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Saint of the Day for 27 September: St Vincent de Paul

The French priest who dedicated his life to the poor and needy

Name

Vincent de Paul

Title

Priest and founder

Birth

24 April 1581, Puy, France

Death

27 September 1660, Paris, France

Recurrence

27 September

Martyrology

2004 edition

Beatification

21 August 1729, Rome, Pope Benedict XIII

Canonisation

16 June 1737, Rome, Pope Clement XII

Prayer

O St. Vincent father of all the wretched, who never rejected anyone who had recourse to you, deh! See how many evils we are oppressed by, and come to our aid: obtain from the Lord succour for the poor, relief for the sick, consolation for the afflicted, protection for the abandoned, charity for the rich, conversion for sinners, zeal for priests, peace for the Church, tranquillity for peoples; let all experience the effects of your paternal charity, so that we may be reunited with you where there will be no more weeping, mourning or pain. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. So be it.

Protector of

Charities, abandoned children, forced labourers, nurses, prisoners, slaves

Roman Martyrology

Memory of St. Vincent de Paul, priest, who, full of priestly spirit, dedicated himself in Paris to the care of the poor, recognising in the face of every suffering person that of his Lord, and founded the Congregation of the Mission and, with the collaboration of St. Louise de Marillac, the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity, to provide for the restoration of the way of life proper to the Church of the origins, to train the clergy in a holy way and to assist the poor.

 

The Saint and Mission

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St Vincent de Paul is often recognised as a pioneer of Christian charity, having dedicated his life to serving the poor, orphans, and the sick. His mission was clear: to alleviate human suffering and promote the dignity of every individual, regardless of their social status. Some significant dimensions of his mission are explored below:

Service to the Poor

St Vincent de Paul saw in the poor the face of Christ. His mission was rooted in the conviction that serving the poor was a concrete manifestation of God’s love. He not only provided material help, but also sought to restore dignity to those who had been marginalised by society.

Education and Formation

St. Vincent understood the importance of education as a means to break the cycle of poverty. He founded the Congregation of the Mission (or Lazarists) to train priests who could, in turn, educate and assist the poor. His educational vision went beyond religious education to include literacy and vocational training.

Reform of Charitable Structures

St. Vincent worked tirelessly to improve the charitable structures of the time, promoting efficiency, empathy and sustainability in serving the needy. His systematic approach to charity laid the foundation for many modern Catholic charitable organisations.

Cooperation and Networking

Through cooperation with other religious and lay groups, St. Vincent enhanced the effectiveness of its charitable work. It created support networks between various communities and promoted collaboration between different sectors of society to address the challenges of poverty and marginalisation.

Advocacy for Social Justice

Although he was best known for his direct charity, St Vincent was also an advocate for social justice. He sought to raise awareness of the social injustices of the time and encouraged the powerful to respond to the needs of the less fortunate.

Legacy of Compassion

The legacy of St Vincent de Paul lives on through the many charitable organisations that follow his example of humble and compassionate service. His life and mission remain a beacon of hope and a model of selfless service that continues to inspire future generations.

St Vincent de Paul’s mission extended far beyond the simple act of giving. He revolutionised the Church’s approach to charity, demonstrating that Christian love can and must manifest itself through concrete actions aimed at improving the lives of others, particularly the most vulnerable in society.

The Saint and Mercy

St Vincent de Paul, an emblematic figure of Christian mercy, embodied the essence of compassion through his unconditional service to the less fortunate. His life is an intricate fabric of acts of mercy reflecting God’s love for humanity.

Recognition of Humanity

St Vincent de Paul showed profound mercy by recognising and respecting the dignity of every person, regardless of their social status. This recognition of common humanity served as the foundation for his empathetic approach to the suffering of others.

Response to Suffering

St Vincent’s mercy manifested itself through a practical and compassionate response to suffering. He not only provided material help, but also offered spiritual comfort, showing a deep understanding and empathy for the challenges faced by the poor and needy.

Education for Compassion

St. Vincent promoted education as a means of emancipation, facilitating access to education for orphans and the poor. This was his mercy in action, seeking to provide tools and resources to help individuals overcome life’s challenges.

Formation of Mercy Communities

With the foundation of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity, St Vincent created communities where mercy was lived and shared. These groups continued to serve as channels of mercy, extending love and support to those in need.

Promoting a Culture of Mercy

Through his example and teaching, St Vincent helped nurture a culture of mercy within the Church and wider society. He emphasised the importance of mercy as a central Christian virtue, positively influencing the attitude of his contemporaries and future generations.

Legacy of Mercy

St Vincent de Paul’s legacy of mercy endures, inspiring countless individuals and organisations to live a life of service and compassion. His life continues to serve as a powerful reminder of mercy’s ability to transform lives and bring light into the darkness of human suffering.

Mercy was the beating heart of St Vincent de Paul’s mission. Through his selfless service, he embodied the Gospel call to be instruments of God’s mercy in a world in need, leaving an indelible imprint of love and compassion that continues to resonate throughout the centuries.

The Mission Priests

The Mission Priests, also known as the Mission Congregation or Lazarists, represent one of the Catholic Church’s most tangible and dynamic responses to the evangelical call to serve the poorest and most marginalised. These priests have embodied a model of ministry rooted in mercy and concrete action. Their mission extends beyond simply proclaiming the Word of God, embracing a holistic vision that considers the whole person – body, mind and spirit.

Their commitment to impoverished and marginalised communities reflects a deep understanding of mercy as more than just a sentiment. For the Mission Priests, mercy translates into concrete actions that alleviate suffering and promote human dignity. Moreover, their approach goes beyond welfarism, aiming rather at creating sustainable living conditions for the people helped.

The solidary and constant presence of the Mission Priests in the neediest areas of the world underlines the essence of Christian mercy. This mercy manifests itself not only in providing material support, but also in listening, spiritual accompaniment and empowerment of the communities served. In a world often indifferent to suffering, the Mission Priests continue to be a light of hope and a tangible sign of God’s mercy.

Through education, health care, pastoral support and community development initiatives, the Priests of the Mission are responding pragmatically to the urgencies of our times, remaining faithful to the merciful and inclusive charism of St. Vincent de Paul. In this way, they not only bring immediate relief, but also plant the seeds of long-term transformation, demonstrating how mercy can become a driving force for social and spiritual change.

Hagiography

He is called the Thomas Aquinas of charity; just as St Thomas gave the Christian world the masterpiece of theology with his Summa, so St Vincent de Paul with his institutions gave men the masterpiece of charity. He was able to gather in his soul all that Catholic generosity, in the course of the ages, had found to lift up the…

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