‘Before we can save the sould of the poor, we must give them a life worthy of the name.’ – St. Vincent de Paul
St. Vincent de Paul was born in France in 1580 and was ordained in 1600.
While sailing from Marseilles, he was captured by Turkish pirates and taken to Tunisia where he was sold as a slave. He escaped after two years, and returned to France where he worked as a teacher to a wealthy family.
The young priest began ministering to convicts in the French jails, bringing them food and health care. He eventually established a hospital and a hospice for the elderly. The French king appointed him royal almoner.
As his work among the poor imprisoned grew, Vincent was encouraged by other to start a religious institute of priests to work with the poor in rural areas. This became the Congregation of the Mission (the Vincentians). With St. Louise de Marillac, he established the Daughters of Charity and Ladies of Charity to go out into the community and serve the poor.
Vincent’s ministry extended beyond France’s borders. He and his missionaries worked among the slaves along western Africa’s Barbary Coast (modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), ransoming up to 1,200 gallery slaves.
Vincent de Paul died in 1660. His feast is celebrated on September 27.
St. Vincent de Paul was named patron of all charitable institutions by Pope Leo XIII, who was born on this day in 1810.