Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)
The image of this great saint, pacing the streets of Paris, seeking out beggars or abandoned children, traversing the French countryside, plagued by famine, war and poverty, is a very familiar one. Monsieur Vincent is just as well-known for his works: founding the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity and the Ladies of Charity. But does anyone know that this man of action drew his inspiration and strength from an intense life of prayer? He used to devote three hours of every day to prayer. He was canonised in 1737.
Blessed Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853)
At the age of 20, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and his companions founded the first Conference of charity in Paris, in 1833, at a time of great political instability and social misery, in response to criticisms about the “uselessness” of religion. All his life, he remained faithful to this commitment, intended to “keep them firm in their Catholic faith”. As holder of the Chair in Foreign Literature at the Sorbonne, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam tried to show through his historical writings “the long and laborious education provided by the Church to the modern world”. In his political commitment and the rest of his work, he denounced the excesses of a changing society, while calling on the Church to take its place in the service of the outcast, so that “charity might do what justice alone cannot do”. Frédéric Ozanam died of exhaustion at the age of 40. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997.