Vincent, Letter 0003. To His Mother, In Pouy

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Author: Vincent de Paul .
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February 17, 16101

Mother,

The assurance that Monsieur de Saint-Martin2 has given me with regard to your good health has gladdened me, as much as the prolonged sojourn which I must necessarily make in this city3 in order to regain my chances for advancement (which my disasters took from me) grieves me, because I cannot come to render you the services I owe you. But I have such trust in God’s grace, that He will bless my efforts and will soon give me the means of an honorable retirement4 so that I may spend the rest of my days near you5.I spoke of the state of my affairs to Monsieur de Saint-Martin who told me that he wished to continue the benevolence and affection which Monsieur de Comet so kindly manifested for us. I asked him to tell you all about it.

I should very much like to know how things are at home, and whether all my brothers and sisters6 and our other relatives and friends are well, and especially whether my brother Gayon is married and to whom. Also, how is everything with my sister Marie, at Paillole?7 Is she still alive and sharing the house with her brother-in-law Bertrand? As for my other sister, I imagine she cannot but be well-off, so long as God is pleased to give her a companion. I should also like my brother to have one of my nephews study8.My misfortunes and the little service that I have as yet been able to render at home may make him unwilling to do so, but let him reflect that the present misfortune presupposes good luck in the future.

That is all, Mother, that I can tell you at present, except that I entreat you to offer my humble respects to all my brothers and sisters and to all our other relatives and friends. I pray to God unceasingly for your health and for the prosperity of the family, as one who is and who shall be for you, Mother, a most humble, most obedient, and helpful son and servant.

DEPAUL

I entreat you to offer my humble respects to all my brothers and sisters and to all our relatives and friends, especially to Bétan.

  1. Saint-Vincent-de-Paul (Landes). Saint Vincent was born in this little village about eight kilometers from Dax. A large complex of buildings now occupies the place where he came into the world.
  2. Probably Jean de Saint-Martin, husband of Catherine de Comet, brother of Canon de Saint-Martin, and judge of Pouy. M. de Comet the younger apparently had died before 1610.
  3. According to Abelly (op. cit., vol. I, chap. V, beginning, p. 20), Saint Vincent came to Paris from Rome around the end of 1608 as an envoy from Cardinal d’Ossat to Henri IV. No document of the period mentions this secret mission, and it is certain that Cardinal d’Ossat had nothing to do with it, since he had died on March 13, 1604.
  4. On May 17, 1610, Saint Vincent was given the benefice that he was expecting, the Abbey of Saint-Léonard de Chaulmes in the diocese of Saintes (Charente-Maritime). (Cf. vol. XIII, no. 9.)
  5. How greatly this language differs from that which Saint Vincent will use later when he has had more contact with souls, seen their needs, felt their sufferings, and heard their appeals.
  6. We know from Abelly (op. cit., vol. II, chap. II, beginning, p. 7) that Vincent de Paul was the third child in a family of four boys and two girls. In a notarized document dated September 4, 1626, signed Vincent Depaul, mention is made of “Bernard and Gayon Depaul, brothers of the said Sieur Vincent Depaul,” the latter “his second brother,” of Marie [Marie-Claudine] Depaul, his sister, wife of Grégoire,” and of another “Marie Depaul, his sister,” widow of “Jehan de Paillole.” A document dated May 12, 1631, published in the Revue de Gascogne (1905, pp. 354-357), mentions “Pierre Depaul, called De Leschine,” son of “the late Jehan Depaul.” If we compare a letter from M. Lostalot, dated September 25, 1682 (Arch. of the Priests of the Mission), with the registers of Catholicity, we are led to conclude that Pierre de Paul was the Saint’s nephew and, consequently, that his father was Vincent’s brother. Jean was not mentioned in the 1626 document because he had already died. Jean, Bernard, Gayon, Marie, and another Marie: such then were the names of Saint Vincent’s brothers and sisters, but there is nothing to tell us in what order to place them.
  7. Paillole was the name of the house in which the Saint’s sister lived. The house was near the church, where another house bearing the same name now stands.
  8. One of Saint Vincent’s nephews studied and became a priest. In fact, in a register of the prebendaries of Capbreton (Landes) we read: “M. François Depaul, priest, prebendary of Capbreton in the place of M. Jean de Ponteils, died on June 8, 1678. He was a native of Pouy near d’Acqs, and a nephew of M. Vincent, priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Priests of the Mission.” (Archives of M. l’abbé Gabarra, Pastor of Capbreton.)

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