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Saint Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul

Biography of Saint Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul was born on 24 April 1581 in Pouy in the Landes. His parents, farmers, were fervent Catholics. His father had the ambition of an ecclesiastical career for him, so he sends him to the college in Dax, where he was a brilliant student. Vincent became a tutor to a lawyer who advised him to turn to the priesthood. He left in 1598 to study theology in Toulouse and was ordained a priest two years later. The young Vincent went to Rome, then in 1608 to Paris, where he took courses in canon law at the Sorbonne. At the same time, the young priest visited the sick at the Hôpital de la Charité.

Appointed to the Queen's College of Chaplains, Vincent experienced a sudden rise in society. However, he was struck by a trial: doubt took hold of him. Overwhelmed, he vowed to dedicate his life to the poor and the sick if he is delivered from the temptation of despair. When he did, he immediately began to fulfill his promise by making a donation to the hospital. From then on, his growing spiritual aspirations prevailed over his desire for material success. In 1612, Vincent was appointed parish priest of Clichy, in this village he rediscovered his priesthood, his piety and his exemplary life edifying the parishioners.

In 1613, Vincent was appointed tutor in Paris to an illustrious family: the Gondi. While he got what he had long sought, a place in a large family, he was again shaken in his aspirations. One day, when he was standing at the bedside of a poor sick man, he exclaimed after confessing: Without this confession, I was damned!” This upsets Vincent, who urged the parishioners to general confession. He thus took his first step in the missionary role of a priest.

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A second event would deeply mark Vincent, he learns that all members of a family that had fallen into hardship were sick. Once again, he spoke strong words at the pulpit that wouldl encourage parishioners to act on behalf of the unfortunate. Vincent brought together the most determined and founded the first Brotherhood of Charity in 1617. From then on, Vincent no longer wanted to be a tutor but a chaplain. He was also involved in helping the Galerians and held the office of Chaplain General of the Galerians.

Vincent met two decisive individuals: Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jeanne de Chantal, founders of the Order of Visitation. Together they formed a plan for a society of priests, founded in 1625 under the name of Congregation of the Mission. In 1631 Vincent launched a “retreat for Ordinands” in Paris, which met with great success. The following year he organized the “Tuesday Conferences” for young priests. Together with Louise de Marillac, he founded the Compagnie des Filles de la Charité in 1633. Vincent and Louise also founded the Work of Founded Children in 1638.

At the end of his life, all his works flourished: the Brothers of Charity multiplied, a hospital was opened in Marseille for the Galerians. The Daughters of Charity ran free schools and took care of the elderly in hospices. His three foundations spread outside France. Vincent de Paul died on September 27, 1660.

Works of Saint Vincent de Paul

The Congregation of the Mission

Founded in 1625 by Saint Vincent de Paul, the Congregation of the Mission has, since the time of its founder and through its inspiration, aimed to evangelize the poor. The congregation currently has more than 3,000 members in 95 countries. The priests of the Mission are also called “Lazarists”, for having their origin in the Priory of Saint Lazarus in Paris. They are also called “vincentians” in English-speaking countries, “paules” in Spain, and “cincentinos” in Latin America.

The Daughters of Charity

This women's congregation was founded in 1633 by Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac. It brings together women who are given to God but who are not cloistered, dedicated to serving the poor, the elderly, the sick, and schools and orphanages. In 1830 Saint Catherine Labouré joined the congregation. The Daughters of Charity are also called the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Fame of Saint Vincent de Paul

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVDP), sometimes also called the Saint Vincent de Paul Association, was founded by Frédéric Ozanam and a small group of students in 1833. It is a charitable network serving the needy and lonely. It grew rapidly already during the lifetime of its founder, and is now present in 150 countries. Volunteers act as fraternal teams, called “Conferences” that work independently. Today there are 800,000 volunteers spread over 5 continents, the Saint Vincent de Paul conferences help 30 million people a day around the world.

The Monks of Saint Vincent de Paul

In 1845, with the blessing of the bishop, three laymen founded the institute, initially called “Brothers of Saint Vincent de Paul”. The founder, Jean-Léon Le Prevost, describes the spirituality of Saint Vincent's monks: “the first work and the essential business for us is to love God. This charity for God must inspire our whole lives as consecrated men and apostles. “ The brothers take apostolic action with the poor, families, and parishes.