Most people have heard of St. Vincent de Paul but not too many know very much about him or his life.
Vincent was born in the late sixteenth century into a French farm family of very limited means. He was a very bright student and although he did not have very much, he furthered his own education by tutoring students. Vincent became a priest at the age of twenty-four and then earned his doctorate of theology at the age of twenty-eight.
In 1605, Vincent was traveling home to France by boat from a trip and was captured by pirates. He survived the initial attack and was taken to Tunis in North Africa to be sold into slavery. Vincent was sold a total of three times and during this time his faith remained strong. He continuously prayed to God to help him persevere and he even vowed that if his life was spared, he would devote the rest of it to the poor. One of the slave-owner’s wives was touched by Vincent’s strong faith and allowed him to return to France and asked that her husband also return to France and repent for his wrongdoings.
Vincent never forgot his days as a slave and raised money to ransom more than one thousand slaves from Africa.
St. Vincent made a significant difference in the lives of the poor and suffering throughout his life.
He died on September 27th, 1660 and was made a saint in 1737. It was not until more than 150 years after the death of St. Vincent that the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was founded by Frederic Ozanam to continue to honour his life and legacy.
It is not sufficient for me to love God if I do not love my neighbour.
I belong to God and to the poor.St. Vincent de Paul