Saint of the day:
Saint Louise de Marillac
Patron Saint of Social workers,
disappointing children, loss of parents, people rejected by religious orders, sick people, widows
Saint Louise de Marillac’s Story
Born near Meux, France, Louise lost her mother when she was still a child, her beloved father when she was but 15. Her desire to become a nun was discouraged by her confessor, and a marriage was arranged. One son was born of this union. But Louise soon found herself nursing her beloved husband through a long illness that finally led to his death.
Louise was fortunate to have a wise and sympathetic counselor, Francis de Sales, and then his friend, the bishop of Belley, France. Both of these men were available to her only periodically. But from an interior illumination she understood that she was to undertake a great work under the guidance of another person she had not yet met. This was the holy priest Monsieur Vincent, later to be known as Saint Vincent de Paul.
At first, he was reluctant to be her confessor, busy as he was with his “Confraternities of Charity.” Members were aristocratic ladies of charity who were helping him nurse the poor and look after neglected children, a real need of the day. But the ladies were busy with many of their own concerns and duties. His work needed many more helpers, especially ones who were peasants themselves and therefore, close to the poor and able to win their hearts. He also needed someone who could teach them and organize them.
Only over a long period of time, as Vincent de Paul became more acquainted with Louise, did he come to realize that she was the answer to his prayers. She was intelligent, self-effacing, and had physical strength and endurance that belied her continuing feeble health. The missions he sent her on eventually led to four simple young women joining her. Her rented home in Paris became the training center for those accepted for the service of the sick and poor. Growth was rapid and soon there was the need for a so-called “rule of life,” which Louise herself, under the guidance of Vincent, drew up for the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
Monsieur Vincent had always been slow and prudent in his dealings with Louise and the new group. He said that he had never had any idea of starting a new community, that it was God who did everything. “Your convent,” he said, “will be the house of the sick; your cell, a hired room; your chapel, the parish church; your cloister, the streets of the city or the wards of the hospital.” Their dress was to be that of the peasant women. It was not until years later that Vincent de Paul would finally permit four of the women to take annual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It was still more years before the company would be formally approved by Rome and placed under the direction of Vincent’s own congregation of priests.
Many of the young women were illiterate. Still it was with reluctance that the new community undertook the care of neglected children. Louise was busy helping wherever needed despite her poor health. She traveled throughout France, establishing her community members in hospitals, orphanages and other institutions. At her death on March 15, 1660, the congregation had more than 40 houses in France. Six months later Vincent de Paul followed her in death.
Louise de Marillac was canonized in 1934 and declared patroness of social workers in 1960.
Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
140 Rue du Bac, 75340 Paris, France
Rice Pudding Brûlée
4 cups whole milk (or half and half)
3 cinnamon sticks roughly broken
5 cardamom pods crushed
1 vanilla bean split
2 one-inch strips of lemon peel
3 egg yolks
1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1 1/2 cups arborio rice cooked
1/2 tsp salt
Granulated sugar for topping
Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and lemon peel. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the bean to the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and bring the milk to a simmer. Right before it starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat, cover it with a lid, and let it sit for 30-45 minutes, so the milk becomes infused with the flavors.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and spray your ramekins or large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, and brown sugar. Pour the milk through a fine mesh strainer into the egg mixture, straining out all of the spices. Whisk everything well. Add the cooked rice and the salt and stir well, until everything is combined—make sure the rice is separated into individual grains and isn’t clumped together.
Ladle the rice pudding into the ramekins or baking dish. Place the ramekins or dish in a larger baking pan and fill the pan with water that comes halfway up the sides of the rice pudding dishes. Bake at 350 F for about 30-35 minutes for small, shallow dishes, or up to an hour for large, deep dishes. The pudding should look brown around the edges and feel set, with just a slight jiggle, when you lightly tap it.
Carefully remove the dishes from the water bath and let them cool at room temperature until they are no longer hot. (If desired, the pudding can now be refrigerated until you are ready to eat it.)
To add the brûlée effect, sprinkle the tops with a thin layer of granulated sugar. If you have a kitchen torch, light it up and gently pass the flame over the surface of the pudding in smooth, even strokes, until the sugar melts and caramelizes. If you want a deeper, thicker caramel layer, repeat this process a second time. It’s better to do two thin layers than to try and caramelize a thick layer of sugar—it will cook unevenly, leaving you with burnt or undercooked spots.
If you don’t have a kitchen torch, place the sugared ramekins on a baking sheet and set them under the broiler, until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Watch them closely, as it’s easy to burn the tops with this method. Let the sugar cool and harden, then enjoy immediately.