St. Vincent de Paul was a Catholic saint dedicated to helping the poor and vulnerable. He was born in France in 1576, to a family of peasant farmers. He studied humanities in college and graduated with a degree in theology before being ordained in 1600. After his ordination, he remained in the city of Toulouse for some time, departing only to collect an inheritance overseas. On his return, he was attacked and taken captive by Turkish pirates, who brought him to Tunis and sold him into slavery. De Paul remained a slave for two years, but he managed to escape after he converted his owner to Christianity. He went first to Rome to continue his studies but was instead sent to France, where he served as chaplain to King Henry IVís wife, Margaret of Valois. Three years later, he was transferred once again and began to serve the wealthy Gondi family. There he acted as spiritual director to Madame de Gondi, and with her assistance he began conducting missions to serve the peasants in the surrounding villages. After he left the Gondi family, Vincent secured a position as chaplain to the galleys, and he sought to improve the prisonersí physical and moral states. He visited them often, speaking kind words and performing services for them. A house was purchased, which Vincent transformed into a hospital to better serve the ailing convicts. He was soon appointed royal almoner by Louis XIII, and he extended his mission to the galleys of Marseilles and Bordeaux. With the urging of Madame de Gondi, de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission, an organization of priests dedicated to the evangelization of the local peoples. He later established the Daughters of Charity, a group of young women with aims similar to those of the Congregation. He and his fellow missionaries distributed alms during the French period of the Thirty Yearsí War, when his homeland was impacted the hardest. He continued to served the poor in France until his death in 1660. Vincent de Paul was declared Blessed by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729 and was canonized eight years later. He is the patron saint of charities, prisoners, and volunteers.
Key events during the life of St. Vincent de Paul:
||Born in France
||Captured by pirates and sold into slavery
||Escaped captivity after converting his owner
||Sent to France on a mission to Henry IV
||Began serving the Gondi family
||Founded the Congregation of the Mission
||Founded the Daughters of Charity
||Declared Blessed by Pope Benedict XIII
||Popular Huguenot King who converted to Catholicism, but decreed religious toleration.
|Saint Francis de Sales
||Reformation era priest noted for opposing the spread of protestantism in Savoy.
|Saint Isaac Jogues
||Heroic Jesuit missionary to Indians. Tortured by the Indians, but returned to preach the gospel.
|Maria de Medici
||Queen of Henry IV, and regent following his assassination.
||Very influential Minister of Louis XIII. Consolidated royal power and crushed dissenters.