In a study of Marian spirituality and the Vincentian charism noted researcher Fr. Corpus Delgado offers many insights. Some of them might be quite surprising.
- The feast of the Assumption was not as widespread as today
- The era of Vincent de Paul was characterized by the reaction of Catholics to the reformers. Therefore, there were multiple and often exaggerated expressions of devotion to the Virgin Mary.
- In the more than eight thousand pages of his letters and conferences we find about two hundred references to the Virgin. Vincent de Paul only speaks about the Virgin in passing and then in a moderate manner.
- Vincent warned the confreres about sentimentality and the excesses in the expression of love to the Virgin Mary. He wrote to M. Lambert and stated: You would do well to get rid of that young woman [one of the “illuminatae” of Chinon]. Advise her not to amuse herself with all those notion she has … Neither Our Lord nor the Blessed virgin had all of those ideas, and they conformed to the common life (CCD:II:112).
- Yet, Vincent proposed Mary as a model: You should take the example of the Blessed Virgin (CCD:IX:72) because the Blessed Virgin, better than anyone else, fathomed the essence [of virtue] and showed how to practice them (CCD:XII:110). In his conferences and his letters he referred to various characteristics of Mary that should be imitated: her obedience to the will of God, her modesty and discretion, her sinlessness and humility and perfection and poverty, her perseverance and the fact that she referred to herself as the handmaid of the Lord and that she herself was called full of grace .
- Vincent de Paul focused his attention on three events, on three mysteries in Mary’s life: the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation, and the Visitation. These three mysteries constitute the letter and the spirit of her movement toward Christ and her life with God . Vincent’s contemplation of Mary is placed at the center of his spiritual universe: give oneself to God in order to serve God in the poor.
- In contrast to Vincent, we find many references to Mary in Louise’s correspondence and writings … at times these references are developed very systematically.
- It is most probable that Louise did not know her mother … she always looked upon Mary as her only mother.
- Mary, the only Mother of the Company – Louise entrusted that which she most cherished to the Blessed Virgin, her only Mother: her son and the Company of the Daughters of Charity. She wanted the Company to be consecrated to Mary and to view Mary as its only Mother.
The experience of the Vincentian Family from the perspective of the appearances to Saint Catherine Laboure
- Saint Catherine Laboure (1806-1876) and the message of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal has had a decisive influence on the life of all the groups of the Vincentian Family, more specifically it has influenced the orientation of their Marian spirituality.
- He points out that at the time of the apparitions to St. Catherine, the members of the Congregation of the Mission, as well as the Company of the Daughters of Charity and the Confraternities of Charity, were, for all practical purposes, dispersed and scattered about.
- The Miraculous Medal and the resulting Marian spirituality are decisive as we attempt to understand the rebirth of the Vincentian foundations.