St. Vincent de Paul was born between 1576 and 1581. He grew up poor, but he was very bright, and began studying theology around the age of 15. In the year 1600, he was ordained as a priest and began tutoring students in Toulouse.
In 1605, Vincent was seized by Turkish pirates and sold as a slave. He remained captive until 1607, when he converted his owner to Christianity, and they escaped.
Once he was free, he began studying in Rome and became a spiritual guide to members of a wealthy French family. During this time, Vincent heard the confession of a dying peasant, and was moved to help the poor materially and spiritually. He also had a special place in his ministry for convicts who were forced to serve as rowers on gallery ships.
In 1625, Vincent established the Congregation of Priests of the Mission. They worked to evangelize rural populations and encourage vocations. He was also involved in the creation of the Daughters of Charity with St. Louise de Marillac, a congregation of religious women formed to tend to the sick, poor, and imprisoned.
Vincent is remembered for his personal humility despite his great works and accomplishments. He used his reputation and connections to help the Church and serve the poor.
St. Vincent died on Sept. 27, 1660. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737, and in 1835, Blessed Frederic Ozanam created the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a lay Catholic organization dedicated to serving the poor.