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Vincentius de Paul

Elisabeth Gruyters wanted to place her monastery under the protection of Saint Vincent de Paul, but after the submission of the first Constitutions, Rome asked her to join another congregation under Saint Vincent à Paolo. Because Elisabeth wanted to form her own congregation, Rome subsequently appointed Saint Charles Borromeo as patron of the congregation. Elisabeth agreed with this and St. Vincent de Paulo became the second patron.

Vincent de Paul was born on April 24th, 1581 in Dax, Castogne in the south of Burgundy (France). His parents were simple people of peasant descent. Vincent was a shepherd first. Then he studied theology and after his ordination -he was only 19 years old- he was imprisoned by the Turks. He was treated like a slave, converted his master and fled with him to Rome and France. At first he was a parish priest in Clichy, near Paris and became the main chaplain of the galley slaves shortly after. His love for fellow-man knew no bounds: he cared for foundlings, for boys and girls in danger, for galley slaves, fallen women, mentally ill, beggars, sick pilgrims etc.


Vincent de Paul launched a movement of charitableness: first of all he founded the charity institutions (generally known as the St Vincent de Paul movement) then he founded the Daughters of Charity, young women who were to work within these institutions and finally the Priests of the Mission otherwise known as Lazarists/ Vincentians.

Vincent set up rules for these institutions. The influence of these rules did not remain restricted to the groups he founded. Two centuries later it inspired many 19th century congregations to make the spirit of Vincent their own. He is therefore often called the Father of active religious.

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