Manila, Philippines – St. Vincent de Paul was born in 1580 in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, the son of Jean de Paul and Bertrande de Moras. His first schooling was under the tutelage of the Francisan Fathers at Acqs. He studied at the Spanish University of Saragosa and in 1596, he returned to France and studied theology at the University of Toulouse. In 1600 at the age of 24, he was ordained priest by the bishop of Perigueux. He remained in Toulouse for another four years to finish his doctorate in theology.
After receiving his degree, Vincent came home but had to return to Toulouse to receive an inheritance left for him by an old woman of that city. In 1605 in route for home, he made a sidetrip from Marseilles to Narbonne on board a small vessel. The ship was set upon by Turkish pirates who sold him into slavery. After converting his master he escaped in 1607. He returned to France, continued his studies in Rome, then served as Chaplain to Queen Marguerite de Valois in France. Soon afterwards, he became Confessor and Spiritual Director to Madame de Gondi, then Chaplain to the galleys.
In 1622, he founded the Congregation of the Mission composed of missionary priests known as Vincentianes or Lagariats. In 1963, he founded the Sisters of Charity with the assistance of Louise de Marillac. He made plans for the establishment of several hospitals to serve the sick, foundlings, and the aged. He also opened a home for the exhausted galley slaves in Marseilles. His accomplishments were varied, from helping strayed souls, teaching the ignorant, bringing sinners to penitence, and setting the Gospel of charity, humility, and simplicity in the hearts of all Christians.
Deeply concerned with the rise of the Jansenist heresy, Vincent fiercely protested against a view of God that seemed to have a limited mercy. Before his demise, Vincent underwent much suffering. On September 27, 1660, he passed way at the age of 80 years old. He was buried in the church of St. Lazare in Paris. He was beatified in 1729 by Pope Benedict XIII and was canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. He was proclaimed patron of charitable societies by Pope Leo XIII.
As we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, let us be inspired by his faith, hope, and charity and imitate his moral Christian virtues.