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Saint Vincent de Paul - Founder Of The Vincentians
EWTN ^ | 00/00/00 | John J Crawley & Co Inc(Publisher)

Posted on 09/27/2002 4:53:06 PM PDT by Lady In Blue

Feast: July 19[feast day moved to September 27th]
Like his fellow saint, Francis de Sales, who was his friend and contemporary, Vincent de Paul performed an invaluable service to the Catholic Church in a period of confusion and laxness. But unlike the aristocratic bishop of Geneva, Vincent was born in poverty, of peasant stock. His birthplace was Pouy, near Dax in Gascony, in southwest France; the year was 1576. Jean de Paul and Bertrande de Moras, his parents, were sturdy farming people who reared a family of four sons and two daughters. Observing young Vincent's quick intelligence, his father sent him to be educated by the Cordelier Brothers[1] at Dax. When the boy had been at school for four years, a lawyer of the town engaged him as tutor to his children, thus enabling Vincent to go on with his studies without further expense to his parents. Vincent continued his education at the Spanish University of Saragossa, and then returned to France to attend the University of Toulouse. At the age of twenty-four he was ordained priest by' the bishop of Perigueux, but remained at Toulouse for another four years to take the degree of Doctor of Theology.

Beyond an aptitude for study and a certain persistence in achieving his ends, there is nothing in Vincent's life up to this time to suggest his future fame and sanctity. He now went on a short journey which was to change his whole life. The scholarly young priest was to be captured at sea by pirates and sold as a slave in Africa! This extraordinary happening came about in the following way. Vincent, having returned home after receiving his degree, went back to Toulouse to recover by process of law a small legacy which had been left him by an old woman of that city. Homeward bound, he made the trip from Marseilles to Narbonne by water, on board a small coastwise vessel. The ship was set upon by three brigantines manned by Barbary pirates, who were at this time a menace to all Mediterranean shipping. When the Christians refused to strike their flag, the infidels attacked them with arrows. Three were killed and several, including Vincent, were wounded. Those who remained alive were put in chains, and the pirates straightway sailed to Africa with their human cargo. Landing at Tunis, the pirates led their prisoners through the streets of the city, after which they were brought back to the vessel and sold to the highest bidder, like cattle. Vincent, bought by a fisherman, was sold again to an aged Moslem, a humane man, who had spent fifty years in search of the "philosopher's stone." He grew fond of his slave, to whom he gave long lectures on alchemy and Mohammedanism; he even promised to make Vincent his heir and also to communicate to him all the secrets of his science if he adopted the religion of Islam. The young priest, terrified that his faith would be corrupted in this alien environment, prayed for divine protection, particularly for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin.

Vincent continued firm in his faith and lived on with the old man until his death, when he became the property of his master's nephew, who soon sold him to a renegade Christian, a native of Nice. This man, a convert to Mohammedanism, had three wives, one of whom was a Turkish woman. She often wandered into the field where the new Christian slave was at work, and out of idle curiosity would ask him to sing songs in praise of his God. With tears running down his cheeks Vincent would obediently sing certain Psalms, among which was Psalm cxxxvii, "By the waters of Babylon," in which the Jews bewailed their captivity. The Turkish woman now began to reproach her husband for abandoning his religion, and kept on until, without herself accepting the faith, she made him return to it. He repented of his apostasy, and he and Vincent made their escape from Africa together. They crossed the Mediterranean safely in a small boat, landed near Marseilles, in June, 1607, then traveled up to Avignon. There the apostate confessed, and abjured Mohammedanism before the papal vice-legate. The following year, accompanied by Vincent, he went to Rome, where he entered the order of the Brothers of St. John of God,[2] who serve in hospitals.

Vincent now returned to France and chanced to be brought to the attention of Queen Marguerite of Valois, who appointed him her almoner. This office gave him the income from a small abbey. For a time he lodged in the same house as a lawyer, who was one day robbed of a considerable sum. He openly charged Vincent with the theft and spoke against him to all his friends. Vincent did nothing save quietly deny the charge, adding, "God knows the truth." For six years he bore the slander, making no further denial, and at last the real thief confessed. Speaking as though the victim had been someone else, Vincent once told this story at a conference with his priests, in order to show that patience, silence, and resignation are generally the best defense of innocence.

Vincent soon came to know a famous priest of Paris, Monsieur de Berulle, afterwards a cardinal. Father Berulle, who at that time was founding a branch of the Congregation of the Oratory in France, recognized Vincent's worth. He found for him a curacy at Clichy, in the outskirts of Paris, and later through his influence Vincent became tutor to the children of Philip de Gondi, Count of Joigny and general of the galleys of France. The countess, a serious-minded woman, was so impressed by Vincent that she eventually chose him as her spiritual director.

In 1617, while the family was at its country seat at Folleville, in the diocese of Amiens, Vincent was sent for to hear the confession of a peasant who lay dangerously ill. In the course of his questioning, Vincent learned that every one of the peasant's previous confessions had been sacrilegious. On his recovery the man declared, in the presence of the countess, that he would have been eternally lost if he had not spoken with Vincent. Unlike the majority of noble women of this period, who felt no responsibility for their dependents, this good lady was concerned about the spiritual welfare of her tenantry. She persuaded Vincent to preach in the parish church of Folleville and instruct the people. Such crowds came to confess that he called the Jesuits of Amiens to his aid. The Congregation of the Mission had its inception at this time.

Vincent left the household of the count that same year to become pastor of the parish of Chatillon-les-Dombes, which had long been neglected, its church virtually abandoned to the elements. By restoring the church, by instituting the habit of regular worship, he created a new spirit which helped to regenerate the whole district. He converted the notorious count of Rougemont and many other aristocrats from their dissolute lives. Seeing how effective Vincent's labors were, the countess now offered him a large sum of money to found a perpetual mission in whatever place and manner he thought fit. Nothing at first came of the idea, for Vincent seemed reluctant to undertake so important an enterprise. Meanwhile the countess secured her husband's help in organizing a company of zealous missionaries to work among their own vassals and the peasants of the countryside. They also discussed the plan for a perpetual mission with the count's brother, Jean Francois de Gondi, archbishop of Paris, who gave them the College des Bons Enfants as a reception house for the proposed new community.

The countess had obtained from Vincent a promise to continue as her spiritual director while she lived and to assist her at the end. She was in failing health and died in the summer of 1625, whereupon Vincent went to Paris to establish himself at the College des Bons Enfants. Now, at the age of forty-nine, he was free to assume the position of director. He drew up rules and constitutions for the house, and these were approved by Pope Urban VIII in 1632. In that year they were given the priory of St. Lazare, henceforth the chief house of the congregation. The Fathers of the Mission thus came to be called Lazarists, although they are more generally known as Vincentians. The Congregation consisted then, as it still does, of priests and laymen who, after a period of probation, take four simple vows, poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. They live from a common fund and devote themselves to sanctifying their own spirits and to converting sinners. They are employed in missions, especially to country people, teaching the Catechism, preaching, reconciling differences, and performing charitable deeds. Some of them conduct seminaries. Their institutions now flourish in all parts of the world. Vincent lived to see twenty-five more communities founded in France, northern Italy, Poland, and elsewhere.

Extensive and rewarding as this work was, it did not satisfy Vincent's passion for helping suffering people. He started con fraternities to seek out and care for the sick in every parish. From these groups, under the leadership of Louise de Marillac, sprang the Sisters of Charity,[3] "whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister the streets of the city and wards of the hospitals." Vincent persuaded a number of noble and wealthy Parisian women, who had hitherto never given a thought to the misery of others, to band together as Ladies of Charity, to collect funds and assist in many practical ways. He made plans for the founding of several hospitals to serve the needy sick, foundlings, and the aged. At Marseilles a home was opened for exhausted galley-slaves. It was the custom at this time in France to punish criminals by condemning them to service in the war galleys of the state. Under the lash and chained to their benches, they performed the cruelly hard labor of rowing these cumbersome vessels with their many-tiered banks of oars. After a few years the prisoners were broken and useless; now for the first time they had a hospital and various other forms of aid.

For men about to take Holy Orders, Vincent devised a set of spiritual exercises, and special exercises also for those desiring to make general Confession, or to settle on a vocation. He conferred frequently with the clergy on the correction of the shocking slackness, ignorance, and abuses that were all around them. To the Biblical injunction, "Thou art thy brother's keeper," he gave new practical meaning, by laying down patterns of philanthropy that have been followed ever since. To the worldly society of seventeenth-century Paris he presented a much-needed example of selfless charity.

The great political and religious conflict known as the Thirty Years War was now raging. Vincent, on hearing of the wretchedness of the people of Lorraine, collected alms for them in Paris. He sent missionaries to other countries affected by the war. Recalling his own sorrows as a slave in Tunisia, he raised enough money to ransom some twelve hundred Christian slaves in Africa. He had influence with the powerful Cardinals Richelieu and De Retz, directors of French foreign policy; and was sent for by King Louis XIII, to minister to him as he lay dying. The king's widow, Anne of Austria, now Queen Regent, had him made a member of the Council of Conscience of the five-year-old prince, the future Louis XIV. Vincent continued to be in favor at court, and during the civil war of the Fronde, tried to persuade the Queen Regent to give up her unpopular minister, Cardinal Mazarin, to help pacify and unify the people.

Thus, although he had no advantages of birth, fortune, or handsome appearance, or any showy gifts at all, Vincent de Paul's later years became one long record of accomplishment. In the midst of great affairs, his soul never strayed from God; always when he heard the clock strike, he made the sign of the cross as an act of divine love. Under setbacks, calumnies, and frustrations, and there were many, he preserved his serenity of mind. He looked on all events as manifestations of the Divine will, to which he was perfectly resigned. Yet by nature, he once wrote of himself, he was "of a bilious temperament and very subject to anger." Without divine grace, he declared, he would have been "in temper hard and repellent, rough and crabbed." With grace, he became tenderhearted to the point of looking on the troubles of all mankind as his own. His tranquillity seemed to lift him above petty disturbances. Self-denial, humility, and an earnest spirit of prayer were the means by which he attained to this degree of perfection. Once when two men of exceptional learning and ability asked to be admitted to his congregation, Vincent courteously refused them, saying: "Your abilities raise you above our low state. Your talents may be of good service in some other place. As for us, our highest ambition is to instruct the ignorant, to bring sinners to a spirit of penitence, and to plant the Gospel spirit of charity, humility, and simplicity in the hearts of all Christians." One of his rules was that, so far as possible, a man ought not to speak of himself or his own concerns, since such discourse usually proceeds from and strengthens pride and self-love.

Vincent was deeply concerned at the rise and spread of the Jansenist heresy.[4] He protested hotly against a view of God that seemed to limit His mercy, and no priest teaching that error could remain in his congregation. "I have made the doctrine of grace the subject of my prayer for three months," he said, "and every day God has confirmed my faith that our Lord died for us all and that He desires to save the whole world."

As the end of his long life drew near, Vincent endured much suffering. On September 27, 1660, he received the Last Sacraments, and died calmly in his chair, being then eighty-five years old. He was buried in the church of St. Lazare, Paris. In 1729 he was beatified by Benedict XIII, and canonized by Clement XII in 1737. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him patron of all charitable societies. His emblem is, most appropriately, children.

<Letter of St. Vincent de Paul to Pope Alexander VII>

June 6, 1659

Most Holy Father:

I know that the whole of France and many other nations are urgently beseeching Your Holiness to deign to inscribe on the calendar of Saints the name of the Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva. I am also aware that Your Holiness, filled with admiration for the rare virtues that shone in him, and the books of lofty devotion which he composed, holds his memory in profound veneration, and, consequently, that Your Holiness seems inclined to carry out this design, without there being any need of petitions from others and, especially, from such a wretched and unknown individual as myself. Nevertheless, Most Holy Father, as I was on rather familiar terms with this servant of God, who often deigned to hold converse with me, either about the Institute of the Religious of the Visitation of Holy Mary, which he established and founded, or on other pious matters, I have admired so many, and so great, virtues in him, that it is hard for me now to keep silence; I cannot be the only person who says nothing.

Faith, Hope, Charity, and the other cardinal and moral Christian virtues seemed almost innate in him and, taken together, formed in him, at least to my way of thinking, such a fund of goodness that, during an illness which occurred to me shortly after a conversation with him, I turned over in my mind his sweetness and exquisite meekness, and often repeated to myself: 'Oh! how good must God be, since the Bishop of Geneva is so kind.'

If I were alone, Most Holy Father, in thus thinking about him, I might believe I was deceiving myself but, as the whole world shares these sentiments, what else is needed, Most Holy Father, but a word from Your Holiness to consummate such a holy enterprise, by resolving to inscribe his name in the catalogue of the saints, and setting him up for the veneration of the whole world! All the priests of our Congregation and myself prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, now most humbly beg you to do so. May God Almighty deign to grant you many long years for the welfare of His Church!

Most Holy Father, etc., etc.

(<Letters of St. Vincent de Paul>. Burns, Oates, l937.)


1 Cordeliers was a name popularly given to the stricter branch of the Franciscan Order.

2 John of God was a Portuguese shepherd who turned soldier, and later devoted his life to the care of the sick. He became head of the Brothers of Charity, a lay society which was later raised to an order under Augustinian Rule.

3 Blessed Louise de Marillac was one of the first women to be drawn into the movement. The Congregation of Sisters of Charity was founded in 1634. They are active, unenclosed nuns who devote their lives to serving the needy and the ill. The habit resembles a French peasant dress-blue-gray gown with wide sleeves and apron, white linen cap and "wings." The order is worldwide and now numbers some thirty-seven thousand members.

4 Jansenism was a heresy propounded by Cornelius Jansen, bishop of Ypres. It denied the freedom of the will and the ability of man to contribute to his own salvation. God, it held, had predestined some to eternal life and others to be forever lost. Jansenism had won many believers in France at this time.

Saint Vincent de Paul, Founder of the Vincentians. Celebration of Feast Day is July 19. Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.

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TOPICS: Catholic; History
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More info on St Vincente from another source:

Vincent de Paul, Priest (RM)

September 27

While serving in the poverty-stricken Clichy district of Paris, St. Vincent said to Cardinal de Retz, "I think the pope himself is not so happy as a parish priest in the midst of such kind-hearted people." He spent his life in self-giving ministry with and to the poor. St. Vincent said that such ministry liberates the one who serves as much or more than it sustains, relieves, and liberates the served. He didn't begin his priesthood with this attitude but rather grew into it.

St. Vincent was ordained in 1600. In 1605 he was captured by pirates and taken to Tunis, sold as a slave, and remained there for two years. He convinced his second master, a former monk, to return to France for absolution.

In France, St. Vincent found a patron in the papal vice-legate, who took Vincent back to Rome with him. He was sent back to France in 1609 and became the almoner (person who gives out alms) to the former wife of King Henry IV--Marguerite de Valois--and dispensed alms on a grand scale.

After serving in various other privileged posts, in 1617 he began a new life while in Chatillon-des-Domes near Lyons, where he founded the Confraternity of Charity to encourage ladies to minister "as if she were dealing with her son, or rather with God, who refers to Himself whatever good is done to the poor." There primary role was nursing the sick. The Confraternity served as the seed for the Sisters of Charity (co-founded with Louise de Marillac with pontifical approval in 1668) and the Ladies of Charity. The book says that he gave women their first public role in the Church in 800 years.

For St. Vincent social commitment and the spiritual life were united. He founded seminaries to mold missionary priests for rural France. He integrated acts of corporal and spiritual mercy. He combined unselfish commitment to the poor with his connections to the rich and powerful.

St. Vincent said, "I will set out to serve the poor. I will try to do so in a gay and modest manner, so as to console and edify them; I will speak to them as though they were my lords and masters. . . . Even when one scolds me and finds fault with me, I will not omit the fulfillment of my duty but pay . . . the respect and the honor due."

From G. Markus. The Radical Tradition: Revolutionary Saints in the Battle for Justice and Human Rights. NY: Doubleday, 1993, pp. 116-125.

Northern Italy: Land of Saints and Popes / Katherine I. Rabenstein / Created August 1997 

1 posted on 09/27/2002 4:53:06 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; Salvation; nickcarraway; NYer; JMJ333; BlackElk
2 posted on 09/27/2002 4:59:46 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
Oh thanks LIB! I love this saint. I worked at a soup kitchen about 5 years ago that beared his name. I used to make desserts for them. They would always get excited when I came on Fridays because I would make something different every week! And they always were so appreciative of me. I really enjoyed helping them. I bet I went through every recipe in my betty crocker dessert book!
3 posted on 09/28/2002 8:00:47 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: Lady In Blue
And I love that graphic of him carrying the baby. Precious!
4 posted on 09/28/2002 8:04:29 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: JMJ333
You're welcome,JMJ333! Wasn't he wonderful?! What a life he had.He was actually a slave for 2 years.
5 posted on 09/28/2002 9:01:02 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: JMJ333
I love that one too.Our parish library used to have a video on his live.A very old film.I don't know what happened to it.I haven't seen it in a very long time.
6 posted on 09/28/2002 9:04:17 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: EODGUY; PA Lurker
Ping to a lovely thread. =)
7 posted on 09/28/2002 9:15:47 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: JMJ333
Truly a magnificent, though humble man. Suffering silently for 6 years after being falsely accused of theft......that takes true courage and character, as well as faith.
8 posted on 09/28/2002 9:31:25 PM PDT by EODGUY
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To: Lady In Blue
**Like his fellow saint, Francis de Sales, who was his friend and contemporary, Vincent de Paul performed an invaluable service to the Catholic Church in a period of confusion and laxness.**

Do we ever need someone like St. Vincent de Paul in this time of confusion and laxness!!!!!!!
9 posted on 09/27/2003 8:06:24 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
BTTT on 9-27-03!
10 posted on 09/27/2003 8:07:03 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Do we ever need someone like St. Vincent de Paul in this time of confusion and laxness!!!!!!!

St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis de Sales, there's a one-two punch!

To those who don't know, the St. Vincent de Paul Society was founded in 19th Century Paris by a Professor (layman) at the Sorbonne named Blessed Frederick Ozanam. He eventually took St. Vincent de Paul's name for the new organization as a patron saint for the work that they do helping the poor.

11 posted on 09/27/2003 11:43:37 AM PDT by TotusTuus
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To: TotusTuus

BTTT on 09-27-04, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul!

12 posted on 09/27/2004 5:28:33 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; goldenstategirl; ...
Saint of the Day Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Saint of the Day Ping List.

13 posted on 09/27/2004 6:45:19 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

A great saint.

14 posted on 09/27/2004 6:52:32 AM PDT by vrwcagent0498 (Be afraid, Hillary. Be very afraid. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)
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To: Lady In Blue

I'm going to brag a little. I come from the same blood line
as St. Vincent de Paul.

15 posted on 09/27/2004 7:45:48 AM PDT by Renatus (C)
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To: Renatus


16 posted on 09/27/2004 9:15:38 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, September 27, 2005!

17 posted on 09/27/2005 8:30:06 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, September 27, 2006!

18 posted on 09/27/2006 10:16:17 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
St. Vincent dePaul

St. Vincent de Paul
Feast Day: September 27, 2007

The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent's eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

     It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general.

     Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.
     Later Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, "whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city." He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.
     Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been "hard and repulsive, rough and cross." But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.
     Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies. Outstanding among these, of course, is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by his admirer Blessed Frederic Ozanam.


The Church is for all God's children, rich and poor, peasants and scholars, the sophisticated and the simple. But obviously the greatest concern of the Church must be for those who need the most help—those made helpless by sickness, poverty, ignorance or cruelty. Vincent de Paul is a particularly appropriate patron for all Christians today, when hunger has become starvation, and the high living of the rich stands in more and more glaring contrast to the physical and moral degradation in which many of God's children are forced to live.


"Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this [choice] without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires" (St. Vincent de Paul, Letters).

19 posted on 09/27/2007 9:23:36 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
Today's Saint

St. Vincent de Paul

September 27th, 2008 by Saints Editor 

Where Charity and Love Prevail, there is God

The name of the French priest St. Vincent de Paul (priest and founder) is today synonymous with charitable activities on behalf of the poor. Vincent was born c. 1580, the son of a peasant farmer, and was ordained at the relatively early age of twenty. For the next ten years, Fr. Vincent was content with an unchallenging, comfortable life in the bosom of the Church.

However, he came under the influence of the saintly priest Fr. de Berulle, and began to work among the poor. Their material and spiritual needs moved Vincent profoundly, and from then on he devoted himself to serving the forgotten members of society. Fr. Vincent arranged for groups of lay persons to minister to the poor, and in 1625 he founded the Congregation of the Mission (also known as the Vincentians), a group of priests who dedicated themselves to working with people in small towns and villages.

In 1633 Vincent, along with St. Louise de Marillac, founded a congregation of religious women known as the Daughters of Charity. Vincent’s generosity and goodness attracted many people, and he had little difficulty finding helpers for his ministry.

A gentle manner was not something that came easily to him, however; he had a severe temper, and stated that, without the grace of God, he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” St. Vincent de Paul died in Paris in 1660, and was canonized in 1737. Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable activities in the Church, particularly the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which was founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam.

20 posted on 09/27/2008 10:23:22 AM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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