Princess Louise of France (1737–1787)
|Louise of France|
Later portrait of Madame Louise by Drouais
15 July 1737|
|Died||23 December 1787
Convent of Saint-Denis
|Father||Louis XV of France|
Louise of France (15 July 1737 – 23 December 1787) was the youngest of the ten children of Louis XV and his wife, Maria Leszczyńska. As a daughter of the king, she held the rank of a fille de France. From 1740 she was known as Madame Louise.
Louise was born at Versailles on 15 July 1737, and was at first known as "Madame Septième" (one of her seven older sisters died before her birth) or "Madame Dernière", later "Madame Louise". She was sent to be raised at the Abbey of Fontevraud with Louis' three other young daughters, Victoire, Sophie and Thérèse (who died at Fontevraud at the age of eight). On 20 December 1738 she was baptised at Fonevraud; her godfather was François-Marc-Antoine de Bussy, seigneur de Bisé; her godmother was Marie-Louise Bailly-Adenet, first woman of the chamber to her sister Madame Thérèse. When Louise reminded a nun at the convent that she was the daughter of the King, the nun replied: "And I am the daughter of God".
None of King Louis' projects for Louise's marriage came to fruition, and she sought sanctuary from the world in her religion. In 1748, there were rumours that Louis would have her engaged to Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the throne of England.
In 1770, to general amazement, Louise asked her father to allow her to become a Carmelite nun. She believed that becoming a nun would compensate for her father's lax morals. Louise joined the convent at Saint-Denis, where the order's rule was obeyed strictly, taking the name Thérèse of Saint Augustine. On 10 September 1770, she took the habit. On 1 October 1771, she gave her vows and was fully accepted into the order.
Louise became prioress of the convent 25 November 1773. She served as prioress from 1773 to 1779, and a second term from 1785. She interceded with her father to allow Austrian Carmelites persecuted by the Emperor Joseph II to enter France. While at the convent, she tried her best to make sure that the other nuns treated her as an equal rather than the daughter of a king. As a child, she had an accident that affected her knee. As a result, she found it difficult to kneel, but when she was offered assistance, she refused. On 26 May 1774, two weeks after the death of her father, she was visited at Saint-Denis by her nephew, King Louis XVI.
She died at Saint-Denis, suffering from a stomach complaint. Her last words were the following:
Au paradis! Vite! Au grand galop!" ("To paradise! Fast! At the great gallop!)
A young Louise by Jean-Marc Nattier
Louis XV visiting his youngest daughter
Louise as she was when she took the name of Thérèse of Saint Augustine
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- Leathes, Stanley, The religion of the Christ, its historic and literary development, Oxford University, 1874, p. 356
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- Calvimont, Victorine de. Mme Louise de France, carmélite. Bourdeaux: Ragot, 1855.
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- Dossier biographique et bibliographie sur le site du Carmel de France
- Venerable Therese of St. Augustine