Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac, the administrators Excerpts from an article by Robert Maloney, CM

St. Vincent was realistic, practical. He believed that, without a solid economic base, the Congregation and the Daughters of Charity could not carry out their missions.

He said that he never accepted the proposal of “persons who have only the desire and do not wish to meet the costs” (SV VII, 208)! If the missionaries were to perform their services gratis, then they had to count on a financial base in the form of some kind of a fund or a source of regular income.

Vincent was remarkably creative in putting together foundations in order to support houses, missions, and other works. Funds for supporting our mission and our missionaries came from benefices, from the rights to claim taxes and duties, from wills, from properties, from donations, from coach-route businesses, and other sources. Among his most generous benefactors were King Louis XIII and his widow, as well as the Duchess d’Aiguillon. Strange as it may sound to us today, the main source of income for the missions in Algeria and Tunis was coach-route businesses in Chartres, Rouen, Orleans, Soissons, and Bordeaux.

In recent years, several writers have studied this subject; notable among these are José-María Román and Bernard Pujo.

Here is a list of Vincent’s foundations in the Congregation of the Mission:

  • 1625
    • Collège des Bons Enfants à Paris
  • 1632
    • St. Lazare
  • 1635
    • Toul
  • 1637
    • Aiguillon
    • La Rose
  • 1638
    • Richelieu
    • Lucon
    • Troyes
    • Alet
    • Annecy
  • 1641
    • Crécy
  • 1642
    • Rome
  • 1643
    • Marseille
    • Cahors
    • Sedan
  • 1644
    • Saintes
    • Montmirail
  • 1645
    • Le Mans
    • Saint Charles (Paris)
    • Genoa
    • Tunis
  • 1646
    • Algiers
  • 1648
    • Madagascar
    • Tréguier
    • Agen
  • 1650
    • Périgueux
  • 1651
    • Poland
  • 1652
    • Montauban (Notre Dame de Lorm)
  • 1654
    • Turin
    • Agde
  • 1658
    • Meaux
  • 1659
    • Montpellier
    • Narbonne

As you can see, Vincent founded, on the average, about a house a year between 1635 and 1659. That was a remarkable pace for someone who by all accounts moved slowly and never “stepped on the heels of providence.” But what is all the more remarkable is that he set up a foundation for the support of each of these houses. It is interesting to note that the geographical distribution of these foundations follows principally the locations of the pastoral and financial interests of St. Vincent’s most important contacts.

Here is a list of Vincent and Louise’s foundations for the Daughters of Charity:

Paris Houses

  • 1633
    • Principal House, rue des Fossés St Victor
  • 1634
    • Hospice for incurable women
  • 1635
    • St. Paul, school
    • Foundlings
  • 1641
    • Principal House, St. Laurent Parish, across from St. Lazare
  • 1643
    • St. Laurent
    • Holy Name of Jesus Hospice
    • St. Louis en l’Ile
    • Bel-Air, orphans
    • Saint Sauveur
    • Child Jesus, Notre Dame Hospice
    • St. André des Arts
    • St. Cosme
    • St. Jean en Grève
    • St. Martin
    • St. Nicolas
    • St. Marguerite
    • St. Etienne du Mont
  • 1655
    • the insane, Hospital of the Little Houses
    • St. Sulpice

War Zones served

  • around 1649 Picardy
  • 1641 & 1653 Sedan
  • around 1652 Étampes and elsewhere
  • 1653 Châlons and St. Menehould
  • 1657 Montmédy
  • 1658 Calais

Houses Outside of Paris

  • 1638
    • Richelieu
  • 1639
    • Angers Hospital
    • Sedan
  • 1641
    • Nanteuil
  • 1636/45
    • Liancourt
  • 1638/45
    • St. Germain en Laye
  • 1645
    • Morée Hospice
    • Saint Denis
    • Serqueux
  • 1646
    • Nantes
    • Fontainebleau
  • 1647
    • Chars
    • Montmirail
    • Montreuil
    • Chantilly
  • 1648
    • Dourdan
  • 1649
    • Fontenay aux Roses
  • 1650
    • Hennebonn
  • 1652
    • Brienne
    • Warsaw, Poland
    • Varize
    • Rueil
  • 1654
    • St. Fargeau
    • Châteaudun
    • Lublé
    • Videlles
    • Ste. Marie du Mont
  • 1655
    • Houilles
    • Bernay
    • La Roche Guyon
  • 1656
    • Arras
    • La Fère
    • Attichy
  • 1657
    • Cahors
  • 1658
    • Ussel
    • Metz
  • 1659
    • Narbonne
  • 1660
    • Moutiers St. Jean
    • Gex
    • Belle-Isle
    • Alençon

As you can see, Vincent and Louise founded, on the average, about two houses a year between 1633 and 1660. That was even more remarkable than the pace for founding the houses of the Congregation of the Mission. As with the Congregation of the Mission, foundations were set up to support the houses of the Daughters of Charity, and their geographical distribution followed principally the locations of the pastoral and financial interests of St. Vincent’s and St. Louise’s most important contacts. Vincent and Louise were good beggars and good negotiators.

Vincent recognized that Louise was an excellent administrator. He tells the Daughters’ General Council in 1655: “You have not had a superior who let the house go to ruin; on the contrary, she collected what was necessary to have a house. So you must thank God for having put you in such a state. I do not know of any house of sisters which is in your condition. No, I tell you, I do not know of any in Paris, and that, after God, is through the good administration of Mademoiselle.”

There is much more that one could say about St. Vincent as an administrator. In recent years, many contracts have been discovered in recent years that throw light on the question. For example, it is estimated that, during the relief work in war-stricken Lorraine, Vincent succeeded, over the course of ten years, in bringing help amounting to more than 1,500,000 livres, as well as 33,000 meters of various fabrics. Historians estimate that the livres come to roughly $60,000,000 in today’s currency.

That was just in Lorraine. If one adds to that the house of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity and the many other enterprises that Vincent was supporting, the sums of money that Vincent administered were huge.

Online sources

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