September 27 – St. Vincent de Paul had special charity to the impoverished nobility

September 27, 2012

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul founded a special organization for the relief of the nobility of Lorraine who had sought refuge in Paris during the Thirty Years War. In that period of the war known as the French period Lorraine, Trois-Evechés, Franche-Comté, and Champagne underwent for nearly a quarter of a century all the horrors and scourges which then more than ever war drew in its train.

St. Vincent funded in the ruined provinces the work of the potages économiques, the tradition of which still subsists in our modern economic kitchens.  He encouraged the foundation of societies undertaking to bury the dead and to clean away the dirt which was a permanent cause of plague. They were often headed by the missionaries and the Sisters of Charity. After the general peace he directed his solicitude and his alms to the Irish and English Catholics who had been driven from their country.

Spanish born Queen of France Anne of Austria gives crown and jewels to St. Vincent de Paul painting by JM Rodriguez de Losada

All these benefits had rendered the name of Vincent de Paul popular in Paris and even at the Court. Richelieu sometimes received him and listened favorably to his requests; he assisted him in his first seminary foundations and established a house for his missionaries in the village of Richelieu. On his deathbed Louis XIII desired to be assisted by him: “Oh, Monsieur Vincent”, said he, “if I am restored to health I shall appoint no bishops unless they have spent three years with you.” His widow, Ann of Austria, made Vincent a member of the council of conscience charged with nominations to benefices. These honors did not alter Vincent’s modesty and simplicity. He went to the Court only through necessity, in fitting but simple garb. He made no use of his influence save for the welfare of the poor and in the interest of the Church.

St. Vincent de Paul with the Ladies of Charity, painting by Louis Galloche 1732.

Besides the Daughters of Charity Vincent de Paul secured for the poor the services of the Ladies of Charity, at the request of the Archbishop of Paris. He grouped (1634) under this name some pious women who were determined to nurse the sick poor entering the Hotel-Dieu to the number of 20,000 or 25,000 annually; they also visited the prisons. Among them were as many as 200 ladies of the highest rank. After having drawn up their rule St. Vincent upheld and stimulated their charitable zeal. It was due to them that he was able to collect the enormous sums which he distributed in aid of all the unfortunates. Among the works, which their co-operation enabled him to undertake, that of the care of foundlings was one of the most important.

Ladies of Charity giving alms to St. Vincent de Paul.

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