When was Vincent de Paul Born?

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoVincent de PaulLeave a Comment

CREDITS
Author: Rafael Villarroya, C.M. · Translator: Charles T. Plock, C.M.. · Source: Vincentian Online Library.
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1. Documentation

Vincent: In written documents that were gathered together by Coste, Vincent spoke about his age on seventeen different occasions (Roman, p.24, note 5 [English edition]; CCD III:72 [I don’t understand the reason for this reference since there is no mention of Vincent’s age. I place it here because it appears in the Spanish text]; VIII:133, VIII:184; Conferences of Vincent de Paul to the Missionaries, Extract of a Conference, April or May 1657, p.367-368 [Again, I do not understand the reason for this reference since there is no mention of Vincent’s age. I place it here because it appears in the Spanish text], Extract from a Conference, no date, p.379).

Abelly: Vincent was born in 1576 on Easter Tuesday.

Collet: Vincent was born on April 24, 1576, Easter Tuesday.

Maynard: Vincent was born on April 24, 1576, Easter Tuesday.

Coste: Vincent was born on April 21, 1581.

Roman: Interpreting the data provided by Vincent himself, one is inclined to lean toward the date of April 24, 1580. This interpretation rests upon our acceptance of viewing Vincent’s word as referring to years completed (Roman, p.25, note 6 [English edition]; X Semana de Salamanca p.46-172 [Translator’s Note: I do not have access to this work so I cite it as it appears in the Spanish text]).

2. Notes concerning Vincent’s date of birth

1.2.1 In the texts referred to above, Vincent spoke about his present age or about an upcoming birthday. He never spoke directly about the date of his birth. It must be remembered that when Pope Gregory XIII introduced the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, ten days were dropped, that is, October 4, 1562 became October 15, 1582. This change was accepted in France by a decree of King Henry III and thus December 15, 1582 became December 25, 1582.

1.2.2. This change of calendars accounts for the difficulties when attempting to calculate the day and month on which people were born before the change took place [In France, this difficulty would involve those persons born before the 15th of December 1582]. For example, if Vincent was born on Easter Tuesday, March 18, 1581 then when he said in 1639 that “next April I will enter my 60th year….”, he was speaking the truth because even though he was born in March, he would complete those years [60] in April. In fact, he would complete 60 years on April 17. Therefore, if we hold that Vincent was born on April 24, 1576, 1580, or 1581, Vincent would have had to say “next May….”, in fact he would have then been referring to May 4.

3 Conclusions

Year: The year 1576 can be disregarded. This year holds no weight when considering the seventeen references in Vincent’s writings. Certainly 1581 is possible, but the better date seems to be 1580 (Coste 1:3 [English edition]; Roman p.23-25 [English edition]).

Month: We have to admit the possibility of his birthday occurring in the month of April [Vincent states this clearly when he said: “next April I will enter…”]. It must be noted, however, that we speak of his birth date, March 22-31 are also possible and that the dates April 21-30 should be disregarded.

Day: Easter Tuesday.

This day would certainly be possible in the year 1580. Vincent would have been born on April 5 and thus would have celebrated his birthday [from 1583 forward] on April 15.

This day is also possible for the year 1581. Vincent would have been born on March 28 and would have celebrated his birthday [from 1583 forward] on April 7.

This day is not possible for the year 1576. Vincent would have been born on April 24 and then celebrated his birthday on May 4 — this is contrary to what he said on October 12, 1639: “next April….”.

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