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Who founded the Daughters of Charity?

Saint Louise de Marillac Chapel
The St. Louise de Marillac Chapel

Distinguished by her heart for the poor and underprivileged, St. Louise de Marillac worked with St. Vincent de Paul to establish the Daughters of Charity, who still care for those in need around the globe today. As we celebrate the anniversary of her entrance into eternal life on March 15, we invite you to learn more about her legacy and virtually tour her chapel at the Basilica. 

St. Louise de Marillac’s Early Life

Louise de Marillac was born in France in 1591. When she was just a child, her mother passed away, and a few years later, the death of her father left her orphaned at age 15. Finding herself alone in the world with no means of supporting herself, she married Antony Le Gras, the queen’s secretary. Though the match was initially strategic, they were happy together and had a son named Michel.

Unfortunately, Anthony became gravely ill and passed away when Michel was still young. Following Anthony’s death, Louise began spending more time working with St. Vincent de Paul, her spiritual director, to serve those in need in Paris.

St. Louise’s Work with St. Vincent de Paul

Together, Louise and Vincent were a powerful force for God. Realizing that their projects required more than just part-time volunteers, they gathered a community of women who dedicated their lives completely to the service of the sick and impoverished. Called the Daughters of Charity, the order was unlike other religious orders in that it was not based in a convent. The Daughters of Charity continued to grow throughout Louise’s lifetime, and after her death in 1660. Today, it includes thousands of members across the globe, continuing Louise’s heart for humanitarianism. St. Louise de Marillac is now known as the patroness of Christian social workers.

Take the Virtual Tour of the St. Louise de Marillac Chapel

In the Basilica, the Chapel of St. Louise de Marillac is fittingly located across from the St. Vincent de Paul Chapel, and shares similarities in design. Experience it in immersive 360° with our virtual tour below.


Butler’s Lives of the Saints (ed. by Bernard Bangley)

Light a Candle at the Basilica

Light a Candle at the BasilicaIn honor of St. Louise de Marillac, we invite you to light a candle today at the National Shrine. Vigil candles burn in the chapels throughout the Great Upper church and lower crypt level of the National Shrine. Each candle represents the faith of the supplicants and their fervent prayers entrusted to the loving intercession of the Blessed Mother.

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