Abelly’s classic biography of Vincent, published just 4 years after his death, is among the treasures being made available in easily accessible fashion in the reference shelf of the Vincentian Encyclopedia. It has the advantage of being written by a man who knew Vincent personally and could draw on contacts with others who had known him.

This in spite of obvious attempts to fit into preconceived categories of holiness and altering Vincent’s writing style according to Thomas Davitt in an overview of the biographies of Vincent.

“Abelly’s book was published in 1664, four years after Vincent’s death. It has several defects. In quoting from Vincent’s letters or conferences he often changed paragraphs, sentences or words, because he regarded Vincent’s style as lacking in literary quality. He also had a preconceived idea of what a holy priest should be like, and he tried to fit Vincent into this framework. He gives the impression that Vincent was a saint from childhood, and he omits any thing which he considered unsuitable for the pre-conceived image which he had.

On the other hand there are two important positive aspects of Abelly’s book. First, he was writing about a man whom he had known personally. Because of this we get glimpses of the real Vincent. Second, Abelly was able to draw on the memories and impressions of other people who had known Vincent personally, especially Brother Bertrand Ducournau, one of Vincent’s secretaries.”


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