One daily happening in my eight years in the major seminary, was the first five minutes of our breakfast meals when we heard read the stories of all the famous and not-at-all famous saints who died that day. Almost every short bio began with the words, “Although he or she was poor, they were of noble blood.”
It always surprised me that we were such a snobbish church. The church offered no path to education or advancement to ordinary people.
Today we honor the one exception to that. Vincent de Paul was one of seven children of a peasant in southern France. Somehow, he wiggled his way into a primary school operated by the Franciscans. Haven outshone all his gentile classmates, Vincent through many adventures, set out to make is way in the world.
Captured by pirates, he won freedom by converting his master. After forcing his way into the entourage of one great man after another, he finally earned the post of chaplain to a former queen of France.
Having won independence, he turned to his own peasant class, establishing the Vincentian Fathers for carry for their needs. Remembering his days as a captive of pirates, he established rest homes for galley slaves.
Vincent deserves credit for forcing the church to do away with the distinction between the nobility and serfs. He did this by reminding us of the nobility of all men and women made in the likeness of God.
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