Vincent de Paul, Saint

Vincent de Paul, Saint, 1580?–1660, French priest renowned for charitable work, b. Gascony. He was ordained in 1600. There are conflicting stories about his capture by pirates and enslavement in Tunis and his subsequent escape. 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. His activism, and the holiness of his life brought about the revival of French Catholicism. He inspired many of the court to an interest in the poor of Paris and was the founder of organized charity in France. In 1625 he founded an order of secular priests to work in rural areas; it became the Congregation of the Mission, called Lazarists or Vincentians. With these priests, St. Vincent conducted retreats, founded seminaries, and achieved widespread reform among the French clergy. For city work he founded the Sisters of Charity. St. Vincent's influence, through his spirit and through his institutions, is incalculable. He was canonized in 1737. Feast: Sept. 27.

See J. Leonard, ed., Letters of St. Vincent de Paul (1938); biographies by H. Daniel-Rops (1961) and M. Purcell (1963); P. Coste, The Life and Works of Saint Vincent de Paul (3 vol., tr. 1952).

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