St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) Feast Day: September 27 Canonized: 1737
Sometimes your parish may collect clothing and household items for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which gives these things to people in need. Looking back 400 years at Vincent’s story, we can see why he still inspires people to follow the message of Jesus to go out of their way to help those who have little.
Vincent (1580–1660) was born into a farming family in France. He did well at school and became a priest. During a voyage off the south coast of France, he was captured by pirates and taken to Tunisia, in North Africa. After being sold as a slave, he lived in terrible conditions. This time made him deeply aware of how some people must live. His owner was gradually won over by Vincent’s Christian words and deeds and became a Christian himself. Vincent was set free and continued his work as a priest in France.
Vincent had experienced poverty on the farm, in the slave galleys and on the streets of Paris. He had also listened carefully to the message of Jesus in the Gospels. He realized that in serving the poor and the outcast, we live a life worthy of the name “Christian.” Vincent formed a group of priests called the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. They not only prayed with the poor, they also cared for the sick, helped people with mental illness who were locked up in asylums, and created homes for orphans. Vincent also had a special place in his heart for those imprisoned by slavery.
Vincent was very organized: he created communities of men and women who would serve God and neighbour with great devotion. He was a skilled preacher who could stir hearts with Jesus’ message of love. He also had a practical side. Through his friendships with the French nobility, he was able to pay for many of his projects through their gifts of money.
-Source: Holy People, Holy Places, Les Miller Novalis 2013
Franciscan Media: Saint of the Day – St. Vincent de Paul