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Saint Of The Day For January 22: Saint Vincent Pallotti, Priest

Vincent Pallotti (1795-1850), promoted the role of the laity in the Church ahead of its time, overcoming the mistrust of the ecclesiastical world.

For him, the proclamation of the Gospel is not the responsibility of the clergy alone but of all baptised men and women.

He dreams of a community in which everyone is an ‘apostle’.

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The History of Vincent

He was born on 21 April 1795 to Pietro Paolo and Maria Magdalena de Rossi, of whom St Vincent would say: ‘The Lord gave me holy parents.

What account must I render to God, if I have not profited from their holy teachings’.

Ordained a priest on 16 May 1818 after his humanistic and theological studies, he was entrusted with the ‘Office of the Faculty of Dogmatics and Scholasticism’ to exercise the students in scientific work, and at the same time he was confessor at the Roman Seminary, from 1827 to 1840, and confessor at the Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide, from 1833 to 1836: “Who am I before you, my God,” he wrote, “that you, day and night, whether I wake or sleep, whether I think of you or not, in spite of my ingratitude and sins, with infinite Love, should always think of me to destroy my unworthiness and transform me all into you? “.

Society of the Catholic Apostolate of Vincent

In 1834, in a private capacity, he began to gather priests and lay people around him, knowing how to involve men and women, clergymen of all ranks, so that the discussion would be as broad as possible and reflect society.

His ministry as a confessor brought him into contact with both diocesan priests and those who were preparing to go on mission, and this allowed him to keep an open door to the East.

Vincent, Forerunner of the Second Vatican Council

Vincent had understood – like a few others in Italy, including Fr Nicola Mazza in Verona – that after the ‘blow’ of the French Revolution it was necessary not only to ‘defend’ the faith, but to proclaim it, to take it to every reality, and the laity were the best ‘apostles’ as they reached where priests and bishops could not.

Although the intuition is valid and Gregory XVI approves of it, Vincent will find many obstacles in seeing it put into practice, even more so if one takes into account that many of these intuitions will only be recognised with the Second Vatican Council, thus after 1964.

The death and cult of Vincent

Vincent died on 22nd January 1850, just in time to complete the writings that would go on to shape the Congregation of Secular Priests of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (SAC) and the Pious House of Charity dedicated to the SAC sisters.

The collection of his writings was started as early as 1852 and continued, collecting and analysing each of his writings, until 1886.

In 1887 Leo XIII authorised the start of the cause for beatification; on 22 January 1950 Pius XII proclaimed him blessed and on 20 January 1963 proclaimed him a saint, just two years before the Council publicly recognised the role of the laity and their apostolate.

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