Today, Catholics celebrate St. Vincent de Paul, who is the patron of mercy cause worldwide.
Vincent was born in 1581 in the village of Pouy in Gascony, in the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, the Kingdom of France, to peasant farmers, father Jean and mother Bertrande de Moras de Paul. At an early age, he showed a talent for reading and writing but during his childhood, his work was as a herder of his family’s livestock. At 15, his father sent him to seminary, managing to pay for it by selling the family’s oxen.
For two years, Vincent received his education at a college in Dax, France adjoining a monastery of the Friars Minor where he and others resided. In 1597, he began his studies in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Toulouse. The atmosphere at the university was anything but pious or conducive to spiritual contemplation. Fights broke out between various factions of students which escalated into many armed battles. During the course of the unrest, an official was murdered by two students. Nevertheless, he continued his studies and was finally able to help pay for his education by tutoring others. He was ordained on 23 September 1600 at the age of nineteen in Château-l’Évêque, near Périgueux. This was against the regulations established by the Council of Trent which required a minimum of 24 years of age for ordination, so when he was appointed parish priest in Tilh, the appointment was appealed against in the Court of Rome. Rather than respond to a lawsuit in which he would probably not have prevailed, he resigned from the position and continued his studies. On 12 October 1604 he received his Bachelor of Theology from the University of Toulouse. Later he received a Licentiate in Canon Law from the University of Paris.[2
“On a Sunday, while dressing for Mass, they came to tell me that, in a house isolated from the other quarters, a quarter of legges there, they all fell ill and were in a state of great necessity. I felt a great deal of pain, and in the sermon, I did not escape the opportunity to recommend it with affection … After the light, we took a good man, a citizen from the city, and we started together on the way. By the way, we met women passing by, others coming in the opposite direction … It was a kind of procession … “ Vincent then made this remark: “Today, these poor people will have more than necessary; in a few days, they will be in need again! What do I have to do? “” I proposed them, the saint continues, to all those persons inspired by charity, to put something apart each day so that they can live from one day to another and those who may have problems later.” His call was immediately received, and so appeared the first group of people willing to serve the needy, and in 1617 the first organization “Caritas” appeared. In three months, the institution had its own definitive regulation approved by the bishop, but above all, it had its own fruits. 1633-1660: develops activities, creates seminaries, orphanages, hospitals, sends missionaries, sisters and lay people to several countries, engages in political life to achieve peace, is a member of the King’s Conscience Council, helps regions devastated by war.
His activity was characterized by: “to a hungry man to give him food, then to give him a working tool, then nothing … so aid will only be for those who can not work” and “To a poor man go like as to a house in flames.”
Vincentius completed his earthly journey on the morning of September 27, 1660.