Where was Vincent de Paul Born?

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoVincent de PaulLeave a Comment

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

Vincent’s Words

Vincent: he states that he is French: “they [the Italians] think that we French act too quickly” (CCD:II:267). He is also a Gascon: “I entreat you to help a poor Gascon to do so” (CCD:II:82, note 20). He is from the Diocese of Dax: “His Lordship the Bishop of Dax, my own bishop (Conferences of Vincent de Paul to the Missionaries, Repetition of Prayer, March 12, 1656, p.311). He is from the village of Pouy: “She is my only Lady, since Divine Providence has made me her subject by my birth….[The Barony of Pouy became the property of the Ducs de Ventadour through the marriage of Charles de Levis to his first wife Catherine Suzanne de Lauzieres, the Daughter of Suzanne de Monluc and Antoine Marquis de Themines (CCD:VII:428, note 3).


Vincent de Paul, of the Diocese of Dax (CCD:XIIIa: Letters for Minor Orders, Dimissorial letters for subdiaconate, Letters for subdiaconate, Dimissorial letters for diaconate, Letters for diaconate, Dimissoriqal letters for priesthood, Letters for priesthood, p.2-7).

Vincent de Paul…. of the parish of Pouy (CCD:XIIIa: letters for tonsure, p.1; St. Vincent assumes the lease of Saint-Leonard de Chaumes Abbey, p.10; Deed of gift of St. Vincent to his relatives p.76).


Abelly: Vincent de Paul came into the world in the small town of Pouy near Dax, an Episcopal city in Landes of Bordeaux (Abelly 1:35 [English Edition]).

Collet: Vincent was born in a small hamlet of the parish of Pouy, in the Diocese of Acqs, toward the Pyrenees (Collet, p.9 [English Edition]).

Maynard: Vincent was born in the small hamlet of Ranquines, in the parish of Pouy, the Diocese of Dax, an Episcopal city in the Landes of Bordeaux (Maynard I:1 [French Edition]).

Coste: Vincent de Paul first saw the light…. On April 24, 1581, in a little village dear Dax, which now bears his name, but which was then called Pouy (Coste I:2 [English Edition]).

John of the Most Blessed Sacrament: an Augustinian who in 1701 in Naples published a biography of Vincent de Paul. After stating the names of Vincent’s parents (p.2) he says: Their family name is not French but rather appears to be of Spanish origin. This is easy to believe because the village in which they lived was very close to the Cataluna boarder — Tamarite de la Litera? [The 1886 and 1906 editions of this book change the phrase to read “near the Spanish boarder”]

2 Conclusion

Vincent was French, a Gasgon, from Landes, the Diocese of Dax, the parish of Pouy, the village of Ranquines.

3 The Spanish Question

While we can state with certainty that Vincent was not born in Spain, we cannot deny the possibility that his family origin might be Spanish. There are many solid facts that would allow one to take this position.

The last part of the 16th Century was a very difficult time for the north eastern part of Aragon and many people immigrated to France which became a refuge for people from the countryside and people who were being persecuted and oppressed in Aragon.

To come and go by way of the Pyrenees was very common. The Royal House was unable to maintain order among the Nobles (Rebellions of Count Ribagorza) and unable to control the vandalism that developed in this region.

Tamarite de la Litera, a town on the boarder of these social and political conflicts, was a true symbol of the instability of these times. It was a town of the Royal House but unable to defend itself against Ribagorza or against the bandits that were contracted by one or the other side of this uprising. When the official struggle ended, the people still had to contend with the group that had gathered around the famous bandit Pollonet de Tarmarite who continued the struggle and was protected by the Cataluna boarder where he often sought refuge (see; Colas y Salas, Aragon en el Siglo XVI. Alteraciones Sociales y Conflictos Politicos, and J.F. Soulet, La Vie Les Pyrenees [Translator’s Note: I do not have access to these books and give the citation here as it appears in the Spanish text]).

Besides these social and political matters, there are other reasons that are gathered together in the biography of Roman (Roman 29-30 [English edition]).

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