Vincent de Paul at Clichy
In May 1612, with the support of Pierre de Bérulle, Vincent de Paul took up the position of Parish Priest of Clichy, a small town of some 600 people, just to the northwest of Paris. Though he spent only a little over a year in residence in this Parish, he remained the Parish Priest of Clichy officially until 1626. It was at Clichy that he first came in contact with the ordinary people of the countryside, and experienced their religious faith. From the Parish of Clichy, he moved to live with the de Gondi family in Paris, to tutor their sons, and act as chaplain to the family. Mme de Gondi (Marguerite de Silly) became an important figure in Vincent's life, and later was instrumental in causing him to set up the Congregation of the Mission.
Clichy itself has become a suburb of Paris. A remnant of the parish Church of Vincent's time now forms a part of the present day Church at Clichy - the apse of the old Church joins the left aisle of the modem Church. The picture at the top of this page, right, shows the Clichy Church today. The picture at the left shows a window in this Church, and depicts Vincent Baptising.
The Clichy Church can be reached conveniently using the Paris Metro.
Points of Interest
Fr John Rybolt CM, in his article Clichy-la-Garonne, (listed below in Further Resources), writes -
"In or near the old church the following are noteworthy:
(1) The baptismal font at which the saint presided at baptisms; it bears the date 1612, and was certainly commissioned by him for the parish. (2) The pulpit is regarded as the one where he preached. (3) A crucifix which is said to have belonged to him is preserved at the left of the main altar in an alcove. (4) A statue of the saint in white marble, a work of the noted sculptor Alexandre Falguiere (1831-1900). (5) A plaque with the names of the founders of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, who came to the parish church to dedicate their work to the saint on 20 July 1834. (6) An old tree (now dead) in the garden, supposedly planted by the saint. (7) A mural painting of the saint in front of the church, to the left of the entry. The stained glass in the old church was destroyed in a hail storm on 11 July 1823. (8) A reliquary which used to contain bone from the saint's right arm. It has been stolen.
The new church, too, has interesting features:
(I) The stained glass windows, some of which depict scenes from his life not pictured elsewhere, such as his help during the 1652 flood of the Seine. It was particularly severe at Gennevilliers down river from Clichy. The depiction, however, is more symbolic than real, since Vincent did not actually come in a boat to distribute food in person. He sent his confreres instead. Another window depicts the first meeting of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac at the chateau of Clichy. This is a pious invention. (2) The modern picture of the saint, depicted as seated. His large charitable hands are a main feature of this canvas. (3) A modern statue of the saint, outside facing the street."
Clichy Wikipedia article.
Clichy-la-Garonne, "Vincentian Paris", John Rybolt, FamVin Website