St. Vincent de Paul
Feast Day: September 27
Born: 1581 :: Died: 1660
Vincent, was born in a town in Southwest France and was the son of poor French peasants. Today the town is called Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Landes, France.
When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school to study under the Franciscan friars at Acqs. And after finishing his studies from the University of Toulouse, Vincent became a priest at the age of 20.
At first, he was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. But while he was traveling by sea from one city to another, he fell into the hands of Turkish pirates who sold him as a slave in Tunis.
Two years later after he was finally set free by one of his owners, who he converted to Christianity, he returned to France where he served as a parish priest.
Then one day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones.
Suddenly Father Vincent realized how badly the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work especially among the poor.
The charities of St. Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much.
He took care of criminals who worked on the sailing ships
He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity
He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and old people
He collected large sums of money for poor areas
He sent missionaries to many countries
and bought back prisoners from the Mohammedans
Even though he was such a charitable man, however, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said "were it not for God's grace."
"It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbor. I belong to God and to the poor." Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660.
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