Vincent de Paul
Feast Day: September 27
Canonized: June 16, 1737
Beatified: August 13, 1729
Born in 1581 in France, Vincent de Paul became a priest at the early age of 19. He became famous for his kindness and generosity.
As a young priest, Vincent was captured by Turkish pirates at sea and sold into slavery. He eventually escaped, along with his master, whom he had converted. He came into close contact with the king and queen of France in both spiritual and diplomatic roles, but eventually, his concern for the poor of France became his full-time work.
Vincent went to many places to visit the sick, the elderly and the poor. He spent time with them and did what he could to take care of them. But, Vincent knew it would take more than what he could do on his own to really make a difference. He realized he needed more money and more people to help all those who needed help.
Vincent began to ask wealthy people to donate money that he distributed to the sick and poor of his community. Vincent was so nice and charming that the wealthy didn’t mind giving him money—especially for such a worthy cause.
Once, Vincent asked Queen Anne of Austria for a donation. Anne knew of Vincent and respected him, but she didn’t agree with many things he said. Vincent told Queen Anne that they should overlook their differences because helping people was more important.
Vincent also gathered other men and women who were willing to dedicate their lives to God and help the poor. Each day he and his followers gave soup and bread to as many as 16,000 poor persons. The men formed into the religious community of priests called the Vincentians. The women became the Daughters of Charity. Many parishes today have a St. Vincent de Paul Society which carries on Vincent’s work with the poor.
Because of all of his work raising money and helping the poor, Vincent is now considered the patron saint of charitable societies. He died in Paris in 1660 and was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.
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