Vincent de Paul
|Saint Vincent de Paul, C.M.|
|Confessor, Priest and Founder|
24 April 1581|
Pouy, Guyenne and Gascony,
Kingdom of France
|Died||27 September 1660
Paris, Kingdom of France
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion|
|Beatified||13 August 1729, Rome by Pope Benedict XIII|
|Canonized||16 June 1737, Rome by Pope Clement XII|
|Major shrine||St Vincent de Paul chapel, Rue de Sèvres, Paris, France|
19 July (Roman Calendar, 1737-1969)
|Patronage||charities; horses; hospitals; leprosy; lost articles; Madagascar; prisoners; Richmond, Virginia; spiritual help; Saint Vincent de Paul Societies; Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory; Vincentian Service Corps; volunteers|
Vincent de Paul (24 April 1581 – 27 September 1660) was a priest of the Catholic Church who dedicated himself to serving the poor. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He was canonized in 1737. De Paul was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity and is known as the "Great Apostle of Charity".
St. Vincent was born in 1581 in Gascony, in the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, the Kingdom of France, to a family of peasant farmers. He had four brothers and two sisters. At an early age, he showed a talent for reading and writing. At 15, his father sent him to school, managing to pay for it by selling the family’s oxen. A good ecclesiastical career, his father believed, would enable De Paul to be financially independent and to help support his family.
He studied humanities in Dax, France, with the Cordeliers and he graduated in theology at Toulouse. He was ordained in 1600 at the age of nineteen, remaining in Toulouse until he went to Marseille for an inheritance. In 1605, on his way back from Marseille, he was taken captive by Barbary pirates, who brought him to Tunis. De Paul was auctioned off as a slave to the highest bidder, and spent two years in bondage. Ultimately, the story goes, he became the property of an apostate Christian, whose wife aided in the escape of all his slaves.
Vincent de Paul escaped in 1607. After returning to France, de Paul went to Rome. There he continued his studies until 1609, when he was sent back to France on a mission to Henry IV of France; he served as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois. For a while he was parish priest at Clichy, but from 1612 he began to serve the Gondi, an illustrious family. He was confessor and spiritual director to Madame de Gondi. It was the Countess de Gondi who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general.
In 1617, De Paul founded the "Daughters of Charity" (Les Filles de la Charité) 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 and to ransom 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.
In 1622 de Paul was appointed chaplain to the galleys. 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. 
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.
Vincent de Paul died at Paris, 27 September, 1660.
In 1705, the Superior-General of the Lazarists requested that the holy process of de Paul's canonization be instituted. On 13 August 1729, Vincent was declared blessed by Pope Benedict XIII. He was canonized nearly eight years later by Pope Clement XII on 16 June 1737. In 1885, Pope Leo XIII gave him as patron to the Sisters of Charity. He is also patron to the Brothers of Charity.
St. Vincent's body was exhumed in 1712, 53 years after his death. The written account of an eye witness states,"the eyes and nose alone showed some decay." However, when the body was exhumed again during the canonization in 1737 it was then discovered to have decomposed due to an underground flood. His bones have been encased in a waxen figure which is displayed in a glass reliquary in the chapel of the headquarters of the Vincentian fathers in Paris. His heart is still incorrupt, and is displayed in a reliquary in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris.
In 1737, his feast day was included in the Roman Calendar on 19 July, because his day of death was already used for the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian. It was originally to be celebrated with the rank of "Double", which was changed to the equivalent rank of "Third-Class Feast" in 1960.
One of the feasts celebrated by the French Deist Church of the Theophilanthropy was dedicated to Vincent de Paul.
St. Vincent de Paul is the patron of all works of charity. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a charitable organisation dedicated to the service of the poor, was established by French university students in 1833, led by the Blessed Frederic Ozanam. The Society is today present in 132 countries.
In popular culture
- Attwater, Donald, The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, Aylesbury, 1982 p 337.
- Michael Walsh, ed. "Butler's Lives of the Saints" (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991) p 304.
- "St. Vincent de Paul", Seton Healthcare
- Dégert, Antoine. "St. Vincent de Paul." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 9 Jan. 2013
- Foley OFM, Leonard, "St. Vincent de Paul", Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey OFM), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
- The Incorruptibles, Joan Carroll Cruz, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1977, pp. 248–9.
- General Roman Calendar of 1962
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 140
- Herbert Hewitt Stroup, 1985 Social welfare pioneers Roman and Littlefield ISBN 0-88229-212-9 page 185
- History, DePaul University
- St. John's University homepage
- St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Lincoln Park, Chicago
- St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, Omaha, Nebraska
- Parish of St. Vincent de Paul, Mays Landing, New Jersey
- St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Mt. Vernon, Ohio
- St. Vincent de Paul, Houston, Texas
- St. Vincent de Paul, Wheeling, West Virginia
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