Wednesday, September 27, 2006

St. Vincent de Paul

Today's saint corresponds so well to the day's Gospel you'd think it had been planned that way. Vincent de Paul's name practically equals "charity" to the needy and the sick. Here in New Orleans, the Daughters of Charity (the women's Order he founded with St. Louise de Marillac) ran Charity Hospital for about 100 years. Perhaps if they had still been in charge, it would not have been reduced to the condition it was in by the time Katrina rolled into town. The sisters also ran the leper colony at Carville. A member of my extended family is a Daughter of Charity, though now she is on the receiving end of ministry to the sick. When we were kids, we loved standing next to Sister Laboure at Mardi Gras. People on the floats would practically pour trinkets into her sack, and she would bring these back to Carville for a Mardi Gras party with the lepers.
Another thing about today's saint that is seldom mentioned: Vincent de Paul was enslaved for a time to a Moslem master. Before that experience, he was a somewhat self-centered priest without much thought to ministry as self-giving. So you could say that to some degree his mission of mercy was prepared for by his own experience as a slave.
And today's Gospel? I think I'll write about that in a separate post. (This is getting too long!)

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