Vincent de Paul
de Paul was born in Pouy (now called St. Vincent de Paul),
Landes, France, in 1581, the third of six children in a peasant
early life was unremarkable. After ordination in 1600, he
had several pastoral and chaplain assignments. However,
in 1611, he had a four-year crisis in faith. From this agony
he emerged with a burning love of Christ and a determination
to devote his life to working for the poor.
concern for the poor had two main objectives. The first
was the care of the destitute, the sick, and the foundlings.
He succeeded in this by turning to the hitherto untapped
resource of devout women. In 1617, he founded the first Confraternity of Charity, an association of well-to-do
lay women who went to the homes of the poor to care for
the hungry and the sick. In the next six years, he devoted
himself to establishing these confraternities throughout
young girls who had been helping in this work formed the Daughters of Charity. St. Vincent composed their
constitution and became their superior general. His rule
required that, besides their daily devotions, they have
careful training in catechizing; in how to teach reading,
writing, cooking, sewing, weaving, lace-making, and other
skills that might raise the destitute from their misery;
and to prepare the foundlings for a productive life.
second objective of St. Vincent’s ministry was the
improvement of the quality of the priesthood. In 1625, he
founded the Congregation of the Missions (now known
as the Vincentians) for the purpose of preaching
missions to poor country people. In 1626, he initiated ten-day
retreats to prepare young men about to be ordained. Then,
in 1633, he organized Tuesday Conferences for young priests
to gather together and discuss their apostolate. These retreats
became the inspiration and bases for the seminaries, which
Vincent began to establish in 1642, and which he continued
to develop for the rest of his life.
suffering souls also claimed his concern. He was chaplain-general
of the galley slaves and tried to alleviate their corporal
and spiritual woes. He also sent priests to serve as chaplains
to the French army and organized relief for the war-devastated
province of Lorraine.
Vincent was blessed in his friendships. St. Francis de Sales
was his friend as was St. Jane Frances de Chantal. Especially
important was his spiritual and temporal collaboration with St.
Louise de Marillac whose vision and energy established
the Daughters of Charity as devoted and competent servants
of the poor.
Vincent de Paul died in 1660. He was canonized in 1737.
In 1885, he was named patron of all works of charity.
to St. Vincent
God, who, for the salvation of the poor and the instruction
of the clergy, didst raise up a new family in our Church
through Saint Vincent, grant, we beseech Thee, that animated
by the same spirit, we may love what he loved and practice
what he taught, Through Christ Our Lord. AMEN
from: Tyrrell, William G. A Century of Spiritual Service:
Church of St. Vincent de Paul. Albany: Church of St.
Vincent de Paul, 1985.