St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the Village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as a tutor for his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained a priest in 1600.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseille to Narbonne, the Saint fell into hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. After two years, he escaped and made a brief visit to Rome.
Returning to France, Vincent became tutor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Joigny, and general of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625 he laid the foundation of a congregation that afterward became the Congregation of the Mission, or Lazarists, so named on account of the Priory of St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.
It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty, September 27, 1660. He was canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII.
PRAYER: God, You gave St. Vincent de Paul apostolic virtues for the salvation of the poor and the formation of the clergy. Grant that, endowed with the same spirit, we may love what he loved and act according to his teaching. Amen.