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Statuary St. Vincent de Paul

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St. Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul (1581 – 1660) was a priest of the Catholic Church who dedicated himself to serving the poor. He was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity and is known as the "Great Apostle of Charity". He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Pope Leo XIII gave him as patron to the Sisters of Charity. He is also patron to the Brothers of Charity.

Biography

St. Vincent was born in 1581 in Pouy, in the Province of Guyenne and Gascony, the Kingdom of France, to a family of peasant farmers. He had four brothers and two sisters. At an early age, he showed a talent for reading and writing. At 15, his father sent him to school, managing to pay for it by selling the family's oxen. A good ecclesiastical career, his father believed, would enable De Paul to be financially independent and to help support his family.

He studied humanities in Dax, France, with the Cordeliers and he graduated in theology at Toulouse. He was ordained in 1600 at the age of nineteen, remaining in Toulouse until he went to Marseille for an inheritance. In 1605, on his way back from Marseille, he was taken captive by Barbary pirates, who brought him to Tunis. De Paul was auctioned off as a slave to the highest bidder, and spent two years in bondage. Ultimately, the story goes, he became the property of an apostate Christian, whose wife aided in the escape of all his slaves.

Vincent de Paul escaped in 1607. After returning to France, de Paul went to Rome. There he continued his studies until 1609, when he was sent back to France on a mission to Henry IV of France; he served as chaplain to Marguerite de Valois.

For a while he was parish priest at Clichy, but from 1612 he began to serve the Gondi, an illustrious family. He was confessor and spiritual director to Madame de Gondi. It was the Countess de Gondi who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general.

Vincentians

In 1617, De Paul founded the "Ladies of Charity" from a group of women within his parish. He organized these wealthy women of Paris to collect funds for missionary projects, found hospitals, and gather relief funds for the victims of war and to ransom 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul.

In 1622 de Paul was appointed chaplain to the galleys. After working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the "Vincentians". These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Vincent de Paul died at Paris, 27 September, 1660.

Veneration

In 1705, the Superior-General of the Lazarists requested that the holy process of de Paul's canonization be instituted. On 13 August 1729, Vincent was declared blessed by Pope Benedict XIII. He was canonized nearly eight years later by Pope Clement XII on 16 June 1737. In 1885, Pope Leo XIII gave him as patron to the Sisters of Charity. He is also patron to the Brothers of Charity.

St. Vincent's body was exhumed in 1712, 53 years after his death. The written account of an eye witness states that "...(t)he eyes and nose alone showed some decay." However, when the body was exhumed again during the canonization in 1737 it was then discovered to have decomposed due to an underground flood. His bones have been encased in a waxen figure which is displayed in a glass reliquary in the chapel of the headquarters of the Vincentian fathers in Paris. His heart is still incorrupt, and is displayed in a reliquary in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris.

In 1737, his feast day was included in the Roman Calendar on 19 July, because his day of death was already used for the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian. It was originally to be celebrated with the rank of "Double", which was changed to the equivalent rank of "Third-Class Feast" in 1960.

St. Vincent is honored with a feast day in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church (USA) on September 27.

One of the feasts celebrated by the French Deist Church of the Theophilanthropy was dedicated to Vincent de Paul.

Pope Paul VI transferred the celebration of his memorial to September 27, Cosmas and Damian having been moved to September 26 to make way for him, as he is now better known in the West.

Legacy

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a charitable organisation dedicated to the service of the poor, was established by French university students in 1833, led by the Blessed Frederic Ozanam. The Society is today present in 132 countries.

DePaul University takes its name from Vincent de Paul.

St. John's University is a private, coeducational Roman Catholic university founded in 1870 by the Vincentians. The main campus if in Queens, NY with five other locations (Staten Island, Manhattan, Oakdale, N.Y.; Rome, Italy; Paris, France).

De Paul School at Kethepally was established in the year 2001 that the Bishop of Nalgonda Rt. Rev. Govindu Joji invited the Vincentian fathers to his diocese.

The text in this box was generated from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the CC-BY-SA.

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