulation, and true detachment from worldly affections so as to form oneself according to his holy and divine actions which should lead to the resolution to live as reasonable human beings (SWLM:820-821 [A.26]).

Finally, Louise also viewed the Church as the spouse of Christ (cf. SWLM:725 [A.35]). The ancient prophets had developed the spousal relationship between the People of Israel and God. The New Testament brought about a change by attributing to Christ the title of bridegroom and the Church as bride. Baptism produces this nuptial union: Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27). What happens with regard to the whole Church also happens to the individual. Christ purifies the Church through baptism in order to make her his bride. We say that a story of love unfolds in all people at the time of their baptism, in other words, there is a consent to enter into marriage. This nuptial character of baptism is the prolongation in the church of the betrothal of the Verb with humanity and this actually occurs in each and every person who is baptized [22].

If love is present in every dimension of the baptismal consecration, then the living out of that ecclesial dimension promotes and guarantees one’s existence when lived from the perspective of love. Louise de Marillac lived this dimension with zeal and enthusiasm. She wanted to imitate Jesus as a spouse tries to resemble her husband (SWLM:716 [A.5]) and therefore gave a preeminent value to purity in her personal life as well as when she encouraged the Daughters of Charity. In those situations, she would say: we are the spouses of Jesus Christ (SWLM:785 [M.33]). Louise lived her incorporation into the Church as the Bride of Christ with great intensity and responsibility and she was most grateful for an extraordinary experience that occurred on the morning of February 5, 1630. At that time Louise lived on rue Saint-Victor in the parish of Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet. She was preparing for a journey to Saint-Cloud in order to visit the women who were members of the Confraternity there. Before leaving she approached the Colège des Bons-Enfants in order to participate in the Eucharist. Let us listen to Louise’s words as she tells us what occurred: At the moment of Holy Communion, it seemed to me that Our Lord inspired me to receive him as the Spouse of my soul and that this Communion was a manner of espousal. I felt myself more closely united to him by this consideration which was extraordinary for me. I also felt moved to leave everything to follow my Spouse; to look upon him as such in the future; and to bear with the difficulties I might encounter as part of the community of his goods. God permitting, I wanted to have a Mass celebrated on that day because it was the anniversary of my marriage. I abstained, however, wishing to perform an act of poverty and to depend solely upon God in the action I was about to undertake. I had not expressed my wish to my confessor who celebrated the Mass at which I received Holy Communion. However, as he came out on the altar, the thought came to him to celebrate it for me as an alms and to say the nuptial Mass (SWLM:705 [A.50]).

Finally, during times of prayer or during any liturgical celebration in which she participated, her mind was filled by an interior communion (SWLM:833 [M.8b]) … a type of reciprocity which, when viewed from the spousal perspective, was the source from which sprang an abundance of love and joy. Fortunately, we have various texts which enlighten this reciprocal encounter of two persons who give themselves to each other, who respect each other’s freedom, who give mutual consent … all of which is fundamental when speaking about mature Christian consecration: On the Feast of All Saints, I was particularly overwhelmed by the thought of my lowliness, when my soul was made to understand that my God wanted to come to me. However, he did not wish to come into some temporary dwelling but to a place that was rightly his and which belonged entirely to him. Therefore, I could not refuse him entrance. As a living soil, I had to welcome him joyfully as the true possessor of my soul and simply acquiesce to him, giving him my heart as the throne of his Majesty (SWLM:697-698 [A.17]).

Go, Mademoiselle, go in the name of Our Lord

Mission is rooted in baptismal consecration. At the time of one’s incorporation into Jesus Christ, an event that occurs at the time of baptism, there results a participation in Jesus’ mission, in Jesus’ being sent forth for the salvation of humankind. The Church is an ever expanding community that experiences the need to proclaim the reality of Jesus’ resurrection and his plan of salvation for all people. Like the women (Luke 24:11) and the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:33) and Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:10; John 20:18), every baptized person feels compelled to proclaim the fact that Christ lives and saves us: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16).

In her early writings Louise viewed mission as serving my neighbor with great humility and gentleness (SWLM:689 [A.1]) and helping them to attain their eternal salvation so that they may reach the goal for which they were created (SWLM:698 [A.7]). We know that from a very early age (and even during the time of her marriage) Louise engaged in various charitable works. As her encounter with Jesus Christ deepened, she became more desirous of going out and proclaiming the good news … more desirous of being a witness.

As a result of her encounter with Vincent de Paul she began to become more aware of her abilities as an evangelizer and, as a result, the horizons of her mission were broadened. She began to collaborate cleaning and adorning the parish churches that Vincent and his companions found in such a bad state when they preached popular missions. At the same time Louise donated material goods to the poor, received into her home young women who traveled from the rural areas to Paris and engaged in many other charitable activities. Interiorly, however, she felt impelled to do more. Then, in 1629, she received a letter from Vincent which stated: Go, therefore, Mademoiselle, go in the name of Our Lord. I pray that his divine goodness may accompany you, be your consolation along the way, your shade against the heat of the sun, your shelter in rain and cold, your soft bed in your weariness, your strength in your toil, and, finally, that he may bring you back in perfect health and filled with good works (CCD:I:64-65) [23]. Louise began to visit the members of the Confraternities that had been established in various town and villages. She encouraged the women and dialogued with them about their commitment to serve the poor. At that time Louise began to formulate her mission as one of helping my neighbor to know God (SWLM:705 [A.50]). With the passing of time and as she was joined by other young women who desired to serve the poor, Louise began to view her mission in a broader perspective as serving the poor and guiding and assisting our Sisters (SWLM:769 [A.75]).

The content of this mission, as service on behalf of the neighbor and on behalf of the poor, was formulated as spiritual and corporal service. The whole person was taken into consideration, thus imitating our Lord who, in curing, always gave some advice for the salvation of souls (SWLM:809 [A.92]) [24]. To evangelize is to help people come to a knowledge of God and thus enable them to live in accord with those truths that are necessary for salvation. In other words, the process of evangelization enables people to live in accord with the purpose for which they were created.

It is important to pause and reflect on what Vincent and Louise refer to as to help people to live well (CCD:II:599) [25]. In the practical order, this phrase refers to the service that Louise engaged in and that she taught to the Daughters so that they might do the same. Furthermore, those words implied teaching people to live in accord with the gospel, teaching people to integrate gospel values into their lives and, in that way, imitate Jesus Christ. Louise stated that this manner of service produced much fruit. In light of that, when serving the poor it is important to attend not only to their primary material and other more urgent needs, but also to teach them (children and adults) the catechism which contains the truths necessary for salvation (a salvation that has consequences in everyday life). That manner of acting is closely related to that of Jesus Christ who was certain that his words and his example were able to lead people to the fullness of life.

In general, Louise viewed mission as bringing to souls the true witness which God willed her to bear to Jesus Christ. She then added: … to give witness to the divinity and perfect manhood of Christ which should be for all a source of joy, emulation, and true detachment from worldly affections so as to form oneself according to his holy and divine actions which should lead to the resolution to live as reasonable human beings. I believe that this is what Our Lord wished to convey to his Apostles when he told them that, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, they would also bear witness to him. This is what all Christians must do, not by bearing witness to the doctrine of Christ … but by the perfect actions of true Christians. Blessed are those persons who, under the guidance of Divine Providence, are called upon to continue the ordinary practices of the life of the Son of God through the exercise of charity (SWLM:820-821 [A.26]).

Footnotes

[1] Gobillon, The Life of Mademoiselle Le Gras (1984): English. Paper 1, page 4; http://via.library.depaul.edu/gobillon_eng/1.

[2] La Compañia de las Hijas de la Caridad en sus Orígenes: Documentos [The Company of the Daughters of Charity at the time of its Establishment: Documents], Editorial CEME, Santa Marta de Tormes, Salamanca, 2003, p. 813.

[3] LOUISE DE MARILLAC, Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac, Edited and Translated from the French by Sister Louise Sullivan, DC, New City Press, Brooklyn, New York, 1991, p. 1, document A.2. Future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [SWLM] followed by the page number, followed by the number of the letter or the number of the writing and/or manuscript, for example, SWLM:1 [A.2]).

[4] Martínez, B., Empeñada en un paraíso para los pobres, Editorial CEME, Salamanca, 1995, p. 24.

[5] Gobillon, op.cit., p.4.

[6] Translator’s Note: this is a reference to the catechism that Louise wrote and while this text appears in the Spanish edition of Louise’s writings, it is not included in the English edition.

[7] Translator’s Note: the Spanish reference is to Document A.34 and A35 but in the English edition of this work A.34 does not appear, therefore, the translation of that text is my own.

[8] In the English edition of Louise’s writings, Documents A.1 and A.2 are dated 1621 and 1622 respectively. Document A.3 is undated. Note that in the narration of the events in Document A.3 the past tense of the verb is utilized, indicating that the events have already occurred. When one has experienced events in a profound manner, said events leave a deep impression and as a result one has a clear recollection of those events and can later describe those events in a truthful and authentic manner. Those events that Louise experienced might have been put into writing when one of her spiritual directors, perhaps Vincent de Paul, encouraged her to write about what she had experienced in prayer.

[9] Cf. Psalm 42, 63, 84 and John 4; see also, SWLM:778 [A.42].

[10] Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, p.8 (accessed on line at: https://www.google.com/webhp?source=search_app&gws_rd=ssl#q=introduction+to+the+devout+life+pdf

[11] Even though this document is undated, we can suppose that is was written soon after Louise married, the time when she decided to give a spiritual orientation to her life and to distance herself from superficiality, frivolity, and an easy, comfortable life.

[12] Note that when Louise wrote those words to Sister Hardemont, thirty-two years had passed since the time when she first used that phrase (1622). Thus we can see that her desire to give herself to God had acquired a certain firmness.

[13] Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life (on-line edition): The First Part, Chapter XX which is entitled, A hearty protest made with the object of confirming the soul’s resolution to serve God, as a conclusion to its act of penitence, was summarized by Louise who freely copied those sections that she felt to be most relevant. At the end of the previous chapter (XIX) we read: then take the following protest as a summary of your contrition, having carefully studied and meditated upon it beforehand: read it through with as earnest an intention as you can make.

[14] Translator’s Note: this is a reference to the catechism that Louise wrote and while this text appears in the Spanish edition of Louise’s writings, it is not included in the English edition.

[15] See note #14.

[16] See note #14.

[17] Cf. J. Mateos and F. Camacho, El horizon humano. La propuesta de Jesús (The Human Horizon: Jesus’ Proposal), Ediciones el Almendro, Cordoba, 1995, 5th edition. Chapter 1: El mundo judío en la época de Jesús (The Jewish World at the time of Jesus). See also, J.A. Pagola, Jesus, An Historical Approximation, Revised Edition, translated by Margaret Wiilde, Convivium Press, 2014, Chapter 2: A Galilean Jew p. 29-51.

[18] Cf. J. Mateos and F. Camacho, El horizon humano. La propuesta de Jesús (The Human Horizon: Jesus’ Proposal), Ediciones el Almendro, Cordoba, 1995, 5th edition. Chapter 2: La nueva humanidad (The New Humanity); see also, J.A. Pagola, Jesus, An Historical Approximation, Revised Edition, translated by Margaret Wiilde, Convivium Press, 2014, Chapter 3: Life in Nazareth, p. 53-73.

[19] This document is dated 1633 and the events described, occurred on Easter Sunday, shortly before the establishment of the Company of the Daughters of Charity (at that time Louise was forty-two years of age).

[20] Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, translators: Helen Marie Law, DC (Vol. 1), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 1-14), James King, CM (Vol. 1-2), Francis Germovnik, CM (Vol. 1-8, 13a-13b [Latin]), Esther Cavanagh, DC (Vol. 2), Ann Mary Dougherty, DC (Vol. 12); Evelyne Franc, DC (Vol. 13a-13b), Thomas Davitt, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Glennon E. Figge, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), John G. Nugent, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Andrew Spellman, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]); edited: Jacqueline Kilar, DC (Vol. 1-2), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 2-14), Julia Denton, DC [editor-in-chief] (Vol. 3-10, 13a-13b), Paule Freeburg, DC (Vol. 3), Mirian Hamway, DC (Vol. 3), Elinor Hartman, DC (Vol. 4-10, 13a-13b), Ellen Van Zandt, DC (Vol. 9-13b), Ann Mary Dougherty (Vol. 11, 12 and 14); annotated: John W. Carven, CM (Vol. 1-14); New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014; volume X, p. 585; future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [CCD] followed by the volume number, followed by the page number, for example, CCD:X:585.

[21] Betty Ann McNeil, DC, “Last Will and Testament of Saint Louise de Marillac”, Vincentian Heritage, Volume 15, #2 (1994), p. 103.

[22] C. Palmes, Teología bautismal y vida religiosa (Baptismal Theology and Religious life), Secretariado General de la CLAR, Bogotá, 1975, 2nd edition, p. 41.

[23] Those words that Vincent wrote to Louise were inspired by a passage from the Inineraire des clers.

[24] See also: SWLM:515 [L.531b], 538-539 [L.511], 545 [L.403], 677 [L.655], 707 [A.46], 782 [A44b], 832-833 [A.100].

[25] Translator's Note: In the Spanish text there is a reference to document #A.64 which does not appear in the writings of Saint Louise but does appear in the second volume of Vincent’s writings as cited.


Translated; Charles T. Plock, CM