St. Vincent is the founder of the Congregation of the Missions (Vencentians ) and co-founder of the Daughters of Charity. Vincent was born in France in 1580, the son of a peasant farmer. He was a highly intelligent youth and attended the University of Toulouse. Vincent was ordained at the age of 20.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, Vincent fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, a wealthy Count in France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which became the Congregation of the Missions or Lazarists, so named on account of the Priory of St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.
It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent.
St. Vincent’s soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron saint of charitable societies.