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St. Vincent de Paul & Bl.

Frdric Ozanam Lives of Distinction

St. Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul was born on April 24, 1581 in Pouy, France. Pouy is near Dax, not far from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees Mountains, in a region is known as the Landes. Vincent often referred to himself as a Gascon, another name for this part of southwestern France.

Palo comes from the Latin (palus) or marsh. Hence, de Paul refers to the marshes and a stream called Paul which flooded this area. The Ardour River is nearby. This photo is taken from outside the Church of St. Vincent in Pouy, his place of birth. The stilts on the left are inside his home, although very likely not the ones he used.

St. Vincent is the third of six siblings: four boys and two girls. His parents were Jean de Paul and Bertrande de Moras. His parents were loving and faith-filled; hard-working, collaborative family; frugality of food on the table. They did not have the best of farming land to work from. Although not rich, this family was certainly not poor either.

I addressed myself to God to beg him earnestly to change this curt and forbidding disposition of mine for a meek and benign one. By the grace of our Lord and with some effort on my part to repress the outbursts of passion, I was able to get rid of my black disposition. -Abelly, The Life of the Venerable Servant of God, Vincent de Paul, Vol. III, p. 163. None are more consistent and firm in doing good than those who are meek and gracious. While, on the contrary, those who allow themselves to give in to anger and the passions of the irascible appetite are usually very inconsistent, because they act only be fits and starts. They are like torrents, which are strong and impetuous in full flood, but which dry up immediately afterwards. By contrast rivers, representing that which is gentle and gracious, flow on noiselessly, tranquilly and unfailingly. from a conference on Meekness.

Blessed Frdric Ozanam

Bl. Frdric
Born in Milan, Italy on April 23, 1813; then under the French government. He was the fifth child of a family of 14. Jean-Antoine Ozanam and Marie Nantas, Parents Moved with Family to Lyon, France in 1815. Taught by his sister, Elisa, 12 years older than he. Parents experienced near financial ruin. Jean practiced medicine and raised them to middle class standing. Examples of faith and compassion.

In a letter to his friend Materne, dated June 5, 1830, Frederic said this of himself: Six months after my illness, my sister, my beloved sister died. I shared in my familys grief. Oh how painful it was! I studied Latin and I came to know spite. Truly, I was never so mean and mischievous as I was at eight. At that time, I had no other friends outside my family. I used to get angry and be stubborn and disobedient. I would be punished. I would rebel against the punishment. As for the bad, I have reduced it to four major categories: pride, impatience, weakness, and being meticulous.

St. Vincent de Paul


Born April 24, 1581 In Pouy, France 3rd in family of 6 Farmer-shepherd and priest Family was not rich, but not exactly poor Worked as a shepherd as a young boy Vincent had a quick temper Highly intelligent, but not original thinker.

Bl. Frdric Ozanam


Born April 23, 1813 In Milan, Italy 5th in family of 14 City-boy and layman Middle class family Was prone to illness Prone to anger and melancholy, also meticulousness Highly intelligent and original thinker

St. Vincents father recognized his potential academically. Monsieur Comet, an attorney at Dax and judge of Pouy, invited young Vincent to live in his home while attending school. Vincent was highly creative and inventive in turning good ideas into practical. He was eclectic and could adapt easily; a man of keen sensitivity and high intuition. Vincent received two academic degrees: theology from the University of Toulous in 1604 and Canon Law in 1623. For Vincent, studies were always a means to an end. He was filled with lofty ambitions.

Frederic Ozanam, on the other hand, was an original thinker and the recipient of two doctorates in law (1836 at the behest of his father) and foreign literature (1839). He was fluent in Latin and Greek, and later learned German, Hebrew, English and Sanskrit. Frederic was an author of poetry and many scholastic works. He could zero in on issues that affected peoples lives. He had a high degree of sensitivity and listening skills.

Vincent was a good teacher and tutored for a living as a teenager and young priest.

Frederic was renowned as a teacher and taught at two schools before receiving a prestigious position at the Sorbonne, the University of Paris.

Surrounded by Inuential Persons


St. Vincent de Paul

Bl. Frdric Ozanam

Cardinal Pierre de Brulle Fr. Jean-Jacques Olier St. Jane Frances de Chantal St. Francis de Sales St. Louise de Marillac St. John Eudes De Gondi Family Queen Anne of Austria

Abb Joseph Mathias Noirot Fr. Henri Lacordaire Andr-Marie Ampre Bl. Rosalie Rendu Emmanuel Bailly

Who are influential persons in your life?

It was in this chapel that Vincent de Paul was ordained to the priesthood by Bp. Francois de Bourdeilles on September 23, 1600. He was under age (19) when he was ordained to the priesthood, according to the Council of Trent. However, the tenets of Trent had not been adopted at that point in France. Therefore, the ordination was valid. For Vincent, ordination was a means of upward mobility. It is noteworthy to hear Vincents recollection of his ordination some fifty years later. He said: As for me, if I had known what it was all about when I was rash enough to enter it, as I have come to know since, I would rather have worked the soil than engage in such a fearsome state in life.

Frederic married Amelie Soulacroix at 28 years of age in the Church of Saint Nizier in Lyon, France, on June 23, 1841. He wrote to Franois Lallier: You must find me completely infatuated, head over heels in love, but I cannot hide it, although I sometimes laugh at myself. I really thought my heart was immune. They were both very ready for marriage and had made a number of important decisions before the wedding itself.

Crisis of Faith

In January, 1617, Vincent learned about a man who wanted him to hear his confession. This elderly man felt that his spiritual well-being would be in jeopardy without the opportunity of a general confession. Vincent would see the peril of many others thru the eyes of this man. He also perceived how ill prepared the clergy were in general to hear confessions when a woman had to hand the priest a copy of the prayer of absolution. These experiences and the response of the people to a mission given by Vincent and others in Folleville (near Amiens) following a sermon on Jan. 25, 1617 began to give focus to Vincents vocation as a priest. The ambitions which had driven him to find financial security for he and his family were replaced with a keen call to follow Christ by serving the poor. Priesthood was no longer just a career but a vocation. Whereas before he strove to escape poverty, now Vincent was willing to embrace those who were poor. Here was someone who prior to his conversion had been quite ordinary, but chose to live his life with zeal and a genuine inner transformation.

Frederic Ozanam similarly found a profound inner peace once he made a vow to God in service of the truth. With this inner clarity Frederic saw his vocation as a team (husband and wife); was less preoccupied with money; and strove to form meaningful and mutual relationships. This regard for others was expressed through gestures such as flowers, locket, poems and letters.

By dint of hearing talk of unbelievers and unbelief, I began to ask myself why I believed. I doubted, my dear friend, and yet I wanted to believe. I dismissed my doubts, I read all the books containing the proofs of religion and I could not find a single one that satisfied me. I believed for a month or two on the authority of one or another of the arguments, and then an objection arose in my mind and I doubted again. Oh, how I suffered, for I wanted to be religious! My faith was not strong and yet I preferred believing without reason to doubting because it tormented me too much. I started studying philosophy. The theory of certainty turned everything upside down. I believed for an instant that I could doubt my existence, but it was impossible. I at last decided to believe, and little by little everything became steadier. - Letter to Auguste Materne, June 5, 1830

What events in your life have changed your perspective on your vocation and the manner in which you live your life? How did you recognize Gods presence in these events?

In a real sense, because of Gods providence, we can say that St. Vincent was a father in as much as he lived his very words: Love is inventive unto infinity. Thus Vincent created, authored and gave life/inspiration to a myriad of works in his day and many of these same works continue today. His was a fatherhood of action in which he responded to human needs by discerning the situation, placing it in prayer, and responding decisively. He was convinced that God acted in events, persons and situations.

Frederic could equally be called a father. He, together with his wife Amelie, had their daughter Marie. He was the author of many works, including scholarly books and newspaper, The New Era. In this periodical we find some of his clearest and definitive teachings on social justice. He was really ahead of his time. But his greatest creation was the establishment of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

St. Vincent knew poverty first hand.

Influenced by the poor. Charity and Evangelization are inseparable. Poor gave him the opportunity to practice virtue.

Frederic also had a preferential option for the poor. He, too, knew the desperate needs of the poor and advocated on their behalf. He was even urged to run for a political office in Lyon and, no doubt, advocated strongly on behalf of the poor. You would certainly not hear this, today, among politicians seeking office. He, like Vincent, did not work exclusively with the poor. He invited many persons, especially students, to collaborate with him in this all-important ministry. He and Vincent both were evangelized by the poor.

Vincent died on Monday, September 27th at 4:45 a.m. His last word was: Jesus. His last months, however, were excruciatingly painful. He died calmly, though. Vincent had been a priest for 60 years. His only regret was that he had not done enough for God.

At 7:50 p.m. on the evening of September 8, 1853, the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Frederic cried out: My God, my God, have mercy on me. He had been married 12 years, and was surrounded by his wife, daughter, two brothers-in-law, and members of the Society. Before his death, he said: What better preparation for death than a long sickness and plenty of good works?