Born in 1576, ordained to the priesthood in 1600, he suffered many trials and setbacks and did not become a pastor for a number of years after his ordination.
He was captured by Muslim pirates and held in captivity for two years
after which he escaped with an apostate Italian, whom he succeeded in
converting back to Catholicism.
It was only in 1617 that he became a pastor and also the chaplain to Queen Marguerite, the separated wife of King Henry IV.
During this period, he founded many hospitals and orphanages, and
frequently visited prisons. Through all of these arduous works, he
remained calm and pleasant with everyone despite the tremendous amount
of work he had undertaken, because as Father de Laurent states, Vincent
possessed treasures of goodness.
His bright eyes reflected his burning charity and his copious
undertakings were the fruit of his pure goodness for “no one exerts a
serious influence upon his surroundings if he is not fundamentally
good.” He welcomed all with a beaming smile and charm, and firmly
believed that the hours that he sacrificed to charity were never lost.
He saw the wealthy as a reflection of the Divine nobility of Our
Lord, and in the poor, His voluntary and sublime poverty. While Vincent
received many considerably large donations along with notable
recognition from on high, none of this affected his profound humility.
He also led an intense spiritual life. His contemplation of God gave him
the graces and strength to accomplish what ordinary men could never do.
was a man of action, but he also was a man of continual prayer. His
actions were a mere overflowing of his interior life, which was well
He would often say “There is not much to hope for from a man who does
not like to converse with God.” Rising at four in the morning, he would
go directly to the chapel to spend an hour in meditation, celebrate
daily Mass and afterward, recite his breviary.
Visitors would come by seeking consultations in grave matters during
which he would remain silent for a few minutes, praying to God for good
counsel and then dispense advice. He would bless himself each time that
the clock struck the hour or quarter-hour. Vincent said that he saw the
soul of Jane Frances de Chantal rise to Heaven in the form of a fiery
globe during one of his Masses.
He was a humble man who never divulged his prayer life, often
recommended communal prayer and would frequently say, “Perfection in
love does not consist of ecstasies, but in doing the will of God.”
Most importantly, he had a special devotion to Our Lady. He began
this devotion in his youth and increased it throughout his life.
Ultimately, he went forward in life after contemplation and prayer, not
relying on human support, and by doing the Will of God.
Vincent was taken ill and died in 1660. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.