THE SOCIETY of ST. VINCENT de PAUL
The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVdP) is an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church, founded in 1833 for the sanctification of its members by personal service of the poor. Innumerable Catholic parishes have established "conferences", most of which affiliate with a diocesan council.
St. Vincent de Paul
Saint Vincent de Paul, the French 17th century priest, was known as the patron of Catholic charities for his apostolic work among the poor and marginalized. Vincent established the Congregation of Priests of the Mission in 1625, as part of an effort to evangelize rural populations and foster vocations to remedy a priest shortage. Not long after this, he worked with Louise de Marillac to organize the Daughters of Charity, the first congregation of women religious whose consecrated life involved an extensive apostolate among the poor, the sick, and prisoners.
St. Louise de Marillac
St. Louise de Marillac (1591 - 1660) was educated by the Dominican nuns. In 1625 she met Vincent de Paul, who became her spiritual adviser. She devoted the rest of her life to working with him. She helped direct his Ladies of Charity in their work of caring for the sick, the poor, and the neglected. In 1633 she set up a training center in her own home and become directress for candidates seeking to help in her work. This was the beginning of the Sisters (or Daughters, as Vincent preferred) of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Almost four hundred years later, the work of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac continue to flourish and inspire.
Blessed Frederic Ozanam
Blessed Frederic Ozanam (1813 - 1853) was the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Frederic was homeschooled until nine, and then attended the Royal Academy of Lyon. As a teenager Frederic suffered a crisis of faith; the doubts disappeared when he dedicated his life to the service of truth. At the request of his father, Frederic enrolled in the School of Law at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he became an apologist as he defended his faith relentlessly in the university lecture hall and through his writing.
On his twentieth birthday, in 1833, Frederic and five other college students and friends met in the Catholic newspaper offices of owner and editor Mr. Emmanuel Bailly. They were tired of all of the talk when they saw the poor begging and living on the streets of Paris. Frederic said, “Let’s do what Jesus did… let’s go to the poor.” They agreed and organized a Conference of Charity, which later became the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Blessed Rosalie Rendu
Blessed Rosalie Rendu (1786-1856) was a French Daughter of Charity who dedicated her life to serving the poor and marginalized in the slums of 19th century Paris. Known for her humility and compassion, she was a tireless advocate for the destitute and sick, and worked to provide them with access to healthcare, education, and basic necessities. She also trained other Sisters of Charity to serve alongside her, and inspired the formation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which continues to serve the poor and vulnerable today. Rosalie Rendu's selfless dedication to serving others earned her the nickname "the good mother of the poor." She was beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003.