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Saint Vincent de Paul
and the Vincentians
(1581 - 1660)


       Vincent de Paul was born in 1581. He came from a poor Catholic family of Pouy, a village in the southwest corner of France. Later in life when he became friend and counselor to royal and noble persons, he never concealed his humble origin. "When I was a boy, I tended cattle," he told them. "I am only a cowheard, the son of a poor farmer."

        In the study of theology, he recieved a very thorough traning at Toulouse in France and at Saragossa in Spain. The exactness of his knowledge appeared clearly when he wrote against the errors of Jansenism, a popular school of thought in his day.

        He was ordained in 1600. The great turning point, however, was a vow he made in 1611 to consecrate his whole life to the poor.

        Twice he was pastor of country parishes, in 1612 near Paris and in 1617 near the famous village of Ars. His country missions also began in 1617. Though these events, God's plan led him to begin the Congregation of the Mission in 1625. He gave this group of priests and brothers two purposes - to continue the country missions and to help in training diocesan clergy.

        It was in 1617, too, that Saint Vincent began to organize his many works of charity for the poor and the sick, the children and the aged. In 1633 Saint Louise de Marillac helped him establish the Daughters of Charity. During the rest of his life and ever since, they have been the most permanent, fruitful means of his charity. He died on September 27, 1660.

        Pope Leo XIII proclaimed Vincent de Paul the Patron of Charity. He has inspired many other charityable organizations, including the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

        Today in the United States, Saint Vinccent's Congregation of the Mission is known as the Vincentian Community. Its members preach parish missions, form priests, and train lay ministers. They run three universities, serve in numerous parishes, and work as chaplins. Vincentians go overseas as missionaries to Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

        During all his life Saint Vincent did everything he could to help those in need. He would accept any sacrifice, any trouble, any physical exertion, any expense. He helped all -slaves and prisoners, expose and abandonded children, the victems of war, the homeless, thetraveller, those with disabilities or handicaps, the sick, the poor of all kinds. People with resources heard his appeals for help and responded generously.

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