Letter of Saint Vincent de Paul,
Written by Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660),
Written in 1648,
Ink on paper,
© SCN Archival Center collection
Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul
Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and let none of you take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, let it be from there. As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and healing everywhere.
Reflection on the Manuscript Letter
Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Vincent de Paul. It ties in beautifully with the Gospel reading of today where the disciples are being sent out to proclaim the Good News from village to village. That is what the Saint Vincent de Paul Societies (SVP) are doing throughout the world, in over 86 countries, proclaiming the Good News, providing love and care for the least among us all.
Saint Vincent (1581-1660) was a very prolific writer. He wrote over 30,000 letters in his lifetime. Until 1645 he wrote the letters himself; during the last 15 years of his life, he dictated them. By the 18th century 7,000 letters had already been published. The contents range from the very mundane, where Vincent shares that he simply has nothing to write and has nothing to say, to very strongly worded letters in opposition to Jansenism, a then-popular movement that was on the rise throughout Europe. The bulk of his letters, however, were written as beautiful Christian messages of charity, hope and love. He wrote letters to countries around the world, from Europe, North Africa, as far away as Madagascar.
I share with you a letter written by Saint Vincent on 7 July 1648. Whilst it is always nice to see the handwriting of the saints, it is mainly how he signs off (below his name) which is beautiful. He writes: 'Vincens Depaul, Unworthy priest of the Mission'.
To all the Vincentian missionaries, Daughters of Charity and lay Vincentians throughout the world, a very happy Feast day.
Saint Vincent, pray for us.
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