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St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul by Julie Lonneman

Artist Narrative:

At first, Vincent's decision to become a priest was motivated by a desire to escape poverty and advance socially. He was ordained at 19. However, as he got to know the villagers under his care, Vincent experienced a change of heart. He gathered together a band of priests to minister to the sick and poor. This was the beginning of the Congregation of the Mission, also known as the Vincentians or Lazarists. Within Vincent's lifetime the Congregation of the Mission had spread throughout the world.

"It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons."
—Saint Vincent de Paul

France, 1581-1660.

His feast day is September 27.

Art Collection: 
Lonneman collection: 
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Vincent was a peasant and a highly intelligent youth. He spent four years with Franciscan friars at Acqs getting an education. He was the tutor to children of a gentlemen of the town. He began divinity studies in 1596 at the University of Toulouse and became a priest at age 20. Vincent was taken captive by Turkish pirates to Tunis, and sold into slavery. He was freed in 1607 when he converted one of his owners to Christianity.

Vincent served as parish priest near Paris where he started organizations to help the poor, nurse the sick, find jobs for the unemployed, etc. He was the chaplain at the court of Henry IV of France. With Louise de Marillac, he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. He instituted the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (Lazarists). Vincent worked always for the poor, the enslaved, the abandoned, the ignored, the pariahs.

Born: 1581 near Ranquine, Gascony near Dax, southwest France; now known as Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Landes

Died: 1660 at Paris; body incorrupt

Canonized: 1737 by Pope Clement XII

Readings:

However great the work that God may achieve by an individual, he must not indulge in self-satisfaction. He ought rather to be all the more humbled, seeing himself merely as a tool which God has made use of.
—Saint Vincent de Paul

We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.
—Saint Vincent de Paul

The Church teaches us that mercy belongs to God. Let us implore Him to bestow on us the spirit of mercy and compassion, so that we are filled with it and may never lose it. Only consider how much we ourselves are in need of mercy.
—Saint Vincent de Paul