Feast Day: September 25
Canonized: June 16, 1737
Vincent de Paul was born of poor parents in in Gascony, France. He was ordained a priest at the age of 19. Five years later, Barbary pirates took him captive and sold him as a slave in North Africa. He spent two years in bondage until he escaped with his master, whom he had converted.
In 1609, he returned to France, where he served as a parish priest. In 1617, he began to preach missions and founded the Ladies of Charity from a group of women in his parish to collect funds for missionary projects, to found hospitals, to gather relief victims for victims of war and to ransom galley slaves from North Africa. From that group came the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
In 1625, de Paul laid the foundation for the Congregation of the Mission. Known as Vincentians, the congregation’s priests devoted themselves to the poor. Renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity, de Paul also conducted clergy retreats, helped establish seminaries and pioneered clerical training.
In 1885, Pope Leo XIII named him the patron of Catholic charitable societies.
BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.