The Founding of the Society by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam

Blessed Frederic Ozanam


"In my life I want to become better and do a little good"

Blessed Frédéric Ozanam - the Society's Founder 


Blessed Frédéric Ozanam was born on 23 April 1813 at Milan, which was French territory at this time. His parents were Jean Antoine Ozanam, a doctor and Marie Nantas, heiress to a silk business.


Blessed Frédéric went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University .


In Paris on 23rd April 1833, he led a group of six Sorbonne University students, who met with a middle-aged journalist, Emmanuel Baily, to form a group to be called the Conference of Charity. Their purpose was simple: as a small group of friends, they would become servants of the poor in Paris - just as Jesus Christ had been servant to the people of his time.

Blessed Frédéric, while speaking in defence of the Church in some fiery debates at the university, had been challenged by a young socialist: "What are you doing for the poor now? Show us your works!". Blessed Frédéric realised that talk alone would never give full witness to the truth. That same night he and some friends pooled what money they had and bought firewood for a poor family.

He continued leading the group with the help of Sr. Rosalie Rendu. Sr Rosalie 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, Blessed Frédéric 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.

He and his friends began to live the Gospel command 'show love to your neighbour' by visiting those living in dreadful poverty, and bringing what food and comfort they could. Others were moved by their example to commit themselves to serving the poor. They chose to call their group the Society of St Vincent de Paul, based on the exemplary charitable life led by Vincent.


By the age of 26 he had obtained a Doctorate in Law and a second doctorate in Literature.

Blessed Frédéric's life was very active. He became Professor of Commercial Law at the University of Lyon and later lecturer in Foreign Literature at the Sorbonne University in Paris, where he eventually became Professor in Foreign Literature.


He married Amélie Soulacroix in June 1841.


Blessed Frédéric died on 8 September 1853 at the age of 40 years.


Beatified by Pope John Paul II.