Saint Vincent de Paul
Patron of: Charitable Societies
Feast Day: September 27
Born: c.1580, in the village of Pouy, in southwest France
Died: 1660, after a period of decline and disability
Vincent was the third of six children born to peasant farmers. He was ordained at a young age and at first enjoyed the privileges and comforts of priestly life, ministering among the wealthy as a tutor and personal chaplain. But his conscience was pricked when he encountered the poverty and despair of the uneducated peasants who served these families and their grand estates. His charitable work began simply enough: he collected food and clothing from his wealthy friends and distributed them among the poor.
Vincent soon realized that he could help more families by directly involving the wealthy in his new ministry. He organized societies of lay men and women to fund and assist in charitable works. In 1625 he founded a religious congregation of priests, the Congregation of the Mission, commonly known as the Vincentians.
"It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer....Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity."