Monsieur Vincent was born in Pouy near Dax on 24 April 1581 to a peasant family with very modest incomes. He studied theology in Dax and Toulouse and was ordained priest in 1600. Five years later he was taken captive by pirates during a trip and sent as a slave to Tunis where he stayed two years before being able to escape. He stayed in Rome, then returned to France and became the chaplain of Marguerite de France in 1610, and later the private tutor of the rich de Gondi family.
While staying with Madame de Gondi in Picardie for her good works, he witnessed the material and spiritual misery of the peasants and was deeply
moved by the confession of an old dying man. The next day he delivered an extraordinary sermon in the church of
Folleville which ended in a general confession.
He became priest in a parish near Lyon and founded in 1617 the "Ladies of the Charity" to help the poor both financially and spiritually, supported by well-off ladies. In 1619, he was made head chaplain of the galley slaves and would always prove charitable.
With the support of Madame de Gondi he founded the Congregation of Priests of the Mission, also known as Lazarists, in 1625, whose goal was to help
and evangelize the poor in the countryside. In 1633 he founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity (also known as the Sisters of Saint Vincent
de Paul) with Louise de Marillac to help the sick, the poor and the abandoned children (as of 1638).
He carried on with these actions for three decades and helped the victims of the religion war between catholics and protestants, always preaching moderation. He spoke up for peace to the kings of France and the court several times to end wars and organized help for the inhabitants of the devastated regions. He also made all possible efforts to help and free the christians imprisoned in inhuman conditions in Barbary.
Vincent de Paul organized spiritual retreats, with people of all social status, where poor and rich would pray and take their meals together. He founded another important almshouse for the elder. After a life dedicated to the poor, the sick and to God, Vincent died on 27 September 1660, murmuring "Trust! Jesus!". His body has remained incorrupt to this day.
"Notre vocation est donc d'aller, non en une paroisse, ni seulement en un évêché, mais par toute la terre ; et quoi faire ?
Embraser les cœurs des hommes, faire ce que le Fils de Dieu a fait, lui qui est venu mettre le feu au monde afin de l'enflammer de son amour."