Other Key Vincentian Figures

Rosalie Rendu

Blessed Rosalie Rendu
  • Date of birth:   8th September 1787
  • Place of birth:   Confort , France
  • Parentage:   Successful business people
  • Occupation:   Daughter of Charity
  • Death:   7th February 1856
  • Canonisation as saint:   Her cause has been introduced, beatified on 9th November 2003
  • Feast day:   7th February

As a novice, Sr. Rosalie was a sensitive and nervous person. She would have seemed an unlikely woman to spend 50 years of her life helping Paris ' most impoverished.

When, in 1803, she arrived in one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Paris , she was horrified by the poverty caused as a result of the civil revolution. She and her sisters distributed relief in the form of clothing, food and linen, and ran a school for children. She also used her energy to pressure the authorities and to involve others in her work.

Through Rosalie's assistance, Frederic and his companions made their first contact with the poor. Because Rosalie's good work had made her a recognised household name, the new group gained an instant respect which they would not have had otherwise.

In Montparnasse Cemetery, a white stone cross simply marks her grave which, for over one hundred years, continues to be decorated with flowers by unknowns who perhaps remember that the destinies of Frederic Ozanam and Sr. Rosalie mingled in the love of the poor forged lasting bonds between the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Order of the Daughters of Charity.


Catherine Laboure

Catherine Laboure

  • Date of birth:   2nd May 1806
  • Place of birth:   Fain-les-Moutiers , France
  • Parentage:   Peasant farmers
  • Occupation:   Daughter of Charity & Servant of the Poor
  • Death:   31st December 1876
  • Canonisation as saint:   27th July 1947
  • Feast day: 28th November

Catherine was the ninth child of Pierre and Louise Laboure in a family of eight boys and three girls. When her mother died at the age of 42 and her eldest sister Marie-Louise joined the Daughters of Charity, Catherine and her young sister Tonine were left to help their father to look after the children and the farm.

When she was nearly nineteen a strange dream strengthened the idea she had about the purpose of her life.

She dreamed she was praying in the church at Fains, while at the altar an old priest was celebrating Mass. When it was over he turned and beckoned to her. "My child" he said to her "It is good to care for the sick". "God has designs on you". "Do not forget it".

In 1828 Catherine was twenty two years of age and Tonine was Twenty. The latter was now able to replace her sister on the farm. The moment had arrived to speak to her father of her religious vocation. Her father, Peirre, would have nothing to do with it and in an effort to distract her, he took her to Paris to visit her married brother, Charles, whose wife was the principal of a school at Chatilloz.

It was while she was staying with her sister-in-law that she decided to visit a house of the Sisters of Charity in the town. After being shown into the parlour a picture on the wall attracted her attention - the picture of an old priest - the priest of her dreams at Fains - but who was he?  "Our founder, St Vincent de Paul"  replied the young sister who was with her.

The miraculous medalSo this was God's design. She was to become a Daughter of Charity. On 21st April 1830 she passed through the great door of the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity 140 Rue de Bac to begin her time of formation.

On the night of the Feast of St Vincent, 1830, Catherine in a mystical experience was led to the sanctuary of the chapel where Our Lady appeared to her, sat in the chair of Father Rector whilst Catherine knelt at Her feet.

A further apparition followed on 27th November 1830 in which Our Lady asked Catherine to have a special medal struck. This was the origin of the Miraculous Medal which was first distributed in May 1832.

The remainder of Catherine's life was spent working in a hospice for old men in Enghien. She died on 31st December 1876.


Justine Bisqueyburu

The Green ScapularThe Green ScapularOn Jan. 28, 1840, in Paris, France , the Blessed Virgin appeared to Sr. Justine Bisqueyburu, a Seminary Sister of the Daughters of Charity. This began a series of visits which culminated in a special gift of Mary: The Green Scapular.

On Jan. 28, 1840 , in Paris , France , the Blessed Virgin appeared to Sr. Justine Bisqueyburu, a Seminary Sister of the Daughters of Charity. This began a series of visits which culminated in a special gift of Mary:

The Green Scapular

The first four or five visits of Mary with Sr. Justine seemed to have no other end than to deepen in the Sister her relationship to the Mother of God. However, shortly after she had received the habit of the Daughters of Charity and had been sent to serve the poor, she received during prayer another apparition of the Blessed Virgin. Mary held in her right hand her heart surrounded by flames, and in her left, a type of scapular. This scapular consisted of a single small piece of green cloth suspended from a cord of the same colour. On one side of the piece of cloth was a picture of the Blessed Virgin as she had shown herself in the apparitions. On the other was a heart all inflamed with rays more brilliant than the sun and clearer than crystal.

Our Lady's heart, pierced with a sword, was surrounded by an oval inscription surmounted by a cross. The inscription read, "Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death." At the same time, an interior voice revealed to Sr. the meaning of the vision.

She understood that this new scapular and the prayers of those who used it would be a means that God would use to bring Himself those who had no faith and to reconcile those who had strayed from their faith. Thus would they be assured of a happy death. The green scapular was distributed, and God granted wonderful conversions and some bodily cures.

The Use of the Green Scapular:

The scapular may be worn about the neck, or hung in the person's room, or placed under the pillow, or kept in a wallet, or placed in their clothing. The prayer surrounding the heart should be repeated daily.

The GREEN scapular or badge is one of the most famous scapulars, which enjoys privileges similar to the BROWN scapular of Mt. Carmel . Great gifts of the Green scapular are for cures and conversions.

There is no investiture for this scapular. You must have it blessed by a Priest, and someone (the wearer preferably) should say the following prayer as often as possible, at least once daily:



Blessed Contardo Ferrini

Contardo Ferrini

  • Date of birth:   4th April 1859
  • Place of birth:   Milan
  • Parentage:   ?
  • Occupation:   Professor
  • Death:   17th October 1902
  • Canonisation as saint:   Not yet, but now Blessed

He was baptised at the font at which Frederic Ozanam was baptised 46 years previously. First Communion at the age of 12 proved to be a turning point in his life. He developed an intense spiritual life, joining the Blessed Sacrament Confraternity, his whole life centred around the Blessed Sacrament.

After a short stay at Milan University , he proceeded to the University of Pavia at the age of 17. After two years at Pavia , he was appointed Dean of the students. He was a prolific writer and in correspondence revealed an intensity in spiritual matters hardly to be expected in a layman.

In 1880 Contardo entered Berlin University with a scholarship. As a Member of the SVP his first introduction to the work was by his father who was a member in Milan . In Berlin , he was active in their chief work, visiting the poor in their homes. It is on record that he was greatly edified by what he saw in the poor, good-living families. In July 1882 he returned home from his happy stay in Berlin .

Contardo received his first professorship at the early age of 26 and held such appointments successfully at four Universities. He was prolific as a research worker and also had a profound knowledge of the scriptures and could speak and write in several languages.. During the next 20 years he published over 200 works, books, articles and reviews. In spite of his brilliant attainments he bore no trace of affectation but remained to the end simple, humble and loveable. He spent little on himself and gave generously.

Contardo's spiritual life is reflected in his writing. He developed the theological side in determination to prove Christianity a living, not an outworn force. He was no mere apologist, behind all he wrote was the apostolic ideal of service to his fellow men in helping them towards fulfillment of the purpose of life.

In January 1902 Contardo's health began to fail and he passed away in October after receiving the Papal blessing. He was beatified on 13th April 1947 - a proud day for the SVP which saw one of its brothers, a true spiritual heir of Frederic Ozanam, raised to exalted office. His feast day is 17th October, the day of his death.


Fr Ignatius Spencer

  • Date of birth:   21 December 1799Fr Ignatius Spencer
  • Parentage: Son of the second Earl Spencer, George John Spencer, at that time First Lord of the Admiralty. He was the youngest of seven children whose descendents would include Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales .
  • Place of birth:   Admiralty House, London
  • Death:   1st October 1864

Born, George Spencer, in Admiralty House in 1799, father Spencer grew up at the family home in Althorp, where Princess Diana was buried after she was killed in a Paris car crash in August 1997.

He turned his back on a life of immense wealth and comfort when he converted to Catholicism - a move that shocked his contemporaries. He joined the newly formed Passionists and changed his name from George to Ignatius. He spent the rest of his life in missionary work and was heroic in following his vow of poverty and ended up going out to Ireland to work with the victims of the potato famine. He became a tireless apostle for the conversion of England to the Catholic faith until his death in 1864.

It was Father Ignatius Spencer who first brought to the attention of Catholics in England and Wales in the Society of St Vincent de Paul. On a number of visits to Paris he had met members from the first conference and had been impressed with their commitment towards the poor. In September of 1842 he received a visit at Monsieur Baudon who became the Society's President- General in 1847.

The purpose of Monsieur Baudon's visit was to try and create interest in the SVP and he was successful in persuading Father Spencer to write an account of the Society and its work in the "Catholic Magazine". Little interest was shown at first but on the 29 th January 1844, M. Pagliano, a London restaurant keeper who was a recent convert to the Catholic Faith, managed to gather 13 Catholic men together in London and the first English Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded.

Father Spencer's body is entombed in St. Anne's and Blessed Dominic's Church in Sutton, St.Helens, alongside Blessed Dominic Barberi, an Italian Passionist priest beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1963.

In March 2007, Father Ignatius' cause for beatification was introduced. The Vatican have declared that Father Ignatius Spencer had led a life of "heroic virtue". The next step in this process would be a declaration from the Vatican that Father Ignatius is deemed to be 'Venerable'.


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