Life of St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Congregation of the Mission and of the Sisters of Charity (02)

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoVincent de Paul

CREDITS
Author: Pierre Collet, C.M. · Translator: A catholic clergyman. · Year of first publication: 1866.
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Book Second

Those who have paid most attention to the history of Pa­ris agree, that the house of St. Lazarus is very ancient. It must have been very considerable in early times, since the kings of France, on ascending the throne, made it their abode for some weeks, in order to receive the oath of allegiance from all orders of citizens. In the course of years, St. Lazarus be­came the asylum of those who were attacked with the leprosy, a terrible disease, and so common until the twelfth century, that in christendom there were found more than nineteen thousand hospitals for those who were infected with it.

The hospital of St. Lazarus had in its constitution some­thing very singular. They received there only citizens born in lawful wedlock and within the four principal gates of Paris. This rule admitted of no exception but in favor of the bakers, who being more subject to this terrible malady on ac­count of the fire, were admitted from any part of the king­dom. No one, however, was received without having pre­viously made a vow of obedience to the first director of the house, who enjoyed as his own, all the possessions moveable and real, of every sick person after his death.

In spite of the revolutions which, after having raised com­munities to a certain point, insensibly degrade them after­wards, the house of St. Lazarus was still in the time of our saint one of the most considerable in Paris. Eight regular canons occupied it by commission. Adrien Le Bon, their su­perior, had with them one of those contests, which, although sometimes necessary, are not the less disagreable. After many conferences and some regulations which resulted in nothing, the prior thought only of leaving a place, where, with the best intentions in the world, he only suffered and caused others to suffer. But as he was a pious man, and as he happened at that very time to hear of the good that Vincent was doing, he thought, that, if he could induce him to take his house, he would render an important service to the church. He spoke on the matter to Mr. de Lestocq, curate of St. Law­rence, his neighbor and intimate friend.

That pious and learned doctor, who having been occasion­ally associated with our saint in the country missions, had been an eye-witness to the services of every kind, which Vincent rendered to all, took great care to confirm the prior in his reso­lution. He told him repeatedly, that it came from the Holy Ghost. He spoke to him at length of Vincent of Paul and his priests, and said every thing advantageous of them.

Such favorable information would have been sufficient to determine a man not so well disposed as Mr. Le Bon. The two friends set out immediately. The prior proposed his plan without delay. Ile told Vincent of Paul in a few words, that he had received a very flattering account of his congregation and its charitable employments; that he would be happy to contribute to its prosperity; and that he was ready to yield his house and all its dependencies to concur in such an excellent work.

A proposition so advantageous surprised or rather alarmed the servant of God; and although he could generally master his feelings, yet, his trouble tnanifested itself in a tremor, which the prior of St. Lazarus perceived. He asked of him the cause of it. Vincent replied with much modesty, that his proposition was so far above his merits and those of his priests, that he scrupled thinking of it. He continued to ex­press himself in a manner so positive, and combatted so powerfully the most pressing arguments, that Mr. Le Bon lost at first all hopes of making him change his opinion. Yet the mildness of the holy’priest, the piety, the charm of his con­versation affected the prior so much, that the desire of exe­cuting his design, became stronger in proportion to the obsta­cles he met with. This induced him, when he was about to retire, to tell the saint that the offer which he was making well merited his attention, and that he gave him six months to think of it.

It was probably in this interval, that bur saint gave two striking proofs of his humility. The archbishop of Paris, who, in many things rested upon him, having called him to a great assembly held in his palace, reprimanded him rather harshly, on the subject of a mission which he thought Vin­cent had neglected. The latter, after the example of the Royal Prophet, said not a word to justify himself; and although. he was then more than fifty years old, he went on his knees, like a young novice before the master, and he begged his pardon for a fault of which he was not guilty. This con­duct which at first created surprise, did not tail to give great edification; but there .was much more cause for admiration, when it was known that he had, performed, and well per­formed the mission which the prelate had accused him of flaying neglected. André Duval, that famous doctor who was always so intimate with our saint, could not help ex­claiming before the whole assembly, that it was difficult to find one in whom there was more virtue than Vincent.

The second occasion in which the holy priest showed his humility, was furnished him by one of his nephews. The servant of God was in his room, when the porter announced to him that there was a countryman below, who called him­self his nephew, and desired to speak with him. Nature suf­fered a little at this moment. The saints themselves have to struggle as long as they are men, and they are men to the last breath. Vincent at first begged one of his companions to go and receive this relation; but he overcame himself on the spot; he even went into the street where his nephew had re­mained; he embraced him tenderly, took him by the hand, and having introduced him into the house, he called all his priests and told them that he was the best man of his family. He did still more: he presented this poor relation to all the respectable persons who came to visit him.

So complete a victory over the demon of pride did not ap­pear to him sufficient, and during the first retreat which he made with his company, he accused himself publicly of having had so much pride is to wish to introduce his nephew se­cretly into his room, because he was a countryman and badly dressed. It is the same Mr. de Saint Martin, canon of Acqs, of whom we have already spoken, who preserved this cir­cumstance so glorious to our saint. He then lived at the col­lege des Bons Enfans, and was there at the time when this happened. However, this poor young man, who, on his ar­rival in Paris, believed his fortune to be made, was much de­ceived in his expectations. The holy priest had made a com­pact with his own heart; and he always kept it on. its guard against the illusions of flesh and blood. He sent his nephew home on foot, as he had come, giving him only ten crowns for his journey; he even begged them as an alms from the marchioness of Maignelai; and this is the only time he asked aid for any of his family.

If these virtuous actions came to the knowledge of the prior of St. Lazarus, they could not hut inspire him with a new desire to complete the affair which he had undertaken. How­ever this may be, he did not fail, at the end of the time he had appointed, to visit the college des Bons Enfans and re­double his efforts. Mr. de Lestocq, who again accompanied him, spoke at least as forcibly as he did. The servant of God remained firm and immovable. He. represented to them that an establishment so considerable could not fail to produce great sensation; that he had with him only a few priests; that his community was but beginning, and that he feared nothing more than to be spoken of.

The dinner hour, which arrived, suspended the contest. Mr. Le Bon was pleased to dine with the holy priest and his little community. The order preserved at table, the pious reading, the modesty and • frugality which he observed, charmed the prior. He conceived for the priests of the new congregation almost as much esteem as for their institutor; and more strengthened’than ever in his first design, he begged Mr. de Lestocq to continue his efforts and to allow neither peace nor truce to Vincent, until he at last should force him to consent to a proposition, which seemed so reasonable.

The affair could not be trusted to a man more eager for its success. The curate of St. Lawrence was a particular friend of Vincent of Paul, and he desired nothing more ar­dently, than to have hint for his neighbor. He paid him more than twenty visits in the space of six months, and made use of all the motives that piety and reason can suggest. Nothing could shake the servant of God. Humility and abjection were his favorite virtues. Any arrangement that might have re­moved him from the situation in which Providence appeared to have placed him, seemed to him suspicious and filled with danger. At the end of a year, Mr. Le Bon and his friends were no farther advanced than on the first day; and entreaties repeated more than thirty times, far from conquering the re­pugnance of Vincent, had not even induced him to go and see the house which was offered him. It was because he feared lest his hear( might become the dupe of his eyes,•and that the situation and advantages of the new establishment might appear to him a sufficient reason for accepting it.

At last the prior of St. Lazarus, tired at his want of suc­cess, said one day to the holy priest with some emotion: ” you are, sir, a very strange man. There is not a person who wishes you well that is not desirous of your acceptance of the offer made you. In such matters it is not wise to rely entirely upon ourselves. ‘iVhat friend have you in Paris whosé coun­sels you follow most readily? I will have recourse to him; and provided he thinks as you do, I will cease my endea­vors.” Vincent; who had nothing to answer to so just a pro­posal, pointed out Mr. Duval. That pious and learned doc-. tor was, since the death of Mr. de Bérulle, the director of our saint, and it was very evident, on this occasion, that he did nothing of importance without having consulted him.

Mr. Le Bon was delighted with this discovery. He was convinced he would not find the difficulties in the Sorbonne which he had encountered at the college des Bons Enfans. In fact, every thing succeeded according to his wish. Mr. Duval himself settled the conditions of the contract. That article, which is commonly so litigious, was not the cause of a mo­ment’s delay. The doctor knew the liberality of the holy priest, and perhaps he granted to the prior more than he asked.

The affair seemed concluded, when an unforeseen incident threatened to break’ it off. Mr. Le Bon, who was a solidly virtuous man, thought that be ought to stipulate that his re­ligious should lodge in the same dormitory with the missiona­ries, supposing that the latter would experience no inconve­nience from it, and that the former, influenced by the good example they would have before their eyes, would by degrees be induced to imitate it.

A superior less experienced than our saint, would not have hesitated with regard to an article which seemed of so little importance, and was presented in so advantageous a light. But Vincent, who saw principles and their consequences at a glance, judged differently. He feared lest the complaisance and regard which we naturally have for our benefactors, would be an obstacle to the spiritual good of his little flock. Hence, without losing time, he begged of Mr. de Lestocq to rep­resent to the prior of St. Lazarus, that it was the rule of the priests of the missions to keep silence from evening prayers un­til the following.day after dinner; that they were then allowed an hour for conversatioo, after which silence was again to be kept until the evening; that supper was followed by another hour of recreation, alter which silence was resumed; that, moreover, this silence was very rigorous, and only broken in a low voice and in cases of necessity; that these practices, which are often considered trifles, were looked upon by him as essential, and that he was persuaded that they could not be neglected without introducing disorder and confusion into communities. Hence our saint concluded that it was to be feared lest the religious of Mr. Le Boo, who had not been ac customed to such rigorous discipline, who probably would not be able to accustom themselves to it, would by degrees teach the missionaries themselves to relax in a point, the negligenceofwhich would bring on that of many others. The prior, who understood better than any other, the justice of these observations, yielded the point.

In consequence of the agreement, whicb was completed on the seventh of January 1632, Vincent took possession of the house of.St. Lazarus. The archbishop of Paris, Jean François de Gondi, did him the honor to install him. As they had the consent of the provost of the merchants, of the ma­gistrates, and of all those who might be interested in the af­fair, it was not thought that they would have any obstacle to encounter. But it was just, that Vincent, who during fifteen months had almost wearied the patience of Mr. Le Bon, should have his own a little tried.

The king having caused the letters patent for this donation to by expedited, a certain religious community; which had a great influence and powerful friends, opposed itself to their being registered, and pretended that the house of St. Lazarus belonged to it. This incident only served to display the ex­alted virtue of our holy priest, and above all, his disinterested­ness and charity,. Whilst the cause was discussed, he re­mained in prayer in the chapel, and he begged of God, not to make him gain the cause, if he ought to lose; but to preserve in his heart a perfect submission to the orders of Providence.

We must acknowledge, however, that, at the commence­ment of this opposition, one thing gave him trouble, in case he,would lose his cause. The reader would not easily, ima­gine it; for, what afflicts the saints, is not generally a source of affliction to others. Mr. Le Bon had received in his house three or four insane persons, to the great satisfaction of their relatives. Vincent, who Considered himself entrusted with the care of all the wretched, begged as a favor, on arriv­ing at St. Lazarus, that they should be confided to him. It would be difficult to express with what chârity he caused them to be treated; he even waited upon them himself. The more untractable among them were those to whom he conse­crated himself with less reserve. The more nature had to suffer from these filthy, troublesome, and often dangerous men, the better he was satisfied. One day that he was examining before God, what would cause him pain, in case he should have to leave the house, nothing disquieted him bat the fear of being unable to render the same services to these poor madmen. The convenience of a lordly house situated at the gates of Paris, the property annexed to it, the facility it would afford hisrisiog congregation, all these advantages appeared nothing to him in comparison with the pleasure he took in honoring our Lord in his infirm members, whom every one repels, and who do not find any asylum, even in their own houses.

At last God recompensed the disinterestedness and humility of his servant by a favorable sentence. The religious of St. Victor did not esteem him the less, and they acknowledged with the rest of France, that the house of St. Lazarus, in be­coming the patrimony of the holy man, had become the pa­trimony of the poor.

The criminals condemned to the gallies were the first to feel the effect of the charity which this new establishment enabled the saint to exercise more extensively. We have already seen what he did for them both at Paris and Marseilles. We shall now see him do things much more important. But here, as on many other occasions, we must be contented with the first epochs. Otherwise it would be impossible to avoid confusion in a history crowded with events, and in which every week, to say no more, saw an astonishing number of glorious enter­prises arise, which could be fully executed only in the course of several years.

The galley slaves, being now transported by the care of Vincent of Paul in the neighborhood of St. Roch, were there as well as their situation alluwed. But, as they had only a rented house, and mightbe dislodged under various pre­texts, our saint who was accustomed to prevent inconve­niences, thought of the means of procuring for them a hospi­tal which might be theirs for ever. That he might not miss his aim, he applied to the king himself, and obtained from him for those unhappy men an ancient tower between the Seine and the gate of St. Bernard. The care, or rather the charge of the spiritual and temporal administration of this new es­tablishment rested almost entirely upon him alone for many years.

With regard to spiritual matters, he directed those of his priests who lived at the college des Bons Enfans, to visit fre­quently the galley slaves, to say mass for them every day, to instruct them, hear their confessions, and console them. He afterwards yielded up this employment to the priests of the parish, with a salary of five hundred livres, which his own priests had never received.

Madame Le Gras, who was always ready to listen to, and put in practice, the language of charity, took upon herself most cheerfully the care of temporal matters. She often went to see. them and rendered them every good office. Vincent encouraged, by the example of this pious widow, other respec­table ladies, to contribute to this good work; but he helped-it along more than any one else, and it was to him principally that the galley slaves owed their maintenance and nourish­ment, during the first eight or ten years they remained in this new abode. At last, Providence secured for them permanent succors, proportioned in some measure to their wants. A very rich person bequeathed them before dying a yearly income of six hundred livres; and this legacy, which at first cost our saint many contradictions, was finally executed.

His tenderness for the galley slaves was not satisfied with the services of which we have just spoken. He endeavored to relieve them in the very point, in which they had most to suffer. What afflicted him above all, wuen he was at Mar­seilles, was the pitiful state of those who fell sick. Always in chains, devoured by vermin, overwhelmed with pains, almost eaten up with corruption and infection, these living corpses already experienced the horrors of the grave. Vincent could not see, without deep emotion, men formed – to the image of God, christians redeemed with the blood of Jesus Christ, dy­ing like brutes. But he was obliged to have patience; for the disturbed state of the kingdom did not yet allow him to act.

When things appeared a little more calm, the holy priest addressed himself to cardinal of Richelieu, because in ad­dition to one of his relations being general of the gallies, he shared’ with the duchess of Aiguillon, his niece, the senti­ments of esteem which she always had for the institutor of the mission. Vincent, with those pathetic expressions which could scarcely be resisted, represented to him the horrible con­dition in which the galley slaves at Marseilles were, when sick, and the necessity of forming an hospital for them. Jean Baptiste Gauld, bishop of Marseilles, and the chevalier de Simiane, both distinguished by ,their very rare virtues, united with our saint in soliciting the prime minister. Richelieu, who was fond of projects in which there was any thing grand, obtained the consent of the king; the hospital was huilt on the same spot where Philip de Gondi had laid the foundation when Vincent lived in his house. Louis XIV afterwards as­signed it an annual revenue of twelve thousand livres from the taxes of the province. There are three hundred beds, and it is one of the most beautiful and commodious houses of the kingdom. It was still incomplete, when Mr. de Simiane Wrote to our saint that the hand of God manifested itself there, not only by the conversion of bad christians, but in that of several Mahometans; and that the latter moved by the charity shown them, paid homage to a religion which in Jesus Christ makes but one people of all the nations of the universe.

To enable•Vincent and the missionaries better to continue the good which they had commenced doing to the galley slaves, the young king confirmed to him in 1644 the charge of almoner general, and he did so in a style which shows the universal esteem in which he was held at court. The duchess of Aiguillon took part in so good a work, and by a capital of fourteen thousand livres she founded missions for the galleys for every five years. Thus it was that a poor priest set in mo­tion the first persons of the state, in order to procure for wretched beings, whom he looked upon as his brethren, all the aids of the most tender charity. His zeal, which knew neither difficulties nor bounds, soon prompted him to form a much more extensive project, by means of which he at last discovered the secret of relieving in every part of France, and even in foreign countries, an infinite number of unfortu­nate beings, who had neither resources nor consolation. But before entering upon this great event, which forms one of the richest portions of his history, I must speak of the service which he rendered the church by the establishment of the eo- clesiastical conferences. To understand well what we have to say on this subject, it will be necessary to go back a little.

Vincent, in his missions, had not confined himself to the salvation of the people; he had also attended to the sanctifi­cation of the pastors, who were not all at that time models of virtue. When he found some in a district, whose hearts God opened to his counsels, he instructed them in the manner of preaching the word of God, catechising the children, hearing confessions, and administering the other sacraments with fruit. These first essays induced the saint to believe, that, if regular conferences could be established, they would perhaps have in France the success which they formerly had in the deserts of Thebais But as he always distrusted much his own ideas, he was contented with praying, and he waited for the mo­ment which Providence would choose. It arrived sooner per­haps than he expected. A pious man, who had much pro­fited by the exercises given to the ordinands, and wished to preserve the fruit of his retreat, proposed to him to assemble from time to time a number of ecclesiastics, to confer together on the means of sanctifying themselves as well as their breth­ren.

A proposal so conformable to the ideas of Vincent of Paul could not be but agreeable to him. Yet before undertaking any thing, he again consulted God for about fifteen days, and having been’convinced that this new sort of exercises would greatly contribute to the glory of his holy name, he made the proposition to the archbishop of Paris, who considered it his duty to approve it. Armed with the powers of his superior, and soon afterwards with those of the sovereign pontiff, whose consent, through the profound respect which he enter­tained for the holy see, he.was always in the habit of asking, even when it was not necessary, he thought of nothing but of choosing proper subjects to begin the new association. He soon found them. Several good priests, who honored him as their father, some of whom had just given missions in Anjou, or were giving one to a great number of laborers em ployed in building the church of the Visitation, entered inta his views with pleasure; and the first assembly was held shortly afterwards in the bouse of St. Lazarus. At this mee­ting, Vincent proposed his plan, the end of which was to honor the Son of God, his eternal priesthood, his love for the poor, and his zeal for the salvation of the people. This pro­ject, in which every thing was holy, was received with great applause. On that very day, the necessity of the ecclesiastical spirit and the means of preserving it were proposed as the subject of the first conference. All spoke with solidity, but with great simplicity. The holy priest had foreseen that this exercise would become useless to them, should they affect to deliver eloquent or studied discourses. It is nOt that he wished them to speak at random; be required on the con­trary a proper preparation. But simplicity was his rule, and he would not suffer any one to deviate from it, except when the matter to be treated required particular preparation. Hence there have been seen at these conferences the greatest geniuses of Europe speaking the simplest language, despising what St. Paul calls the vain persuasion of human wisdom, and al­ways choosing between two expressions that which, being less flattering to human pride, was most calculated to edify, touch the heart and incline it to God.

The saint ‘gave them the example; but as he knew the scripture very well, and had above all a singular talent for selecting the examples and words of the Son of God, which had reference to his subject, he developed his sentiments with so much grace and unction, that the illustrious Bossuet, who heard him at an age naturally disposed to criticism, said forty two years after the death of the saint, that he might take our Lord to witness, that he had found in Vincent of Paul, that rare minister who speaks of God in a manner so full of wis­dom and so exalted, that God himself appears to speak by his mouth1. Such doubtless would be the testimony that would haave been rendered him by a Godeau, a Perrochel, an Olier, a Pavillon and so many others who went from one end of Pa­ris to the other, to hear him, had they been living when the work of his beatification commenced.

The Tuesday assembly, or the conference of St. Lazarus (for it was known by these two names), soon became so cele­brated, that, according to a man who cannot be Auspected in this matter2, “there was not in Paris an ecclesiastic of merit that did not try to belong to it.” Every body was speaking with rapture of the regularity and indefatigable zeal of those who composed it. Cardinal de Richelieu, who was informed of it by the public voice, sent for Vincent, and spoke to him of it. The holy man gave him an account of the nature of the subjects discussed, and of the blessings which God began to give to them. That great minister appeared well satisfied. He exhorted the saint to continue his good works. He as­sured him of his protection, and asked him to come and see him from time to time. Before dismissing him, he wished to know the names of the ecclesiastics who attended this assem­bly, and which of them he considered best suited for the epis­copacy. When the servant of God had retired, the cardinal said to the duchess of Aiguillon his niece: “I had already a great idea of Vincent, but since our last interview, I have a’ much higher opinion of him.”

What cardinal de Richelieu had begun, Louis XIII com­pleted after the death of his minister. Father Binet, his con­féssor, asked, in his name, of the holy priest an exact account of the talents of those who assisted at the conferences. Vin­cent obeyed; but at the same time hé did what many others would have found some difficulty in doing. It is sufficiently evident, and he felt it himself, that if the good dispositions of the prince transpired in the slightest degree, some ecclesias­tics of the first rank might have ranged themselves under the banners of fervor. Vincent, who was a declared enemy to ambition, took the necessary measures to remove it. He knew how to engage a great king to secrecy, after having engagea to it a great minister. He observed it himself so inviolably that none ‘of those whose names he had mentioned, ever knew the designs which the court had on them; and at the very time that he looked upon them as at the heads of dio­cesses, he spoke to them of nothing but the happiness of liv­ing and dying in obscurity.

We do not intend to relate all the good of which the con­ference of St. Lazarus was the origin; still we cannot refrain from giving some idea of it. One of the first fruits it pro­duced, was to people the church with a great number of faith­ful ministers, who, being filled with the spirit by which our saint was animated, spread it through all the provinces. It was also from its bosom that rose, even during the life time of the saint, the pious and illustrious founders of the commu­nities of St. Sulpicius, and of the foreign misssions; twenty-three archbishops or bishops, who, for the most part, labored with as much courage as success in restoring to the church her primitive beauty; and a prodigious multitude of grand vi­cars, officials, archdeacons, curates, canons, directors of semi­naries or of religious, all of whom spread every where the good odor of Christ. The holy priest made of them a body of reserve, which he sent to the right and to the left, accord­ing as circumstances required. France, surprised and always edified, saw them devoting themselves with invincible ardor to the most arduous functions of the holy ministry. Some joined the children of Vincent of Paul, others undertook im= portant missions in the large cities, where the saint did not wish to send his priests. There was no rank or condition in the capital, that did not feel the impression of their zeal. The regiment of Guards, the Q,uinze-Vingts, the mechanics who were ignorant of the very elements of salvation, the beggars with whom Paris was then inundated, the hospital of la Piété, that which Vincent had procured for the galley slaves, and above al], the Hotel-Dieu, that is to say, the domestics, the sick, and the virgins who devoted themselves to their ser­vice; such were the objects that occupied them during more than fifty years.

Although the detail of so much good would certainly be most edifying, the nature of a work like this does not permit me to give it. I shall evert suppress the prodigious success, which those truly apostolical men had in a large town, where chicanery and iniquity, under the name of justice, held their court in taverns, and were there feeding upon the tears and the blood of the oppressed client. But as the mission which they made in the suburb of St. Germain, had something sin­gular in its circumstances, it is proper to speak of it some­what more at large.

This suburb was then the sink of the whole kingdom. The impious, the libertines, the atheists, all that was most wicked, seemed to have conspired to establish their abode there. Vice, by becoming multiplied, had made that place its strong hold. The guilty, on account of their number, lived with impunity; and impunity augmented daily the number of the guilty.

A virtuous lady, terrified at so many abominations, thought that a mission would stop their course. As all good people spoke to her With admiration of the one that Vincent was then giving, she endeavored to persuade him to give one also in this suburb. The saint resisted for some. time: but this lady, who was conducted by a superior light, redoubled her prayers with so much earnestness, that he thought at last that the spirit of God spoke by her mouth. He promised her that he would think of it, and he did it so seriously, that a few days after, he proposed to the ecclesiastics of his conference, to un­dertake that good work. The just deference which all the members of that holy assembly had fur the servant of God, did not prevent them from exclaiming against his proposition. Each one brought forward his reasons: they insisted particu­larly upun the impossibility of success. The conclusion was, that they ought not to think of it any more.

Vincent however thought of it again. He recommended it earnestly to our Lord. An interior answer strengthened him in his first opinion; and when these gentlemen assembled again, he told them in very strong terms, that he had every reason to believe that God required that service of them; that his grace was powerful enough to overcome every obstacle, and that he was persuaded that the enterprise would succeed in spite of the efforts of devils and men. The words of the holy priest did not, on this occasion, produce as much impres­sion as usual; he even perceived that his firmness had given pain to some of those who had most strongly supported the contrary opinion. His humility was alarmed. He went on his knees before the whole assembly, and asked pardon of the company for the vivacity with which he had renewed his proposition. He protested that he had done so only because he felt himself interiorly urged to do it, and believed that God demanded of their zeal this new proof of courage and love.

The sight of this worthy priest of Jesus Christ, prostrate at the feet of a great number of ecclesiastics, who all honored him as their father, had more effect upon them than any thing that lie could have said. The mission was at once unani­mously resolved upon, and those who had been most opposed to it, were now the first to urge it.

Before commencing they begged him to regulate himself every thing they would have to do. They represented to him particularly, that the simple and familiar discourses, which succeeded in the country, would he found ridiculous in a city, like Paris, and that as the enemies they wereg_oing to attack, were different from those with whom they had hitherto contended, it would be necessary to employ other arms than those which they had heretofore wielded.

These remarks, in which human prudence had some share, could. not please a man who, after the example of the apos­tle, would have thought it injurious to the power of the cross to rely upon purely natural means. He answered them that he was persuaded that the method which they had found to answer so well in all their other missions, was precisely the one which they ought to follow in the mission they were about to commence; that the spirit of the world which tri­umphed in the place, the conversion of which they were to undertake, could not be more powerfully assailed than by the spirit of Jesus Christ, which is a spirit of simplicity; that to en­ter into the sentiments of that divine Saviour, they must seek, like him, not their own glory, but that of his father; and that in speaking the language which the Son of God had em­ployed, they would be at least sure, that it was not they who spoke, hut Jesus Christ who spoke by them.

These counsels were received as if coming from an angel. Without another moment’s deliberation, they set to work. They were not long before perceiving that grace. worked with them. The simplicity and familiar style of their discourses, which they had thought would be the cause of their failure, was precisely that which multiplied the number of their hear­ers. Their apostolical manner of preaching moved a great part of their auditory. They were themselves surprised and delighted. They saw every day, and almost at every mo­ment, inveterate sinners, hardened usurers, • barefaced and shameless females, libertines who had grown old in the most infamous disorders, in fine, men who had been heretofore . without humanity, without honesty, without religion, without faith and without God, coming, with their eyes bathed in tears, and their hearts pierced with sorrow, to throw them­selves at their feet, crying aloud for mercy. The finger of God was so evidently with them, that it was impossible not to see its operation. Conversions so astonishing were made, that there was something miraculous in them. Injustice and hatred, the passions the most difficult to conquer, laid down their arms. In a word, the blessing of God was so abundant and so efficacious, that if we were to relate in detail the re­conciliations, restitutions, and every species of good produced by this mission, it would form matter enough for a volume; these are the expressions of the contemporaneous author who first wrote the life of our holy priest.

He adds, and nothing is better calculated to confirm his re­cital, that a citizen of Paris who had followed all the exer­cises of the mission, and who had been witness of the great good produced by it, was so much moved, that going to those worthy ecclesiastics, he told them that he had a property of seven or eight thousand livres of which he could dispose without injury to any one, and that he came to offer it and himself to serve them for the rest of his life, provided they would engage themselves to continue in other places the ex­ercises they had just finished in the parish of St. Sulpicius. These gentlemen, without accepting his offer, told him very affectionately, that they could not unite in the manner which he proposed, but that their intention was to spend the re­mainder of their life, in occupations very similar to those by which he had been so much edified, and that God, who knows how to value the dispositions of the heart, would certainly re­ward his good will. Such was the result of that famous mis­sion. Bossuet attributed to the prayers of Vincent of Paul the prodigious success of those made by his children in the diocess of Metz, when he was archdeacon there. The reader must judge whether the advantages of the one we have re­lated, were less the effects of the sighs of the holy priest, than of the zeal which he showed to have it undertaken.

Had the ecclesiastical conferences of St. Lazarus effected no other good than that of which we have spoken, they would merit the praises of posterity. But they also pro­moted the glory of God by the manner in which they spréad themselves throughout France and beyond the mountains. Jean Jacques Olier, who alone does so much honor to Vin­cent of Paul, was the first to establish them in Auvergne and and in Vélai, and subsequently amongst the canons of Puy. Those of Noyon established them of their own accord. The ecclesiastics of Pontoise, Angouléme, Angers, Bordeaux, and many others, followed their example. All these assemblies had the same relation to that of St. Lazarus, that colonies have to their metropolis, as appears by the letters of the illus­trious Mr. Godeau, bishop of Vence, and of the pious foun­der of the seminary of St. Sulpicius. I will only add that those established in Normandy by the abbé of Val Richer were attended with the most brilliant success; it is a known fact. I will remark also that he was an intimate friend of our saint, as well as of Mr. Bourdoise, and that a man formed in such a school, must naturally have succeeded, whilst he fol­lowed the lessons which he had received in it3.

The good which Vincent had effected among the clergy by this pious and learned assembly, did not satisfy the insatiable ardor of his zeal: he desired to effect something similar in families by the establishment of spiritual retreats. No person had as yet undertaken what he executed in this respect; and it appears that his immense charity will have but few imitators. The greatest saints had wept over the corruption which covered the face of christianity; they exhorted the faithful to build a spiritual solitude for themselves in their hearts, there to weigh all their actions in the balance of truth; and to reflect deeply on the eternal years which are advancing at a rapid pace. But it was reserved for Vincent of Paul to afford them a facility to do this, which they had not before enjoyed; and to take away from the middling classes, that is, from the greater number, the pretexts under which they had been ac­customed to veil their negligence and insensibility. With this view, he resolved to share his house and possessions with those who were willing to profit by them to become reconciled to God. Like the father of the family, of whom our Saviour speaks in his gospel, he in a manner forced the good and the bad to sit down at his tahle. All the re­ward he asked, was that those who were just, should sanctify themselves still more; and that those who were not, should use every effort to become so.

The information of such generous conduct spread by’de­grees through Paris and into the provinces. In a few months the house of St. Lazarus became more frequented than it had been for a century. Vincent himself compared it to Noah’s ark. into which all sorts of animals, both great and small, were well received. In fact, it was a strange enough sight to see in the same refectory, gentlemen of the first respectability and people of the lowest class; enlightened doctors and poor countrymen who had scarcely common sense; great magis­trates and simple mechanics; men of the world, and solitaries accustomed to live in the forests; old men who came to la­ment the past, and young people who had recourse to God to secure themselves against the perils of the future.

To execute his design in a manner useful to those who made the retreat, and transmit the importance of it to his successors from age to age, he endeavored to show to both the price of the grace which God placed in their hands.

He represented to those who made the exercises that the only end of the retreat was to destroy the reign of sin, reform themselves altogether, destroy their bad habits, their faults and even their imperfections; that they ought to employ their time in begging of God to make them perfect christians, each one according to his state-of life and that it was of great conse­quence for those who had not as yet embraced any state, to consult much with our Lord on that which they were to em­brace. He desired above all that particular attention should be paid to those who thought of quitting the world; but then he exacted precautions which amounted almost to scrupu­losity. And if on the one hand he wished them to be advised, in general, to prefer well regulated communities to disorderly ones, on the other, he would not allow them to be advised in particular; above all, it was prohibited to propose to them his congregation. The choice of a house, whether secular, as his was, or religious, like most of the others, was, in his opinion, an affair to be decided by God alone, and upon which those who are consulted should dread very much answering rather through views of natural prudence, than according to the maxims of christian simplicity.

In order that the missionaries might omit nothing that could contribute to the success of the retreats, the saint re­quired two things of those to whom he committed the direc­tion of them. The first was, that they should speak in a solid and affecting manner, that they should take care to banish that vain eloquence, which St. Paul reprobated so often, and which God does not bless. The second was, that they should select for the subjects of their discourses, not those calculated to amuse the mind, but the great truths of salvation, our perso­nal obligations, the resources which Jesus Christ has prepared for us in the sacraments, the dispositions required to approach them &c. It is by these means.that they are disposed, to make good general confessions, or, if they have already made such as can be relied upon, to supply by an exact review, whatever may have been defective in their late confessions; to prescribe to themselves a rule of life to which they must strictly adhere; and above all, to take firm resolutions and always in detail, not only to avoid sin and the occasions which may lead to it, but also to perform all the good works of which each one is capable in the state of life wherein he is placed by God.

A plan so well formed must have necessarily been very serviceable to those for whom it was made: but as it might happen, after the death of the servant of God, and even du­ring his life, that his priests, worn down by labor, and unable to bear the expense of so many gratuitous retreats, might re­lax by degrees; to guard them against this sort of temptation, the saint repeated several times in his conferences that the choice which it had pleased God to make of the house of St. Lazarus for the conversion of innumerable sinners, was a great grace; that they should dread nothing so much as to become unworthy of it; that if they should ever deserve to be de­prived by God of that employment, it would he to be feared that he would deprive them of all others; that a missionary who would acquit himself of so glorious a function with re­pugnance, could only be an object of horror before God and man. “Ah!” he exclaimed one day, in finishing a long dis­course on this subject, “what a shame, what a subject of af­fliction, if this place, which is now like a beautiful bath, whither so many come to cleanse themselves, should become one day a corrupted cistern, through the relaxation and sloth of those who dwell in it. Let us pray to God, gentlemen, that this misfortune may not happen. Let us address our­selves to the Blessed Virgin, that, by her powerful interces­sion, and through her immense desire of the conversion of sinners, we may avoid such a misfortune.”

It was by these and similar motives that Vincent animated his company, never to calculate the trouble or the expense of those holy exercises. On this point, as well as on all others, he gave them examples more powerful than his words. The more he advanced in age, the more, contrary to the cus­tom with old men, he became piously prodigal; his charity knew no bounds. In fine, he went so far, that he received as many persons for the exercises as the could possibly receive. From a calculation made, during the twenty-five last years of his life, nearly twenty thousand persons made retreats in his house, that is to say, eight hundred were received in it every year. It is true that some of them paid a part of their ex­pense; but it is true also that the greater part gave nothing at all, either because the mediocrity of their fortune did not permit, or because they imagined, as some do now, that the retreats of St. Lazarus were the object of a foundation, and that the collection of strangers received there was less a duty purely gratuitous charity, than an obligation of justice.

Asit sometimes happens that pious persons do not always think alike, there were some among the children of Vincent of Paul, who considered his liberality excessive, and com­plained of him to himself. Those complaints, which he re­futed a long time with the arms of charity, recurred so often, and it was represented to him in so strong a manner that his house was on the point of destruction, that it was thought at last that his zeal would be confined within narrower limits. Not to resist altogether remonstrances which appeared just, he took upon himself the care of receiving all who would come, and of making a choice of them. But when he came to the point of admitting some and rejecting others, his heart was so affected that he could hardly refuse any one. The conse­quence was that he admitted more on the first day than they had ever been accustomed to receive. In vain did they tell him, what they had been obliged to repeat to him more than once, that there were no more rooms in the house, he calmly an­swered that he would dive bis own.

If it cost him much to bear such a heavy burden, it must be acknowledged that he was, even during his life, recom­pensed a hundred fold for it. As he desired that those of his houses which had the means, should imitate the example of the mother house in Paris, he saw by himself, or learned from undoubted testimony, the inconceivable fruits which the spiri­tual retreats produced on all sides. He received a prodigious number of letters on this subject, all tending to congratulate him on the blessing which God gave to his zeal and to that of bis children. Priests, curates, bishops, and amongst others the baron de Renty4, thanked him a thousand times for hav­ing opened a new way of sanctification to pastors and people.

But it was not only in France, that God gave his blessing to the retreats made by Vincent or his companions: his hand was with them in Italy as we;l as in France. Cardinal Durazzo, who did honor to the Roman purple by his alms, his zeal and his vigilance, had no sooner established the chil­dren of our holy priest at Genoa, than he desired to try whether they would be of as great advantage to the ecclesias­tics, as they had been to the country people of his diocess. He invited those of the curates in whose parishes they had made missions to come to the capital. The greater number obeyed with pleasure, and were rewarded for their docility. Their modesty, the strict silence which they observed, their simplicity in giving an account of’ their meditations, were sensible marks of the renovation operated in them by the Holy Ghost. Conversions took place which, if we suppose with a holy father that an unfortunate ecclesiastic is scarcely ever converted, must appear miraculous in an extraordinary de­gree. Repentance was manifested more than once by confes­sions perhaps too public. The spirit of humility and compunc­tion was so prevalent, that its sallies could not be moderated but with difficulty; which occasioned one of those gentlemen to exclaim one day: “We are here in the valley of Josaphat: every one acknowledges his misery. After all, happy Is the one who, by this anticipated confession, may be able to avoid that of the great day of the Lord!”

It was the consideration of so much good, of which the prelates gave Vincent of Paul an exact account, that rendered him so firm in not allowing his house to give up the retreats, so long as it was possible to hear the expense. It was through the same motive that he examined before God, whether he could not procure in some community of religious women, the same advantage for persons of the other sex, which they could not enjoy in the houses of his congregation. Charity, which renders every thing easy, did not long delay giving him the means. It was not enough for the father of the poor to have established a congregation of priests almost entirely de­voted to their service, it pleased heaven that he should also give rise to a numerous band of virgins, whose zeal had, in some respects, a more extensive object, and who, without dis tinction of age or sex, should perform in favor of the orphan and the indigent what the more important.occupations of the apostolical ministry or the rules of propriety would not allow him to do himself. As the formation of this great establish­ment is essentially connected with the history which I write, it is necessary to make known its origin, its functions, and its progress.

Vincent of Paul had now established the confraternities of charity in favor of the sick poor about seventeen pears. That association of mercy, having spread from the country into the cities, a great number of ladies of rank had engaged in it. But that which rendered these assemblies more brilliant, contributed by degrees to make them less useful. The first ladies of rank who engaged in them, had done it through choice, and piety induced them to serve the poor personally. It was not quite so with those who succeeded them. Some joined them, because it was the fashion. Others acted, it is true, through purer motives; but their husbands, who feared the effects of unwholesome air, would not allow them to yield to their zeal. It was necessary then to rely upon ser­vants; and as the greater part had neither affection nor skill, an establishment which required a great deal of both, was daily falling to decay.

To remedy this disorder, it was thought necessary to have female servants, whose only occupation should be to distribute every day to the sick the nourishment and remedies which their sickness required. This project was good; but before carrying it into execution, it was necessary, above al], to find persons who would undertake it; and also, after having found them, to form them to an employment which requires much capacity and virtue, and more virtue than capacity. These two things were not easy, and the second was yet less so than the first.

After many efforts, and still more prayers, the saint thought at last that he ought to yield to the entreaties of Madame Le Gras, who, full of tenderness for the poor, had been waiting during two years for the permission from her director, to consecrate herself to their service by an irrevocable vow. Towards the end of the year 1633 he sent her three or four young girls from the country who appeared disposed for the most arduous duties of charity. The great talents which God had given to the holy widow for this kind of education, were soon manifested. These young girls, whom the urgent necessities of the poor did not permit her to cultivate lung, edified all the parishes into which they were sent. Their modesty, their eagerness to serve the sick, the sanctity of their lives charmed those who saw them. Such beautiful examples moved seve­ral young persons of their age and sex, who carne to offer themselves, to render, like them, their humble services .to Jesus Christ in the persons of the poor.

Such was the commencemeot of that company of Virgins, who under the name of Daughters of Charity, have now thirty-four houses in the city of Paris. As small in its birth as the mustard seed, it has now become a great tree. Its roots, nourished less by the substance of the earth than by the dews of heaven, have extended into every part of France, into Lor­raine and even into Poland; and we will soon see the orphan for so long a time neglected, the deso;ate widow, the soldier covered with blood and wounds, the wretched poor, the sick of all kinds, reposing under its healthful branches, and there finding nourishment, vigor and life.

Vincent and the pious Madame Le Gras had neither fore­seen nor hoped for such rapid and extensive progress. But when they saw that God, satisfied in a manner with having drawn the outlines of his work, chose to confide it to their care that they might give it the finishing stroke, they both endeavored to extract from this precious talent, all that it was capable of producing. Their intention had been at first only to assist in the parishes those of the sick who were deprived of necessary aid. When the designs of God became after wards manifest, the holy institutor charged them by degrees with the education of the foundlings, and the instruction of young girls who were without the means of obtaining it; with the care of a great number of hospitals, and even of the cri­minals condemned to the galleys. As these different occupations form in a manner many communities out of one, the holy priest gave them general and particular rules to sustain the whole body and the different parts which compose it.

According to these rules, which have always been con­sidered a master piece of wisdom, the Sisters of Charity must, above all thing, be well convinced that God united them to honor Jesus Christ our Lord, as the source and mo­del of all charity, by rendering him in the persons of poor old people, children, the sick, and the prisoners, all the ser­vices corporal or spiritual of which they are capable; that, to correspond with so’holy a vocation, they must join the inte­rior exercises of a spiritual life with the exterior employments of christian charity; that, although they are not and cannot be nuns, because that state is incompatible with their employ­ments, yet they must lead a life more perfect, if possible, than that of the most holy nuns, because they are much more ex­posed; that, as purity, a virtue hard to preserve and of infi­nite extent, is indispensibly necessary to them, they must re­move, by the most severe precautions, every thing that might wound the eyes of God or their neighbor, and that watchful­ness over themselves must redouble, when charity obliges them to mingle with the world, treat with persons of a dif­ferent sex, and take care of the sick, and even of the dying.

As nothing is better calculated to nourish virtue than the mortification of this body of sin which we carry every where with us, and an inviolable fidelity to all the exercises of solid piety, they have, with regard to both, rules which leave no­thing to be desired, and which require much whilst they ap­pear to exact little. Neither hair cloth nor the other austeri­ties of the cloister are required of them. Their great penance is their common life. To rise summer and winter at four o’clock in the morning, make two meditations a day, live very frugally, use no wine except when sick, watch with them by turns for whole nights, count as nothing either the infection of the hospitals or the poisoned air breathed in them, or the horrors of the dead and dying; this is the kind of morti­fication which the Sisters of Charity undergo : if it be enough for vigorous men, it is certainly enough for persons naturally feeble.

As regards their exercises of piety, some are prescribed by the common rule, others they must refer to their confessor. But both are subordinate to the wants of their neighbor. At the first cry of the poor they must fly to their succour. But whatever zeal they must have for procuring corporal health for the sick, they must be much more interested for the health of their souls. As the voyage of eteroitÿ is performed but once, as the main point is to perform it well, and for that end great dispositions are required, they must, to prepare the minds and hearts of the dying, profit by every moment of life that remains to them. In the beginning they must endeavor to inspire them with a lively horror of their sins; and if there be still time, dispose them in an earnest manner, but in gene­ral, to make an exact confession of all their miseries; if time presses, they must aid them to conceive a sincere sorrow for their past disorders, and a firm resolution to die rather than fall into them again.

These rules, after having been practised for more than twenty years, were approved by the cardinal de Retz, arch­bishop of Paris. The king confirmed the establishment by his letters patent, which are an eternal monument of his piety and of the esteem in which the Sisters of Charity were already every where held. They afterwards merited a still greater eulogy, not on account of their duties, which were al­ways the saine, but on account of the persons who fulfilled them. Vincent, believing that God would bless more par­ticularly the poor serving the poor, admitted for a number of years into the new community, only persons of a middling -ank. But young ladies of high standing having offered them­selves to share with the former the abjection and merit of their employments, it was thought unjust to close against them a door which God himself seemed to open to them. A trial was therefore resolved upon, and it turned out most happily. The world then saw and still sees young ladies brought up delicately and accustomed to dress richly, embracing a state of life in which nature has much to suffer, honoring as their masters unfortunate beings, who would not have been allowed to wait upon them in the world, and wearing with greater joy a poor coarse habit, than the followers of the world ex­perience in their worldly and often scandalous attire.

I do not know whether this change took place during the life of the holy institutor: it is however certain that whatever may have been the condition of the Sisters of Charity in his time, he had always a particular respect for them. The very name of Servants of the Poor melted the heart of this father of all the afflicted. The protection which God grants to those who serve him in his members, was a guarentee to him against the innumerable dangers to which their virtue is exposed. He sent them sometimes to the armies, to take care of the wounded or sick soldiers, sometimes even to Poland, through Germany, amidst a multitude of heretics, without appearing to fear for them what he would have apprehended for others. He sometimes seemed to promise them, that hea­ven would rather work miracles in their favor, than abandon them: and heaven has more than once justified his predic­tions. There is an example to which all Paris was witness, and in which even incredulity would find it hard not to ac­knowledge the finger of God.

One of the sisters of charity having gone to wait upon a sick person in a house in the suburb of Saint-Germain, had scarcely entered it, when the edifice fel]. Of thirty persons who were in it, every one was buried under its ruins, with the excep­tion of a small child which was wounded, and the sister of whom we speak, who was not even touched. During this terrible accident she was on the corner of a floor, which did not fall, although all the other parts of the same floor fell in. She remained there motionless with a porringer which she carried in her hand. A shower of stones, beams, joists, chests and presses, which fell from the upper stories, grazed the place where she was; but they appeared to respect her: she came forth unharmed from this heap of ruins, amidst the acclamations of an immense body of people who had been attracted by this terrible accident.

The service which Vincent of Paul rendered the poor by procuring a community which had no other object in view but their relief, was soon followed by a new establishment, which was for those very poor a source of advantage, of which the most vivid imagination can form but a very im­perfect idea.

On his return from a journey in which, by order of the bishop of Beauvais, he made the visitation of the nuns of St. Ursula, the effects of which still subsist in the wise regula­tions which he left them, the lady of the late president Gous­sault proposed to him a good work which she had long had in contemplation. She was a lady eminent for her charity. Rich and beautiful, the world was offering to her in a second marriage every thing that was capable of flattering a young person of her condition. But grace was stronger than na­ture. Jesus Christ, poor and suffering in the poor, was the only spouse whom she desired to choose. She lost nothing and the poor gained a great deal.

The persons whom she most frequently visited, were the sick of the Hotel-Dieu of Paris, and they were the principal subject of the conversation which she had with Vincent of Paul. She represented to the holy priest with great power, that this vast hospital merited particular attention; that nearly twenty-five thousand patients were received in it every year, of•every age, sex, country, and religion; that consequently an immense harvest could be reaped there, if it were well regulated; that, however, things were far from being so, and that site knew, from being an eye-witness of it, that the poor there were much neglected both for spiritual and temporal wants.

Vincent knew well that the best order did not prevail at the Hotel-Dieu : but he also knew that there are evils which must be tolerated, for fear, in trying to correct them, to occa­sion greater ones. He was therefore content to reply to the lady, that the house of which she spoke was governed by ad­ministrators whom he thought very wise, and that he had no authority to correct the abuses which might exist there as well as any where else.. This reply was very judicious, and manifested much circumspection. Yet, as it afforded no remedy for any thing, the zeal of Madame Goussault was not satisfied with it. She made new efforts, hut she always re­ceived nearly the same answer.

What the love of the world does in the heart of a woman who is its victim, the love of God does still more easily is those virtuous ladies who think of nothing but his glory. Madame Goussault followed up her project; that is to say, she persisted in her desire that it should be put in execution, and what is more, that, Vincent should be the one to take it in hand, because she would then be certain that it would suc­ceed. With this view, she paid a visit to the archbishop of Paris: she spoke to him in so striking and pressing a manner, that the prelate signified to the holy priest, that it would give him pleasure if he would undertake that good work.

Vincent, who had no longer any doubt of the will of God, Invited some ladies of rank to assemble, on a certain day, at the house of Madame Goussault. The ladies de Ville-Savin, de Bailleul, du Mecq, de Sainctot, and de Pollaillon met accor­dingly. The saint opened the assembly with a discourse so energetic, and developed so well the .importance of the con­templated undertaking, that all resolved to engage in it. The affair was again brought forward at a second assembly, which, owing to the cares of the servant of God, was more numer­ously attended than the first. Elizabeth d’Aligre, wife of the chancellor of France, was there with Anne Petau de Tra­versi, and the illustrious Marie Fouquet de Belle-Isle. The last has obtained an immortal name by her attachment to God, her tenderness for the poor, and her submission to the most rigorous decrees of Providence; and never will it be forgotten that at the moment when she learned the humiliating disgrace of her son, the superintendent of finances, she pronounced at the feet of her sovereign master these words which will con­stitute her eulogium forever: “I thank thee, O my God. l have begged of you the salvation of my son : this is the road to it.”

At this assembly they proceeded to the election of three offi­cers, that is, a superior, an assistant, and a treasurer. Ma dame Goussault deserved to be and was in fact the superior of the new company; and Vincent was appointed perpetual director. In a few years it became so flourishing, that it numbered two hundred ladies, some of whom, as the duchess of Mantua, were born to wear a crown. The more they tes­tified their good will and ardor, the more our saint perceived the importance of guiding their zeal. It was on this account that he prescribed rules for them, from which they made an agreement never to depart. As his first glance at things was admirable, and as he saw objects in their whole extent, he re­marked that the point was, first; to do good, without reproach­ing those who were at the head, with having neglected it; 2dly, to do it in sight of all who were willing to be wit­nesses of it; 3dly, to do it for the sick, whose souls were of­tentimes more to be pitied than their bodies.

This project was successfully executed in every point. Those ladies, by their arniahle and respectful manners, gained the hearts of the religious of the house. They had every liberty to visit the halls for the consolation of the sick, to speak to them of God, and encourage them to make a good use of their infirmities. They disposed them to make good con­fessions, by merely relating to them the manner in which they prepared themselves. They procured them ‘enlightened di­rectors, who were acquainted with different languages, a help of which they had hitherto been deprived. They banished the abuse of requiring of the sick to go to confession on entering the house; an abuse which occasioned a multitude of sacri­leges, and in consequence of which the calvinists, for fear of not being so well treated, went to confession like the others. To these aids for the soul, were added, I do not say food, but comforts for the body. Every day, the Sisters of Charity, in a house rented expressly in the neighborhood, were pre­paring for a thousand sick persons, biscuits, preserves, jellies, even fruits, according to the season and their state of convales­cence. It is impossible for such attentions to be paid, except by those who look upon the poor as their children; but we can only look upon them as such, when a lively faith makes us consider, them the images of a God loaded with our mise­ries and infirmities.

The sight of a number of ladies of the first respectability who by turns performed the duties of charity with an attest tion and grace of which servants are not capable; this sight, I say, melted the hearts of the people and the nobility. The poor, who had the greatest share in these advantages, were extremely affected; and if we are permitted to judge of the change of morals by the conversions made in point of reli­gion, we can yield to the most favorable conjectures, since in the course of a single year, the one in which the good work commenced, there were more than seven hundred and sixty, Turks, Calvinists, and Lutherans, of whom many had been wounded and captured at sea, who embraced the catholic faith. It was even so much the persuasion in Paris, that there was a particular blessing attached to the new society, that good citizens begged and obtained their reception into the Hotel-Dieu, by paying very liberally for their expenses, on condition that they should be attended precisely as the poor of the house were.

Although the expenses which this assembly incurred for the sick, amounted to at least seven thousand livres a year, we must only look upon them as a prelude to the efforts which it made, some years afterwards, in favor of an innu­merable multitude of the poor of the kingdom and the neigh­boring states: even these efforts, prodigious as they may ap­pear, are but a portion of the immense good of which it has been the source. It was that society which, under the gui­dance of Vincent of Paul, laid the first foundations of the general hospital of Paris, and of that of Sainte Reine. It opened an asylum for foundlings and a safe retreat for many decent young women, by the establishment of the house of Providence. In fine, it was that society, whose charity extended itself even into Asia, Africa and America, where, by abundant altos, it contributed to the support of the min­isters of the gospel, to sustain the new converts, to the re­demption of captives, to the erection of many churches, and to the apostolical journeys performed in China and Tonquin by the bishops of Heliopolis, Bérite, and Metellopolis. Such a number of splendid actions require greater detail; but we must wait until the order of time permits us to speak of them mote extensively.

Notwithstanding these occupations andmany others which the archbishop of Paris added to them, Vincent always pursued his two principal projects, the sanctification of the clergy and the instruction of the country people. He was not satisfied with what he had heretofore done for the as­pirants to orders; but, as he could do nothing better, he pru­dently thought that if ecclesiastics were formed early to the virtues of their state, the first pastors would find in these young plants cultivated for a long time, the surest resources against disorder. With this view he established, at the col­lege des Bons Enfans, a seminary according to the plan of the council of Trent; he received a number of young clergymen, from the age of twelve to fourteen, to whom his priests taught the chant, the ceremonies, and still more the gravity, recollection, and all the virtues becoming the holy ministry. But he afterwards perceived, as did also the bish­ops, that this plan, beautiful as it was, would be very difficult in its execution. This forced him, six or seven years aller-wards, not to abandon his enterprise, it is true, but to add something to it, by establishing, with M. Bourdoise his friend, seminaries on the same footing as they now exist in most of the diocess of France, as we shall mention in its place.

As to the instruction of the country people, the saint mul­tiplied his missions in proportion as God multiplied his com­pany. By degrees his priests visited a great part of our pro­vinces. Those which were most exposed to the contagion of heresy were commonly preferred to others, because their wants were more pressing. It was for this reason that he wished that two of his missionaries should labor two whole years in the diocess of Montauban; and although they had been sent principally to strengthen the catholics who were in danger of losing their faith, God gave them the grace to con­vert twenty-four calvinists. They had no less success in the diocess of Bordeaux. As they avoided in their serinons every thing like controversy, many of the pretended reformers were always amongst the numbers of their hearers: but as they took care to place in a strong light the beauty of our holy re­ligion, there were always some, returning to the unity.

It would seem that such success, of which the prelates, the curates and the nobility gave the holy priest an exact ac­count, could not fail to console him; yet they more than once alarmed the truly christian friendship which he nour­ished for his children. He feared lest the benedictions which were showered upon them by pastors and people, might at last weaken their humility. After the example of holy Job, he sanctified himself for them; and he offered every morn­ing the victim of expiation for the faults they might have committed. This precaution did not satisfy his tenderness. He took care, in congratulating them on their spiritual con­quests, to direct their minds to Him who was the author of them. Nor did he fail to share in their functions, whenever the important affairs with which he was intrusted, left him a little respite; and he then chose the most laborious missions. It is probably for this reason that he formed th design of put­ting himself at the head of his priests, to commelsce one in the Cévennes, which we ought not to omit here.

Every one knows that the Cévennes are a chain of high mountains, which extend for nearly thirty leagues in the dio­cesses of Alais, Uzés, Mende, and in a pan of Vivarais. It is also known that as they are difficult of access, heresy and that spirit of revolt which follows in its train, had made a ram­part of them, which was more than once the stumbling block of our troops. Calvinism, at the time of which we speak,’ had, as it were, its head quarters there. Its ministers, like fu­rious wolves, made frequent excursions into the neighboring plains, from whence they always carried away some of the flock of the Son of God. The fear of still greater ravages in­duced Sylvester de Marcillac, bishop of Mende, to expose his situation to the servant of God. Vincent gave him aid as soon as he was able; and by the conduct he held at this time with a man of whom we are going to speak, he showed, that, in his opinion, there was no science nor erudition to be put in corn petition before God with the labor of a simple country mission.

Our saint had at Rome one of his priests, named Du Coudrai, who was perfectly acquainted with the Syriac and Hebrew languages. Some persons of distinction, who were well dis­posed towards Vincent of Paul ant his institute, begged Du Coudrai to give a new Latin version of the Syriac text. They were persuaded that a work of this nature would do honor to a rising congregation, and would not be useless to the church. They also wished him to write against the Jews, and in order tocontend more successfully with them, that he should make use of their own books, which he understood better than their most learned rabins. Du Coudrai listened willingly to these two propositions; but before giving his consent, he wished to know what his superior would think of it. Vincent, the hum­ble and charitable Vincent,entreated him not to think of it. He represented to him, that such works nourished the curiosity of the learned, but contributed nothing to the salvation of the poor people, for which Providence had chosen him; that a more urgent necessity called him elsewhere; that there were actually in France thousands of souls, stretching out their hands to him, and telling him in the most moving manner:. “Alas! sir, you have been chosen by God, to contribute to our salvation; have pity on us. We have for a long time been buried in sin and ignorance. To be relieved from them we need neither Syriac nor Latin versions. Your zeal and the miserable jargon of our mountains, will be sufficient for us. Without that, we are in danger of perishing.”

This letter, which was in the same spirit as the one which the apostle of the Indies once wrote to the university of Pa­ris, concluded with entreaties still more urgent. The saint protested that he could not resist the solicitations of the bishop of Mende; and that he would himself go into the Cévennes, if he could find no other person to go in his place.

New embarrassments and a dangerous fall which he met with at that time, did not permit him to put his design in exe­cution. Two of his priests took his place. They labored for nearly two years in that awful country, and had a good share of the chalice of the Lord. But at last God blessed their pa­tience. The bishop wrote to our saint, that he had already re­ceived the abjuration of thirty or forty Huguenots; that there were as many more who, in a few days, would renounce their errors, and that the last mission had produced incredible fruit.

Some time after, the king proposed another mission to Vin­cent. The terrors of war, after having laid waste the ex­tremities, were penetrating gradually into the very heart, of the kingdom. The Spaniards, led on by the famous Jean de Wert and Prince Thomas, took in a few days la Capelle, le Catelet and Corbie. The loss of the last place threw Paris into such consternation, that a great number of inhabitants left it, with their most valuable effects. The cardinal of Riche­lieu, who had entered the capital to remove fear, caused twenty thousand men, mostly servants and apprentices, to be levied there immediately. The terrified Parisians gave more than was necessary for the sustenance of this body of military. The house of St. Lazarus, whose members were then in their annual retreat, was used as a place for exercise, and in the space of eight days, seventy-two companies were trained there. The king, who believed that he would succeed against his enemies, if he could succeed in obtaining the favor of the God of Armies, wished that great attention should be paid to the sanctification of the troops; and it was according to the direction of this religious prince, that the chancellor requested Vincent of Paul to send twenty of his missionaries to the camp. A report but too well founded that a contagious dis­ease had broken out amongst the troops, was a motive for these worthy laborers to hasten their departure; and Vincent calculated so much upon their zeal, that to induce them to set out with greater diligence, he contented himself with writing to them that the plague was in the army.

Fidelity to the wise regulations which the saint gave them, according to his custom, drew down the blessing of heaven upon those worthy ministers and upon their labors: and on the twentieth of September 1636, four thousand soldiers had already approached the tribunal of penance, shedding abun­dant tears. That mission, which encamped and moved almost every day, served, not only for the troops of the king; it was also useful to a great number of parishes in which the army remained, and which, with the permission of the bishops, profited by the occasion which God furnished them to become reconciled to him. Many, as well of the military as of the inhabitants of the country, died in an edifying manner. More­over, as experience teaches that those who carry arms, are never more intrepid than when they are in friendship with God, that army, although composed in part of new troops, did wonders. Corbie, which the Spaniards had fortified as well as they could, capitulated eight days after the siege was opened. Its surrender spread alarm throughout Flanders, Picardy breathed again, and the inhabitants of Paris thought themselves safe. The priests of the mission returned thither completely worn out. Some of them had been attacked with the contagious disease; but God preserved them for his church, and it was not long before they rendered new ser­vices in many missions, and above all in those which were made at the entreaties of Mr. Noel Brulard, better known by the name of the commander of Sillery.

This distinguished person had gained great reputation in several important negotiations. By means of the commandery with which his order had invested him, he made a great figure in the world, and a very small one before God. Grace touched his heart; and in consequence of that idea of an ancient Fa­ther, that we are very miserable in living only for others, when we have to die for ourselves alone, he determined to give to his salvation all the remainder of his life. He began by quitting his hotel of Sillery and all its sumptuous apart­ments. He rid himself of the greater part of his domestics, after having rewarded them in proportion to their services. He sold his richest furniture, and gave very considerable sums fbr different charitable works.

Time only redoubled his fervor; and that fervor caused him to be thought worthy of the priesthuod. His zeal was not confined to his own person. He undertook to provide for the spiritual wants of those of the curates of his order, who de­pended on him; and after having conferred about it with our saint, in whose hands he was like a child in the hands of its father, he obtained from the grand master of Malta, a commission as visiter, with power to re-establish discipline. To give success to this important visit, it was determined that missions should be united to it, in order to reform at the same time the people and those who were at their head. The former were taught the great truths of christian morality; instruc­tions were given to the latter on subjects proper to their state of life. The wisdom and zeal of the laborers drew down from heaven the most abundant benedictions upon their la­bors: they soon became that land which the Lord has blessed.

A commencement so happy encouraged the pious comman­der. To keep the streams in good order, he desired to purify the source, and for that end, to establish at Paris, in the house of the Temple, a kind of seminary, where those who wished to devote themselves to religion, might qualify themselves to do, in the benefices of the order, all the good which could be justly expected of them. But this excellent design succeeded badly, because it was too much hurried. Our saint made some stay in the Temple. He wished to act in accordance with his ordinary maxim, which was, not to do things has­tily. Unfortunately, he appeared too slow for those who la­bored with him. They wanted to do every thing in a day; they did nothing at all. The commander who perceived it, although a little too late, redoubled tris esteem and affection for the servant of God; and he gave him real proofs of it, by con­tributing to the foundation of the seminary of Annecy, and to the subsistence of the house of St. Lazarus, which the mis­fortunes of the times reduced some years afterwards to the greatest extremity.

These good offices, which will always be gratefully remem­bered in the congregation, and which are only a part of the holy actions of Mr. de Sillery, merited for him abundant graces, both during his life, and at his death which was pre­cious in the sight of God. Vincent of Paul rendered him, during his last moments, all the services of which the most sincere gratitude is capable. The great example of faith, firm­ness and submission which he saw in this virtuous com­mander, indemnified him fully, for all the trouble he had ta­ken for his order. The knights of Malta, than whom none are better acquainted with the rules of politeness and respect, were very sensible of his attention: and, on the seventh of September 1637, the grand master Paul Lascaris,’a descen­dant of the counts of Vintimille and of the ancient emperors of Constantinople, wrote to Vincent to return him his thanks.

About three weeks after the date of this letter, our saint re­ceived another from Mr. de Saint-Cyran, which was not alto­gether so polite. As this famous abbé is necessarily con­nected with the history we are writing, we must, in order to give a correct idea of the singular contests, which the holy priest had with him, retrace our steps a little.

Jean du Verger de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran, an inti­mate friend of Jansen ius, after having spent some years in Poi­tou, came to Paris; and he there exhibited an air of austerity and zeal, which, although he performed no miracles, caused him to be looked upon as a new Elias. The bishop of Ypres, alarmed at his own system upon grace, sought protectors for it, and looked upon it as a point of importance to gain over some religious community. The abbé de Saint-Cyran made every exertion to help him in this matter. The marks of de­ference repeatedly paid him by our saint, led him to believe that he might at last speak to him more openly. He began to introduce some of his maxims: but he did it, at first, with so much artifice, that a man less attentive than our saint, would have been caught.

Every conversation, however, improved upon the preceding one. One day, having fallen upon some point of the doctrine of Calvin, the servant of God was much astonished to hear the abbé de Saint-Cyran take the. part of that heresiarch. He represented to him that this doctrine had been condemned by the church. The abbé answered, ” That Calvin had not had so bad a cause; but had defended it badly. Bene sensit,” ad­ded he, “male locutus est.”5

Another time, as Saint-Cyran grew warm in defending a point of doctrine condemned by the council of Trent, Vincent said to him : “Sir, you go too far. Would you have me believe a private doctor like yourself, in preference to the whole church, which is the pillar of truth? … How do you presume to prefer your judgment to that of so many holy prelates assembled in the council of Trent, and who have de­cided those points?” “Do not speak to me of that council,” replied the Abbé de Saint-Cyran; “it was a council of the pope and of the scholastics, which was nothing but faction and cabal.”

“Another day,” it is still the bishop of Rhodes who speaks, ” Mr. Vincent having said with his accustomed mildness to the abbé, who was coming out of his cabinet: ‘ Acknowledge, sir, that you have just written something of what God has imparted to you in your morning meditation.’ Saint-Cyran answered : ‘ I confess that God has imparted and imparts to me great light. He has made known to me that there is no longer a church… Five or six hundred years ago, the church was like a great river, the waters of which were clear; but now what seems to us a church, is but a muddy stream,’ &c. ‘ What, sir,’ replied Vincent, ‘ would you prefer your own private opinions to the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, who promised to build his church upon the rock, and that the gates of hell should not prevail against her? The church is his spouse, and he will never abandon her.”‘

This argument was simple, but it was strong. To get rid of it, the abbé answered him: “It is true that Jesus Christ has built his church upon the rock; but there is a time to build and to destroy. She was his spouse; but she is now an adultress and a prostitute: it is for this reason he has re­pudiated her, and will substitute another in her place, who will be faithful to him.” At these words, our saint, stunned and seized with horror, stood in need of all his moderation. He confined himself, then, to replying to the innovator, that he ought to mistrust himself, and that he lost sight of the respect which was due to the church. Saint-Cyran who easily lost his patience, replied in an angry tone: “And you, sir, do you know yourself what the church is Vincent gave merely the definition found in the catechism for the children. He answered that the church was the assembly of the faithful under the guidance of its lawful pastors, &c. “You understand nothing but high Dutch,” answered the abbé, in a rage; “you are an ignorant man: far from being at the head of your congregation, you should be expelled from it; and I am surprised that they suffer you in it.” “I am more surprised at it than you, sir,” replied the man of God; “and I know well that if justice were done me, they would not fail to dismiss me.” Thus ended this interview, in which Vincent of Paul and Saint-Cyran maintained their characters admirably; the one by his unalterable humility; the other by a gloomy pride, whick knows neither equity nor decency. From that time the holy priest broke off with him, as has been attested by M. de Montmorin, archbishop of Vi­enne, and the illustrious Abbé de Rochechouard de Chandenier, who had learned it from Vincent himself.

However, as many excellent persons, and above all the • Rev. Father de Condren, complained more and more of the perverse opinions of Saint-Cyran, Vincent, who would have done any thing to save him from the precipice in which he was on the point of falling, resolved to make another trial. Having paid him a visit, he endeavored to dispose him to re­ceive favorably the advice he had to give him. He then spoke to him of the obligation of submitting his jùdgment to that of the church, and of having more respect for the coun­cil of Trent than he had evinced. He showed to him par­ticularly, that some of the propositions which he had main­tained in his presence, were contrary to the doctrine of the church. He represented to him that he was losing himself in a labyrinth of errors, and that, above all, he had been very wrong in trying to engage him and his congregation in them. The saint became animated in the course of the interview, and he spoke with so much force and solidity, that the abbé was silenced, and did not answer a word.

The good works which occupied Vincent of Paul at the time of the event which we have just related, did not make him forget the daughters of St. Francis of Sales. During the same year, 1637, he visited two of their houses There he beheld with great pleasure all that piety, peace and harmony could afford most pleasing and consoling. It must, however, be acknowledged that he found once an object calculated to move a heart like his, and to cause him to wonder at the rigorous trials, through which God is pleased from time to time to lead his elect.

A religious of great merit became all at once the victim of a temptation as violent, at least, as that of the doctor whom our saint had relieved, when he was almoner to Queen Mar­garet. This Sister, who, till that time, had been filled with the love of God, felt nothing hut horror for the august sacrament of our altars, and an inflexible aversion for all the exercises of religion. When exhorted to bless the name of the Lord, the spirit of blasphemy seized upon her, and made her break out in imprecations. In the excess of her fury, she was sometimes tempted to kill herself, that she might, as she said, be sooner in hell, there to taste the pleasure of cursing God during all eternity. The superior of the house, after having uselessly exhausted all the remedies of art, and a part of those furnished by religion, applied to her with the liveliest confi­dence and devotion a small piece of the rochet of St. Francis of Sales; but that expedient did not succeed until some days afterwards, when Vincent having joined to it, in the course of his visit, the most fervent prayers, applied the relic him­self, as if the holy bishop had wished to make it known, after his death, that he accepted the services which a priest whose virtue he had honored during his life, was pleased to render him in the person of his tlaughters.

However desirous our saint was, not to multiply the estab lishments of his company, he found that he could not long resist the solicitations of a number of ‘respectable persons, who, charmed with the good done by hismissionaries, asked for them with the most earnest entreaties. The diocess of Toul had just obtained them. Marie de Wignerod, who al­ways honored Vincent as we honor the saints who are still upon earth, begged some also for her duchy of Aiguillon. The cardinal minister, whose requests amounted to orders, wished them both for the city of Richelieu. and the diocess of Luçon, of which he had been bishop. To fill the vacuum made in consequence of these new establishments, our saint determined to form an internal seminary, where he would receive, not only priests already formed to the functions of the ministry, as had been done heretofore, but also young men less advanced, and who stood in need of being cultivated for a longer time.

An employment of such importance required a virtuous, capable, and experienced director; mild without weakness, firm without harshness, watchful without affectation, capable of Bumbling others without discouraging them, of managing the wagering without infringing on the rule, of strengthening those entrusted to him as much by his example as by the unction of his aiscourses; of distinguishing what is true and solid, from what has only the appearances of it, and who above all, should possess the great art of the discernment of souls. Vincent found all these qualities in the person of Jean de la Salle, one of his three first associates. He charged him with the care of this young and precious band, destined to combat one day for the salvation of the people; and besides the advice which he gave him, he desired him to consult those who, at that time, had the reputation of being the most succes­ful in forming youth to the apostolical functions.

The servant of God always hoped that Providence, which had given birth to his congregation, would furnish subjects capable of fulfilling all the duties of it. His grand maxim was, that it belonged to God alone to choose his ministers; and that the vocations to which artifice gives rise, and which a kind of dishonesty nourishes, dishonor the flock in multi­plying it.

To avoid the first of these faults, he made it an inviolable rule never to say a word to any one to induce him to enter into his congregation, and he strictly forbade his children ever to solicit any one. He would not even suffer them to bias any who might appear to have an inclination that way; and when a person hesitated between another company and his own, he was no ways backward in deciding against the latter. ” 0 Sir!” said he, ” we are not worthy to be compared with that other holy community. Go to it, in the name of the Lord, you will be incomparably better off there than with us.”

With regard to those who, having already taken their fina, resolution, begged admission of him, he did not receive them but with the greatest circumspection. He examined into their motives, dispositions, talents, and family. He represented to them, with a sort of exaggeration, the difficulties attached to the state which they desired to embrace. He asked them whether they would have fortitude enough,’ to bid an eternal adieu to their parents, to their most intimate friends, even to their country, should it become necessary to send them to foreign lands. The most precise answers on their part, did not satisfy this wise institutor. He required them to return several times, that he might be better acquainted w ith them; and whatever trial he might have made of their dispositions and perseverance, he never gave them his last word, until after they had made a retreat to consult the will of God.

To avoid the second fault, which is a part of whatthe laws call fraud and unfairness, the saint most carefully avoided to present youth only with flowers during the time of their trial, waiting to show them the thorns, for the time when they should have taken the last step. The plan of his seminary has no­thing in it, it is true, which can overcharge nature; but it has all that is necessary to make every one feel the weight of the obligations that are to be contracted. Neither hair-cloth, nor mortifications, nor other fasts than those which oblige all the faithful, are prescribed; but in place of them, that is required which commonly costs much more, a complete separation from the world, an interior life, great fidelity to all duties, and, if possible, an inexhaustible fund of that holy unction, which must one day sustain men engaged in their state, in the most laborious functions of the ministry. It is with that view that they have always been accustomed to a painful and laborious life. To rise exactly at four o’clock in the morning during the most rigorous season ; to make two meditations a day, and always in common ; to nourish themselves by the reading of books best suited to young ecclesiastics; to pass no day without reading, and even committing to memory some por­tion of the New Testament; to purify themselves by fre­quent confessions, strengthen themselves by holy commu­nions, render to themselves at the end of each month, in a little retreat, an account of the progress which they have made in virtue, or rather of that which they have failed to make. These are a portion of the occupations of the internal seminary.

From this career, when they have completed it well, they pass to that of study. They espouse the opinions of no par­ticular school: Plato and Aristotle are there esteemed, but truth is valued more than Aristotle and Plato. The great rule is, never to look upon any thing as true which the church has condemned, and to reprobate whatever she has thought proper to proscribe. This was the rule of Vincent of Paul, and it will always be that of his true children.

But if this holy man required that his company should be thoroughly instructed, as well in the dogmas which they were obliged to announce to the people, as in the morals ne­cessary to guide them properly, his humility which nothing could escape, induced him to take extraordinary measures to remove from them that conceit and vanity, which are too fre­quently the companions of talents and knowledge. When he was charged with the direction of the seminaries, he proved by a long and judicious written argument, that, with the ap­probation of the bishops, it would be sufficient to explain a printed author, by pointing out the places where he had gone astray from the truth. He would have taken in very bad part, that any of the members of his company, when as­sisting at public disputes in the university and elsewhere, should not have looked upon themselves as the last of all, in every respect; and much more so, should they have shown a disposition to appear thefirst. I will give a singular and very striking example of it.

Jacques Corborand de la Fosse, an orator, a philosopher, a theologian, and so good a poet that Santenie looked upon him as his rival and often as his master, went one day to a tragedy which was to be represented in a famous college of Paris, and took a seat which was destined for other parsons. The principal sent him word by a servant to take another place. La Fosse, whom the spectacle had enlivened, said in good La­tin to the servant who did not understand him, that he was well where he was, and did not think proper to change. The principal, hearing the answer, took him for a foreigner, and sent him a young regent, who paid him in Latin the same com­pliment that had already been paid him in French. La Fosse who possessed the language of Demosthenes perfectly, re­turned in Greek, compliments which tended to express that he did not like to change his place. The professor not being able to answer, returned to the principal and gave him an ac­count of the bad success of his mission. The principal, fa­tigued at the delaÿ, deputed to him the regent of rhetoric; but La Fosse spoke Hebrew to •him. It was then, that a learned man of the company recognised him, and had him placed ac­cording to his merit and with great distinction.

As he was quite full of this adventure, he had no sooner returned to St. Lazarus, than he related it indiscreetly to his friends with all the fire of his imaginatibn. Vincent was soon Informed of it; and although he saw well that this was only, a joke on the part of this young priest, he thought that he should mortify him a little. After having represented to him that a truly humble man does not seek the first places, nor to make himself known in public by his talents, he directed him to go and ask pardon of the principal and of the two regents whom he had disedified. La Fosse, who was never inflated by his talents, obeyed without saying a word. As he had to deal with persons who knew how to esteem merit, he was received with the greatest respect: it is even said that he was so well pleased with them, that, under a new impulse of his enthusiasm, he returned them his thanks in French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; but fearing another lesson, he did not boast of it.

With this talent for keeping his priests in humility, the ser­vant of God had also that of encouraging them in their la­bors. Without ever praising them in their presence, he knew how to keep up a holy emulation in them, by his example, by the unction of his words, and by the care he took to make known to them the blessings which God bestowed upon the labors of their brethren. On the other hand, they were all well persuaded of the affection which he had for them. A father could not love his children more tenderly than he loved them. His tenderness manifested itself in the reprimands which he was sometimes obliged to give them. In him they lost all that bitterness which seem inseparable from them.

It was above all in the persecutions which they had to un­dergo, or in their sickness, that they experienced his affection. He was not one of those devout persons who, always full of attention for themselves in their sickness, are satisfied with giving vague orders for the comfort of others, without seeming to care much about the execution of them. Vincent exam­ined personally whether they were treated, as became men who often suffered from excess of labor; and he gave such express orders, that no one would have dared infringe them. Hence they could be seen flying instantly to the most barba­rous countries, or to provinces where pestilence and death reigned; because they were sure to receive from him the best treatment, or from God the crown which he has prepared for those who combat to the end.

At the commencement of the following year, they give him a new proof of their obedience, in a celebrated mission, which cost them a great deal. It was performed at Saint-Germain, where the king was with all his court. Vincent would have desired it to be made by other persons. His priests, destined to the salvation of the poor country people, seemed to him little calculated to evangelize the great ones of the world. But Louis XIII, having insisted on having his missionaries, he was obliged to obey. The commencement was trying. The firmness with which, in the sacred tribunal, they wished to oblige worldly females to observe modesty, produced a great commotion. They complained aloud of the pretended severity of the confessors, and ridiculed them in every way. But those men, who were accustomed to walk. straight forward, continued to preach the gospel in all its filt­hy, and to exclude from the participation of the holy mysteries, those persons, who, sometimes without passions, them­selves, appear in such a manner as to excite them in others, and occasion the loss of multitudes.

However the calm soon succeeded the tempest. The unc­tion of the spirit of God touched those who made the most noise. They even became so fervent, that having joined the charitable confraternity, of which we have so often spoken, they served the poor in person, and procured them most abun­dant help. There was scarcely a person in the house of the king, who did not endeavor to profit by the graces which hea­ven showered with so much abundance. That religious prince was very much affected by it, and he had the goodness to say to one of these worthy ministers, that he was very well satisfied with the exercises of the mission; that it was the proper manner to labor successfully, and that he would bear this testimony every where.

The cardinal of Richelieu, laborious as he was, ibund the labors of the missionaries excessive. He directed the holy in­stitutor to give them a day of relaxation every week. Thus it is to the attention of that great minister that they still owe their weekly day of rest.

The queen was at that time in the early stage of preg­nancy, and she gave a dauphin to France, that very year, after being married twenty-two years. To testify her gratitude to God, she displayed a great and pious liberality. The es­teem in which she held Vincent of Paul did not allow her to forget the house of St. Lazarus. She made a present to the sacristy which was very poor, of a beautiful ornament of silver cloth. It seemed to have come in good season for the feast of Christmas. However, the humility of the saint would not permit him to use it. It was absolutely necessary to give him one of a more common quality.

Ann of Austria knew so well, by the effects of the first mission of Saint-Germain, what a truly apostolical zeal is ca­pable of, that four years afterwards, she asked a second mis­sion for the same city. It is true she had principally in view the salvation of a great number of laborers who were working at the buildings of the chateau : but the whole court profited by it. The queen assisted every evening, with great fervor and devotion, at the sermons of a missionary distinguished by his talents and his apostolic zeal. Another gave every day in the chateau itself instructions of piety to the ladies of the queen. What was most singular, the dauphin, who was scarcely three years old, had, in his way, a share in the bles­sings of the house. Ann of Austria absolutely insisted that he should he taught his little catechism; and it was a young ecclesiastic of the congregation that was charged with this honorable duty.

It was probably this year that Vincent of Paul hail the con­solation of seeing Mr. Quériolet, that man who, from being a decided and scandalous libertine, had become a model of pen­ance. but of a penance so frightful, that antiquity itself scarcely affords any thing to be compared with it. Mr. Bernard, sur­named the poor priest, who was like himself, a sensible proof of the power of the grace of Jesus Christ, accompanied him in the visits which he paid to some persons of eminent virtue. The reverend Father de Condren and Vincent of Paul were of the number. Mr. de Quériolet had with each of them a private conference, of which historians.have not preserved the details, but which doubtless tended to animate his perseve­rance. It was at the sight of these perfect christians, that Vincent sotnetitnes cried out: “I alone. a miserable sinner, do nothing but evil upon earth; I ought to desire that God would be pleased to remove me soon from it.”

Yet this man; who looked upon himself as the most useless servant, was so much occupied and in so holy a manner, from morning till night, that his life was only a train of good works. We cannot even now conceive how a man so infirm, and who never omitted his exercises of piety, could attend so many different occupations, answer exactly such a prodigious number of letters received from all quarters, and form with so much care the two companies which he instituted. But these good works, which would suffice to exhaust others, cost him little. The remainder of his history will afford us some of greater importance.

  1. Aderant plerumque magni nominis episcopi. Plum ccetum ani­mabat Vincentius, quem c>Zm disserentem avidi audiremus, tune im­pleri sentiebamus Apostollcum Mud: Si quis loquitur, tanquam sermones Dei.. Haec coram Deo in Christo loquor. Benig. Bossuet, in Epist ad Clementem XI die 2 .Augusti, 1702.
  2. Mémoire de Lancelot sur Saint-Cyran. t. 1, p. 287.
  3. Dominique George, born in Lorraine in 1631, died at Val Richer in 1693. His life has been written by Father fluffier, in 1696.
  4. Gaston Jean Baptiste, baron de Renty, born in the diocess of Baieux in 1611, died the 24th of April 1648. Dr. Burnet, bishop of Salisbury, has done justice to his virtues.
  5. I follow here Mr. Abelli, bishop of Rhodes, author of the first life of St. Vincent of Paul, on account of the importance of the subject.