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 subpreceptor to 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 priest in 1600.
1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and
was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence
enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became
preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France.
In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which
afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof
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. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.