Born April 24, 1581, in the region of Landes, Vincent de Paul was ordained a priest on September 23, 1600. St. Vincent is not only known as the champion of the poor but also of the rich, for he taught them to do works of mercy. During his early years as a priest, he worked as a chaplain for Queen Margaret de Valois and served as a tutor to the powerful de Gondi family. While ministering to the de Gondis family, however, Vincent began noticing the great inequities between the lots of the rich and the poor.
On January 25, 1617, he preached a sermon that was to become the founding statement of “the Congregation of the Mission.” In August of the same year Vincent established the first “Confraternity of Charity.” Both the order and the confraternity had missions of serving the poor and suffering.
After serving Christ for sixty years as a priest, Vincent de Paul died on September 27, 1660. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.
About the Shrine:
The church dedicated to Saint Vincent de Paul is in the chapel of the Vincentian Fathers. Upon entering the Church, you’ll notice the glass reliquary containing his body high above the main altar. It is an easy climb to the reliquary by a double stairway behind the altar, to venerate his relics.
When his body was first exhumed it appeared to be incorrupt but later flooding damaged the area where his body was placed and the body did decay. What you will see here is his skeleton covered with wax giving him a very realistic appearance. His heart was taken and is now in the Chapel of the Daughters of Charity at the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal.
There is a small gift shop here as well, open at irregular hours. They only speak French in the shop.
To reach the Shrine of Saint Vincent de Paul by Metro, get off at the Vaneau station which is on the same street as the shrine. Almost across the street from the Metro station is 95 Rue de Sevres, but it is hard to spot. From the outside it does not appear to be any different from many of the other buildings on the street (even knowing where it is, we have almost walked by it before), but inside you will find a beautiful church. There is a small plaque on the front door that might help you find it.
1. Personal visits.
2. Staff of the shrine.