St. Vincent de Paul was born to a poor peasant family in the French village of Pouy on April 24, 1581. His first formal education was provided by the Franciscans. He did so well, he was hired to tutor the children of a nearby wealthy family. He used the monies he earned teaching to continue his formal studies at the University of Toulose where he studied theology. His father encouraged and helped him toward the priesthood, to which he was ordained on September 23, 1600, at the age of nineteen or twenty.
Educated by the Franciscans at Dax, France, he was ordained in 1600 and graduated from the University of Toulouse in 1604. He was allegedly captured at sea by Barbary pirates and sold as a slave but eventually escaped. He spent a year in Rome to continue his studies and then went to Paris, where he remained permanently. He placed himself under the spiritual guidance of the celebrated cardinal Pierre de Bérulle, who entrusted him with the parish of Clichy.
In 1622 Vincent was appointed chaplain to the galleys. After working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the superior of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the “Vincentians” (in France known as “Lazaristes”). These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.Read More »