St. Vincent of Paul and The Forsaken Children

December 4, 2014

St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac and children

St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac and children

At the time when St. Vincent lived there existed in France a cruel custom, which seems to us almost incredible. Every year in the streets of Paris alone from three to four hundred newly-born infants were left to perish. Their unnatural mothers, who might already have had a number of little ones to support, would do this to get rid of them.

St. Vincent was grieved beyond measure at the sad fate of these helpless little ones. “With God s assistance,” he said, “I will be a father to them, since their own parents have cast them out. Then he assembled together a number of ladies full of zeal and charity like himself, and with their help he succeeded in rescuing an immense multitude of these children. A house was procured for the purpose of being a home to them, and these good ladies took care of them and brought them up.

St. Vincent de Paul with SistersEvery year their number increased, and soon became too numerous for the money they had in hand for their support. But Providence seemed visibly to help those who were thus labouring for His little ones; and as the children they collected into their home of charity increased in number, so likewise did their resources increase in proportion.

St. Vincent was the heart and soul of this good work. Often was he to be seen in the winter-time going about during the night when snow and ice covered the streets, looking for these poor castaways. And when he found any he would take them in his arms, and try to warm them by putting them under his cloak, and keeping them close to his bosom.

St. Vincent de Paul searching for infants in the snow.

St. Vincent de Paul searching for infants in the snow.

Then he would carry them to his good ladies, the Sisters of Charity, who would take care of them.

On one occasion, about midnight, he was going along the streets looking as usual for poor infants.

That night he had found three. As he was proceeding homeward in the dark with his burden under his cloak, a number of armed robbers came upon him and ordered him to stop.

“Your money or your life!” cried out one of them, brandishing a dagger before the holy man’s face.

Vincent de Paul holds sleeping infant, wrapped in blanket“Alas!” said the Saint calmly, “I have nothing that I can give you; I have here three little infants whom I found in the street; they are dying of want and hunger, and I am bringing them home to take care of them.”

“Ah, I know who you are, then,” said the robber. “You must be the holy man Vincent.” Then all the robbers went down on their knees and asked him for his blessing. When they received it, they rose up and escorted him to his house, so that no one might dare to interfere with him or molest him.


The Catechism in Examples Vol. 5, Pg. 84-86 by Rev. D. Chisholm

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 443


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