Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul began in Paris, France, in the year 1833 when a young law student at the Sorbonne, Frederic Ozanam, was challenged during a debate to demonstrate what he and his fellow Catholic students were personally doing to help the poor in the city of Paris. Ozanam’s reaction was immediate. Within weeks, Ozanam, at 20 years of age, and six of his peers formed the first “Conference of Charity.” Under the conference, this group of seven men financed their works of charity out of their own pockets and from contributions of well wishers. They visited the poor near their homes, providing them with needed aid and assistance. At the prompting of Monsieur Emmanuel Bailly and Sister Rosalie Rendu, superior of a convent of the Daughters of Charity, Ozanam soon placed the conference under the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul who had spent his life in 16th century serving the poor in France. Within few years, the original group of seven grew to 600, spreading to 15 other cities and towns in France, numbering more than 2,000 members. SVP gradually expanded outside Paris in the mid-19th century. From a small Conference of Charity, today the Society has spread throughout the world, thus fulfilling the wish of its founder “I would like to embrace the world in a network of Charity”.