Lent: March 15th
Saturday of the First Week of Lent
Other Commemorations: St. Louise de Marillac, Widow (RM)
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According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Louise de Marillac. She was born in 1592, and married in 1613. When her husband died she made a vow of widowhood and devoted herself entirely to works of charity. St. Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual director, gradually initiated her into his own charitable works for the poor and afflicted, and in 1639 they founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity to which St. Louise dedicated the rest of her life. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on March 11, 1934.
Today is an Ember Day in the Tridentine Rite. There are two principal objects for the Ember Days of this period of the year: the first is to offer to God the season of Spring, and, by fasting and prayer, to draw down His blessing upon it; the second is to ask Him to enrich with His choicest graces the priests and sacred ministers who are to receive their Ordination on Saturday.
St. Louise de Marillac
St. Louise de Marrillac married an official of the royal court, Antony Le Gras, and after his death in 1625 was an active supporter of the charitable work of St Vincent de Paul, who came to put more and more reliance on her. Mademoiselle Le Gras, as she was known, became the co-founder with him of the Daughters of Charity, whose 'convent is the sick-room, their chapel the parish church, their cloister the city streets'; it was she who drew up the first draft of their rule of life. Her clear intelligence and wide sympathy played a big part in the beginnings of the congregation, whose aspirants she trained and whose rapid growth involved responsibilities which largely fell on her. At the time of her death there were already over forty houses of the sisters in France, the sick poor were looked after at home in twenty-six Parisian parishes, hundreds of women were given shelter, and there were other undertakings as well. St Louise was not physically robust, but she had great powers of endurance, and her selfless devotion was a source of incalculable help and encouragement to Monsieur Vincent.
—Dictionary of Saints by Donald Attwater.
Patronage: disappointing children; loss of parents; people rejected by religious orders; sick people; Christian Social Workers (proclaimed on 12 February 1960 by Pope John XXIII); Vincentian Service Corps; widows
Symbols and Representation: widows' clothing; Saint Louise is depicted wearing the original Vincentian habit of grey wool with a large headdress of white linen (typical of poor women in 17th century Brittany), perhaps with an infant in her arms.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Louise:
- Teach your children this simple morning aspiration by St. Louise: "Grant me the grace to spend this day without offending You and without failing my neighbor."
- Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul which she helped found.
- St. Louise's remains are enshrined in the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. Her body is not incorrupt, but rather the body in the chapel is actually a wax effigy, containing her bones.
- Begin planning a family Passion presentation or play in which all can participate. You may want to plan this for the end of Lent — Spy Wednesday or Holy Thursday would be particularly appropriate days for this.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
Station with San Sisto il vecchio (St. Sisto):
This church was called "San Sisto il vecchio" because it is the oldest convent in Rome of the sons of the Saint of Callaroca. The current construction is quite recent; in fact it was built in 1700 by the Dominican Pope Benedict XIII (1724-1730). He certainly did it to honor the memory of the Founder of the Order, San Domenico, who had his first Roman residence here; Honorius III, after having approved the Order of Preachers, gave him this temple. Tradition has it that at this church Pope Sixtus II met with San Lorenzo to whom he predicted the martyrdom which, moreover, happened after three days. As of 2019, there is a temporary closure. Currently the substitute Station Church is Sant’Andrea della Valle (St Andrew in the Valley), dedicated to St. Andrew the Apostle. In 2021 and 2022, the Mass was celebrated at Santi Nereo e Achilleo.
For more on San Sisto il vecchio, see:
For more on Sant’Andrea della Valle, see:
For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.