Friday, September 27, 2013

Saint Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul (1581- 1660)

St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, in 1581. He attended school under the Franciscan Fathers and he impressed so many people that a gentleman chose him as guardian to his children, and he was thus able to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became chaplain to the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, a Count and General of the galleys of France. It was the Countess de Gondy who persuaded her husband to support a group of able and zealous missionaries under the leadership of St Vincent, who would work among poor tenant farmers.

St Vincent with St Louise de Marillac
In 1617, De Paul founded the "Ladies of Charity” from a group of women within his parish. He organized these wealthy women of Paris to collect funds for missionary projects, found hospitals, and gather relief funds for the victims of war. In this he had the help of St. Louise De Marillac, and they eventually became known as the Daughters of Charity. After working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, St Vincent returned to be the leader of what is now known as 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. At the same time, he began to preach missions.
It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of St Vincent, but charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, died at Paris, September 27, 1660 at the age of eighty. He was canonized in 1737 and he is the patron of charitable societies.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul, a charitable organization dedicated to the service of the poor, was established by French university students in 1833, led by the Blessed Fredric Ozanam. The Society is today present in 132 countries. De Paul University in Chicago takes its name from Vincent de Paul and St. John's University in Queens, New York was founded in 1870 by the Vincentians, as was Niagara University in 1856.

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