Saint Vincent de Paul

1581 - 1660

Memorial: September 27

Also known as: Vincentius à Paulo

Saint Vincent de Paul was born April 24, 1581 of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. He made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa, were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology.

In 1600 he received his education by the Franciscans at Dax September 23 and at the age of 19 he was a priest. 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 Rome he came to the attention of Pope Paul V, who sent him on a mission to the French court of Henry IV, where Vincent remained as chaplain to the queen. He inspired many of the court to an interest in the poor of Paris

In 1617, in the middle of winter, God gave him a sign while at the bedside of a sick peasant. The deathbed confession of this dying servant opened Vincent's eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. On the 8th December 1617, Saint Vincent began to organize his many works of charity for the poor and the sick, the children and the aged. In 1633 Saint Louise de Marillac helped him establish the Daughters of Charity.

By 1625 he had influenced a number of young men, some of them priests, to join him in forming a religious group to be called the Congregation of the Mission often known as “The Vincentians". Vincent and his friends worked with the poor people of the countryside near Paris, teaching them about Jesus Christ and the Good News of the Gospel and helping them obtain food and clothing. In 1633 the Archbishop or Paris gave him the Priory of St Lazare as a headquarters.

Saint Vincent died at Paris, 27 September, 1660. He was beatified 21 August 21, 1729 by Pope Benedict XIII and canonized 16 June 1737 by Pope Clement XII. 

"I was hungry and you gave me food; thirsty and you gave me drink; a stranger and you welcomed me; naked and you clothed me; sick and you cared for me; in prison and you visited me." (Matt 25: 35-36)

Prayer to Saint Vincent de Paul

Almighty God, who called your servant Vincent de Paul to serve you in the person of those in need: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 

Patron Saint of: charities, volunteers