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Vincent De Paul
1581-1660. Founder of the Lazarists.* Born in Landes, France, of a peasant family, he studied humanities at Dax (1595-97) and theology at Toulouse (1604). He was for two years a slave in Tunisia after capture by pirates (1605-7). Following his conversion he was almoner to Queen Marquerite of Valois (1610); pastor of a congregation at Clichy (1612-26); and chaplain to the family of Philippe-Emmanuel de Gondi, general of the galleys, which included looking after their household staff and the peasants on their estates. Seeking God rather than benefices, he decided for a life of serving the poor; in 1617 he founded the first Confraternity of Charity. He was appointed superior of the Visitation convents in Paris (1622); principal of the Collège des Bons-Enfants, Paris (1924); superior of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists), and Daughters of Charity (1633). He started retreats for ordinands, organized the Tuesday Conferences for clergy, founded seminaries, established provincial relief during the Wars of Religion, ministered to Louis XIII, served on Louis XIV's Council of Conscience, actively opposed Jansenism,* and lived to see his work increase in and spread beyond France. Canonized in 1737, he was in 1885 named patron of all works of charity for which he is in any way the inspiration.
See studies by P. Coste (ET 3 vols., 1952), A. Dodin (French 1960), and M. Roche (1964).