Today, at the tail end of September, the church turns its attention to a saint who spent his entire life attending to society’s poor, Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest and Friend of the Outcast.
In the late 16th Century, Saint de Paul was born a peasant in southwest France. He was an attentive student, and was ordained at the young age of 20, having come under the tutelage of Fr. Peter de Berulle, who would eventually become a Cardinal.
Having grown up in poverty, Saint Vincent dedicated his life to his people: the poor and the outcast.
He made his home in the galleys of slaves imprisoned in Paris, and even is said to have taken the place of one of them for some time. That, Beloved, is walking in the shoes of the other.
He founded communities of both men and women who took up the causes of the impoverished, and took his message into the rural areas of France, reforming how priests were trained and therefore related to the destitute in the fields around Paris.
He founded the Congregation of Mission, later called Lazarists. He founded the Daughters of Charity, the first congregation of women not enclosed in a convent, who took no perpetual vows but rather entirely devoted themselves to the care of the sick and the poor.
This was their solemn vow.
He said to these servants, “Your convent is the sick room, your chapel the local parish, and your cloister is the streets of the city.”
Wow. Read that again. Let it be written on your head, on your hands, and on your hearts, Beloved.
He spurred others to generous living, even as he himself had little to give other than himself. And though a male, he is reputed to have related to females with no condescension or contentiousness. They were co-workers in the field of the world.
St. Vincent died on September 27th in 1660, and is a reminder for me and the whole church that, well, when we’re at our best…
Our convent is the sick room.
Our Cathedral is the local gathering of folks dedicating themselves to public good.
Our cloister, our sisters and brothers in service, are the streets of our cities, our dirt roads, and our back alleys.
-historical bits from Pfatteicher’s _New Book of Festivals & Commemorations
-Icon by one of my favorite icon writers, Nowitzki Tramonto