On September 27, we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul (1580-1660). He was a French priest who dedicated his life’s work to serving those in need.
Born into a large peasant family, Vincent de Paul knew hard work and poverty. His parents, seeing his quick intelligence, sold their oxen to raise money to send Vincent to the seminary. As a young priest, Vincent was introduced to the extremely wealthy of the French elite. Ironically, it was through the actions of a wealthy woman that brought Vincent back to his roots and onto his true vocation. She ministered to the peasants on her land, and brought Vincent along to do baptisms, etc. Seeing conditions much worse than his own childhood, he soon began work to improve as many lives as possible. He used his contacts with both the rich and poor to do the work he knew God wanted him to do.
Here is a short story of Vincent to share with child. It may appeal to the natural generosity children often exhibit. As they learn about him, consider choosing a child sponsorship or hunger relief program to support as a family or begin a project within your parish that raises money for similar programs.
BELONGING TO GOD
A good man named Vincent hurried along a dark, dangerous road. He carried a lantern, for thieves were about. All over France, people were hungry, sick, cold and homeless because of an evil queen and other leaders. Their selfish ways caused much suffering. People had to steal to get any food.
“Stop!” came a man’s voice in the darkness.
Vincent halted, holding the lantern up to his face. So many people knew him from his work they usually let him go peacefully.
“It is you!” the man said. “Here!”
Vincent felt a baby being thrust into his arms. “We have no food, no home. You are his only hope!” the man said quickly and then hurried off.
A thin blanket was all the little one had on this cold night. Vincent wrapped the baby into his own cloak and hurried off.
Vincent had been a poor child too. When he grew up, he became a priest. Through that work, he met both poor and rich people. The poor needed his help. So did the rich, who needed to learn how to help. Both came to him.
Vincent set up places for hungry people to get healthy food. He started hospitals, orphanages and schools. To do this, he went to his friends who had lots of money. Vincent convinced them to share their money and their time. Some of the rich women came to the hospitals and scrubbed floors and washed blankets. Others went to orphanages, held babies, cooked food and fed children. Because of Vincent’s work, many sick people got well, many children were loved and fed, and even more went to school.
It was to one of the orphanages that Vincent headed to now. The baby, warmer now, slept in his arms. He prayed for this little one, and then said softly, “You belong to God. Let that color your whole life. Give yourself to God every moment, with every beat of your heart.”
CELEBRATE ST. VINCENT!
Feasting: Some sources say that St. Vincent not only set up what today might be called a soup kitchen, but he also researched to find recipes that were both nutritious and economical. Serve bread and “St. Vincent’s Soup”—any hearty soup which children enjoy.
Decorating/Activities: St. Vincent said, “You belong to God. Let that color your whole life.” Have children help you create a canopy over the table with a brightly-colored gauze fabric to symbolize God’s love encompassing them and coloring their lives.
Prayer:Dear St. Vincent de Paul, When you lived on earth, there were many people who were hungry and homeless. Now it is our time on earth, and there are also many people who are hungry and homeless. Please ask God to help us grow to be strong with His love, and come to help with these problems as you did. Amen.
P.S. Interested in more short saint stories and celebration suggestions like this one? Go to https://anneneuberger.com/product/a-circle-of-saints-stories-and-activities-for-children/