What Did St. Vincent Do For Refugees and Street Homeless?

by | Sep 24, 2020 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections | 1 comment

Continuing the presentation of Fr. Robert Maloney’s research into the amazing facts of St. Vincent’s many initiatives with regard to the homeless…

Housing for refugees and people fleeing war

Reflecting on Vincent’s accomplishments in Lorraine, the historian Bernard Pujo concluded:

This support for Lorraine is remarkable for more than the amount of aid distributed and the number of suffering people helped. It was the first attempt at organized assistance for a whole endangered region. Without having received any specific charge, Vincent de Paul assumed the role of a secretary of state for refugees and war victims. Going far beyond the responsibilities expected of him as superior of the Congregation of the Mission, he placed himself, on his own initiative, in a national role.

Beginning in 1639, Vincent succeeded in supplying Lorraine with help amounting to more than 60 million dollars and more than 38,000 yards of various fabrics. He raised funds initially from the Ladies of Charity and eventually obtained contributions from the highest authorities.  King Louis XIII made a gift of $1,800,000.

(Notice that trust in him led people of wealth trusting him with aid!)

Shelter, clothing, and food  for those living on the streets of Paris

Vincent wrote to one of his priests, describing the situation,

“We have more troubles here than ever. Paris is swarming with poor persons because the armies have forced the poor country folk to seek refuge here. Meetings are held daily to see how they can be helped. A few houses have been rented in the outlying districts where some of them have been housed, particularly poor girls.”

The “Name of Jesus Hospice” – Feeding thousands each day!

Vincent, at the age of 72, was running massive relief programs, providing soup twice a day for thousands of poor people at Saint-Lazare and feeding thousands of others at the houses of the Daughters of Charity. He organized collections, gathering each week 5-6 thousand pounds of meat, 2-3 thousand eggs, and provisions of clothing and utensils.  He provided lodging for the displaced.

(Notice how he addressed immediate needs)

1 Comment

  1. jim claffey

    Thanks Mike for this post. Always a source of inspiration to look at what St Vincent could accomplish amid ever-growing needs of all kinds with constant increases of people in poverty, no matter his age, for his dedication and organizing ability seemed only to grow with each new challenge.