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Abstract

This article presents “a spiritual portrait” of Louise de Marillac as reconstructed from Vincent’s letters to her and explores her prayer life using her writings. After 1623, Louise went on a complex and difficult journey of faith that was shaped by her temperament, her experience, and her time. She was extremely intelligent and capable, but also needed frequent spiritual reassurance, which Vincent de Paul provided throughout their relationship. However, she was well educated in the Bible and in spiritual practices before she met him. Her beginning was ascetic, with a demanding prayer schedule. Such discipline was related to her self-doubt. She was freed from this by service to Christ as she saw him in the poor and a corresponding deeper discovery of God’s love. Her interior life was still essential, but it was more spontaneous. Vincent helped her reach this end by teaching her to trust in providence. Louise was then able to accomplish her work with the Confraternities of Charity.

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