The Institute for Christian Formation
Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest
Feast Day (Memorial): September 27
St. Vincent de Paul
Simon François de Tours (1606-1671)
Have you ever bought food for a canned food drive or donated clothing to a clothing drive? Helping others in this way is charity. Charity is a Christian virtue. We are called to love God, and to love others as we love ourselves. Saint Vincent de Paul is the Patron Saint of charities.
Vincent was born in France around the year 1580. He was one of six children born to his parents, who were peasant farmers. Vincent was intelligent, and his parents sacrificed much to see that he received a good education. He eventually studied to be a priest, and was ordained at age twenty.
Originally Vincent had great ambitions to be successful and lead an easy life, but he soon
recognized the great difference between the rich and the ordinary, poor people in France. His heart was opened to help others. He saw the need for spiritual care for not only the wealthy and the townspeople, but also for the peasants and the villagers. Vincent became the pastor of a small country parish. He began to organize his parishioners to help provide for the needs of the poor.
Eventually, Vincent de Paul founded an order of priests, the Congregation of the Missions, to work with peasants in villages. Called the Vincentians, today there are almost 4,000 members of this religious order. Vincent also assisted Saint Louise de Marillac in founding the Daughters of Charity, an order of women religious who served the poor in the world, rather than living a cloistered life.
Saint Vincent of Paule
Jean-Leon Gerome, 1847
Vincent de Paul constantly reminded the rich that they needed to share their resources with those less fortunate. During his life he founded homes for orphans, and those who were handicapped, and the elderly. He also helped free galley slaves from North Africa, and assisted prisoners.
Vincent de Paul died in Paris, France on September 27, 1660. He was canonized a Saint of the Church in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. We celebrate the Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul each year on the anniversary of his death, September 27.
Saint Vincent de Paul is the Patron Saint of charities, hospitals, prisoners,
volunteers, Madagascar, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, and the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia.
In 1833, Blessed Frederic Ozanam, who was a great admirer of the life and work of Saint Vincent de Paul, founded the charitable organization, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Today there are Saint Vincent de Paul chapters all over the world, which exist to serve those in need of material assistance. Does your parish have a St. Vincent de Paul conference?
To help us remember the good work of Saint Vincent de Paul, and that we are all to treat our neighbors as ourselves, we continue to do good deeds and pray for our brothers and sisters who need our assistance. In this manner we always practice the Christian virtue of charity, and live as Jesus wants us to live. We know that whenever we do good for someone else, we are doing good for Jesus.
The video below, “St. Vincent de Paul, A Person of the 17th Century, a Person for the 21st Century,” is by Mission and Values at DePaul University, and provides an overview of Saint Vincent de Paul’s life, legacy, and spirituality for Three Vincentian Universities.
To celebrate the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, parishes and schools could organize an outreach drive benefiting the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Donations could be blessed in a prayer service on St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day.
Saint Vincent de Paul Resources and Links
- Four panels of mosaics in the Foyer of Mary Immaculate Center, Northampton, Pennsylvania with scenes from the life of Saint Vincent de Paul. Capability of zooming in to see details to learn more about this saint and his ministry.
- St. Vincent de Paul Novena: Nine days of quotes from, and prayers to, St. Vincent de Paul. Can be used for meditation by groups or individuals seeking to grow in Vincentian Spirituality. Courtesy of Daughters of Charity of Australia.
- Litany of Saint Vincent de Paul
Click on the image above to download our ICF handout on Saint Vincent de Paul.
Click on the image above to download our ICF fill-in-the-blank activity on Saint Vincent de Paul.