A crucial moment in the life of Vincent came when he listened to a deathbed confession of a dying servant. This experience would shed light on what he saw as a call to satisfy the spiritual needs of the poor in France. In this article, you will learn more about St. Vincent, as well as the legacy of St. Agnes.
Saint Vincent’s Day
After helping the servant of Countess de Gondi, she was able to convince her husband to fund and support a group of competent and enthusiastic missionaries that would work with the poor tenant farmers and people living in the country.
With a humble disposition, Vincent did not accept the leadership position in the beginning, but after working in Paris for a while with imprisoned slaves, he returned to the group with the desire to lead. The group then became known as the Congregation of the Mission (or the Vincentians). The priest, who took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, devoted their lives to specifically helping the people living in smaller towns and villages.
Later on, Vincent established confraternities of charity that fulfilled the spiritual and physical needs of the poor and sick associated with each parish. With the help of an organized group of wealthy women in Paris, funds were collected for his missionary projects. The money went to founding many hospitals. He also used the money to give relief to victims of war. He also paid for the release of more than 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa.
Vincent was also passionate in holding retreats for clergy to combat some of the negligence, abuse and ignorance that had the potential to run rampant amongst his field. He also played an important role in creating seminaries. All of this was accomplished in a man that had been described as having a grumpy disposition. Vincent attributed the grace of God as turning his unrelenting character traits into a disposition that was sensitive to the needs of others.
Because of his contributions, Pope Leo XIII designated him the patron of all charitable societies.
St. Agnes Day
The information on the saint named Agnes is scarce. What is known is that she was very young (about 12 or 13 years old) and that she was martyred in the last half of the third century. The way she died in speculated with theories ranging from being burned, beheaded or strangled. The legend regarding Agnes was that she was a striking girl that many young men wanted to make their wife. She refused the requests of would-be suitor, and as retaliation, one of the men reported her to the authorities as being a Christian.
As a result, Agnes was arrested and sent to a house of prostitution. It is said that a man who looked at her in a lustful way, lost his sight as a consequence, but that she was able to restore his vision through prayer. She was eventually condemned, executed, and buried close to Rome in a catacomb that would later share her name. St. Agnes Day is celebrated in January, on the 21st of the month.