Saint Vincent de Paul: The Iconography

In Paris, the natal day Not his birthday but the day he died and was "born again" into Heaven of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest, Confessor of the Congregation of Priests of the Mission, and founder of the Daughters of Charity, a man of apostolic virtue and a father to the poor. Pope Leo XIII named him patron saint of all the Societies of Charity deriving in any way whatever from his foundation. His feast is celebrated, however, on July 19. – Roman Martyrology for September 27

Vincent de Paul is a very popular saint in modern Catholicism. He is the founder of an order of priests with 4,000 current members and one of nuns with 18,000. The lay Society of St. Vincent de Paul counts 800,000 members serving the poor in 150 countries.1

Because his foundations were dedicated to serving the poor his statues most commonly show him as at right, with one child in arms and another at his side. He will be seen in the habit of his order, a black skullcap, cape, and cassock. Sometimes a crucifix will be substituted for one or both of the children, as in the second picture at right.

In most statues and portraits the face is quite like the postage stamp below. From the ears down it has a somewhat triangular shape, accented by a short, pointy beard.


German postage stamp from 1951 (See description page)

Prepared in 2015 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

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This is the most common type of statue of St. Vincent de Paul (See description page)


With a crucifix, a variation seen at times (See description page)

DATES

  • Feast day: Until 1969 it was July 19; thereafter, September 27.
  • Lived 1581-1660.

NOTES

1 Statistics for the Congregation of the Mission (order of priests): their home page. For the Society of St. Vincent de Paul: "A[n] International Implantation" and "SVP Starts in Suriname." For the Daughters of Charity: Who We Are.