St Vincent de Paul was a French Catholic priest who dedicated himself to serving the poor. Blessed Frédéric Ozanam founded the St Vincent de Paul Society in his honor.
Who Was St Vincent de Paul?
Vincent de Paul was born on April 24th, 1581, to a poor family in Pouy, a small French village. (In the 1800s, that village was renamed Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in his honor.)
He was educated by the Franciscans and excelled, so much so that he was chosen to tutor the children of a wealthy family.
Being a tutor enabled him to attend the University of Toulose and study theology.
He felt called to the priesthood and was ordained in 1600, but five years later while on a ship, he was captured and taken to Tunis to be sold into slavery. He was a slave for two years before he was able to escape and return to France.
St Vincent then spent time in Avignon and Rome, where he deepened his studies. He was a pastor and also in charge of distributing alms to the needy.
Moved by the plight of the poor, and having suffered himself from poverty and slavery, Vincent now devoted his priesthood to their service.
He preached missions, built hospitals, visited the imprisoned, and also founded the Daughters of Charity with St Louise de Marillac.
He formed an institute of priests which is now known as the Vincentians.
The state of the priesthood in France was terrible at this time, so Vincent helped form priests, a forerunner of what we call seminaries today. He was a spiritual director and reformed the French Church.
His heroic work earned him the titles Apostle of Charity and Father of the Poor.
St Vincent de Paul died on September 27th, 1660. He was 80 years old.
His heart is still incorrupt and can be found in France at the Convent of the Sisters of Charity.
He was beatified on August 13th, 1729, by Pope Benedict XIII. He was canonized on June 16th, 1737, by Pope Clement XII.
He is the patron saint of charities, horses, hospitals, leprosy, lost articles, prisoners, spiritual help, Saint Vincent de Paul Societies, and volunteers.