St. Vincent de Paul was born in 1581 into a poor peasant farming
family in the south of France. His early years were like those of
his era: formed in the Catholic faith of his devout and loving
parents, hard work on the family farm he shared with his brothers
and sisters; and a desire to be more- to do more- with his
With his parents’ blessing, Vincent set out to study for the
priesthood at University of Toulouse and achieved his goal in 1600,
when ordained by the bishop of Perigueux.
After a pilgrimage to Rome and further studies, Vincent de Paul
set his sights on Paris, where he sought a lucrative priestly
assignment to support his parents on their farm. At first, all went
well; Vincent became pastor of a parish in Clichy; then chaplain to
the wealthy de Gondi family. He had what he had always wanted:
status, comfort, and security.
Strangely enough, Vincent was quite unhappy and could not
understand why. Little did he know that God was to use the poor
country laborers on the de Gondi estate-people Vincent rarely, if
ever saw- as a means of bringing about a lifelong conversion.