Jose Maria Roman write...
The major biography of the nineteenth century was the work of Ulysées Maynard, canon of Poitiers, (1814-1893). He wrote, "Saint Vincent de Paul. Sa vie, son temps, ses oeuvres, son influence". (Paris, Retaux-Bray, 1860) in four volumes.
Maynard's work was published to celebrate the bicentenary of Vincent's death and was commissioned by the Superior General of the Mission, Fr. Jean Baptiste Étienne who placed the archives of Saint Lazare at the author's disposal. Maynard made a thorough study of the documents with the intention of producing a work that was original. His aim was to present Vincent de Paul against the great historical background of that era. On the whole he succeeded in doing this although he didn't always convey to the reader the relationship between the main character in the story and the world that Vincent lived in.
Maynard had skilfully managed to collect a vast amount material and this meant he was able to include a lot of additional information in his biography of Vincent. It is a pity that his critical faculties are not always on the same plane as his painstaking research. At times he quite arbitrarily alters information or he accepts as authentic, anecdotes which are more than a little dubious. The tone of the book very much reflects the nineteenth century taste for rhetoric with some lingering touches of romanticism. It continues to be an indispensible work of reference, especially with regard to certain Vincentian enterprises such as the relief work they carried out in devastated regions and various other undertakings.