St Vincent de Paul

Job 3.1-3,11-17,20-23; Psalm 87; Luke 9.51-56

St Vincent (1581-1660) was born the third child of a peasant family in the village of Pouy in southwest France. At the age of 15 his father sent him to a seminary, raising the fees by selling his oxen. In 1597 Vincent entered the Faculty of Theology of the University of Toulouse. He managed to pay for his studies by tutoring. He was ordained on 23 September 1600 at the age of 19, against the decrees of the Council of Trent which stipulated a minimum age of 24. He was appointed parish priest of Tilh, but a lawsuit was filed to prevent the appointment because of his young age. Rather than fight the matter in court, he resigned and continued his studies, receiving the Bachelor of Theology degree from Toulouse in 1604; later he received a Licentiate in Canon Law from the University of Paris.

Vincent’s motivation in entering the priesthood had been to better his financial condition, but on hearing the confession of a dying peasant he underwent a dramatic change of heart and devoted himself to ministry to the poor. He founded the Sisters of Charity and he was appointed Chaplain among imprisoned galley slaves in Paris. This led him to found the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians, known in France as the Lazaristes), a congregation of priests dedicated to ministry to the poor in smaller towns and villages. He became known as a conductor of retreats, inspiring the clergy to deeper devotion and to higher standards of moral life. He pioneered training of the clergy and established many seminaries. He died in Paris on 27th September 1660.

Posted in Daily Reflection.