Saint Vincent was born in 1576. He died in 1660. His charity embraced the poor, young and old, provinces desolated by civil war, Christians enslaved by the infidel. The poor man, ignorant and degraded, was to him the image of Him Who became as “a leper and no man.” “Turn the medal,” he said, “and you then will see Jesus Christ.” He went through the streets of Paris at night, seeking the children who were left there to die. Once robbers rushed upon him, thinking he carried a treasure, but when he opened his cloak, they recognized him and his burden, and fell at his feet. Not only was St. Vincent the savior of the poor, but also of the rich, for he taught them to do works of mercy.
The life of St. Vincent displayed nothing very austere as regarded its exterior; it was apparently an ordinary kind of life, but within there was universal mortification; his chamber was of the most simple and unfurnished description, his clothing of the poorest kind, often worn and patched; he wished to have the poorest kind of food given him, and paid no attention to what was put before him. When anything was wanting to him, he rejoiced at being able thereby to honor the poverty and destitution of Jesus Christ; and when the season was severe he would not accept anything calculated to afford him some alleviation. Lastly, nothing more than the restraint visible in his eyes, his speech, and his behavior was requisite in order to show how perfectly mortified he was. At the same time he excelled still more in interior mortification. He was so entirely his own master in all the movements of his soul that no annoyance of any kind could disturb his perfect equanimity. There was always the same serenity, in his manner of acting or of speaking the same reserve. Tribulation did not cast him down, or joy transport him, or reverses disconcert him, or success inebriate him, because in all things he saw nothing but the will of God, which was always the same to him in whatever disposition he might be.
In all things he considered God alone, without human respect, without regard to self-interest, without subterfuge, with a simple mind, a simple heart, a simple intention, language that was always sincere, even though shame might accrue to him from it; this is what the whole of his history attests.
Honored and revered as he was by all classes as the oracle of the Church in France and as the adviser of the Queen, he often spoke of the lowliness of his birth, and loved to recount how, in his youth he had guarded his father’s pigs.