St Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul was born in Pouy, in south-west France, to a family of peasant farmers. He had four brothers and two sisters. He studied humanities in Dax, France and graduated in theology at Toulouse. He was ordained in 1600, remaining in Toulouse until he went to Marseille for an inheritance. In 1605, on his way back from Marseille, he was taken captive by Turkish pirates, who brought him to Tunis and sold him into slavery. After converting his owner to Christianity, 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 Queen Marguerite de Valois. For a while he was parish priest at Clichy, but from 1612 he began to serve the De Gondi’s, an illustrious family. He was confessor and spiritual director to Mme de Gondi, and he began giving peasant missions on the estate with her aid. In 1622 De Paul was appointed chaplain to the galleys, and in this capacity he gave missions for the galley-slaves. In 1625 De Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission, a society of missioning priests commonly known as the Vincentians. In 1633, with the assistance of Louise de Marillac he founded the Daughters of Charity. He was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity.

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