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it was found after a course of years that more was wanted.”
Thus speaks a Priest of Vincent's missionary congregation.
“ It was not enough that the father of the poor had established a congregation of Priests almost solely devoted to their service; Heaven willed that he should establish also one of women, wbose zeal should have as it were a still more extended scope, and who, without regard to age or sex, could perform all those offices which the apostolic ministry and the modes of society did not permit those priests to do. As the formation of the great establishment of which I speak is essentially united with the history I am writing, I must make known its origin, its functions, its progress.
“About seventeen years had passed from the time when Vincent de Paul had established the Confreries de la Charité in favour of sick poor. This association had passed from the country into the towns, and a good number of ladies of high condition had joined it. But all that which rendered their assemblies more brilliant rendered them also less useful. The first ladies had been those whose piety led them to serve the poor in their own person ; but of those who came after them many joined the association because it was the fashion ; others, truly, acted from purer motives, but then their husbands feared for them the effects of the bad air of sick rooms, and would not allow them to follow the dictates of their Now there are those of the French Protestants who deny that Vincent de Paul was the first projector of the work of Christian charity which has carried his name to the ends of the earth. They say it began on their side ; that it was the Protestants of France who began it and set him the example he followed. The author of the good work is, I believe, only know in the unhappy annals of their long suffering people. I think his name was Robert Le Marc. What I have been told by some of them is, that soon after the Bible in their own tongue began to be known, Robert Le Marc wishing to revive the scriptural institutions of which some hints are scattered in the Bible, especially in the Epistles, established an institution which was, I suppose, to be founded on that of which St. Paul seems to
Phæbe was a member when he commended her as a servant of the Church. And it is, I believe, on this authority, and to revive this defunct order that the interesting, and very Protestant Institution of Deaconesses was founded about thirteen years ago in Paris.
What became of the original one instituted by Robert Le Marc, or Robert Marc, I do not think is now known; it probably underwent the fate which institutions among ourselves frequently do, and ceased to exist. Mere zeal will not keep such things alive, for zeal itself will die. If dependent on the zeal, the protection, the guidance, direction of anything external to itself, a religious work has no security, no source of uninterrupted action; it must,
it is evident, be liable to a succession of change, varying with the various characters, talents, or it may be notions or doctrines of those who are set over it, or on whose direction it depends. It is only when its own inherent constitution is made its real director that any corporation, above all a religious one, can subsist unchanged.
This, however, may be wandering from the matter in hand. I referred to the lost institution of Robert Le Marc founded sixty years before that of Vincent de Paul, merely because, as persons of all shades of opinion in England appear now to admit the want of Sisters of Charity, it may be consolatory to some of them to know that their Protestant brethren of France tenaciously dispute the palm of priority with Vincent de Paul; and assert that a similar order was called into existence in aid of Protestantism in France, and for the relief of its sufferers, before Vincent bad even come into the world. Such, I believe, their history proves to have been the case; and thus we might conclude that Vincent only turned the enemy's arms upon themselves, at least in forming his auxiliary corps on the model they gave him.
Perhaps there will be nothing new to you in a brief and rapid sketch of the rise of this now veteran corps, and in the circumstances that led to its formation. It will not however, occupy much time,
. and I want to show you that the Lady of Charity which preceded Vincent de Paul's Sister of Charity, is the same we have adopted in almost every parish of England, under the title of District Visitor. We have taken our district visiting association root and branch from France where it was originally formed, and where it still is systematically carried on. But to keep to the history of the Sister, whom we have not taken, we must leave that of the Lady whom we have taken.
In that fearful epoch of French history, the reign of Henry III., the son of the dreadful Catharine de Medicis, the murderer of the mighty Guise, and himself, after his foolish wicked life had lasted it seemed too long, the victim of an assassin—at that epoch when the miseries of a civil and religious war, of famine, pestilence, poverty, and fear, were seen in conjunction with profanity, hypocrisy, licentiousness, vice, frivolity, vanity, and miserable follies -a peasant's wife in the remote and singular region of the Landes, near the Pyrenees, brought into the world a male child whose birth no one dreamed would be repeatedly recorded in print, and whose name no one thought would become known in almost all lands where the missionaries of CHRIST can go, or where the children of earth are suffering. That child was named Vincent, the name of his parents was De Paul.
His dispositions in boyhood produced the result that is common in France where the ecclesiastics are usually the sons of the people. Vincent became a Priest. The same dispositions caused his advancement. As
soon as he was capable of holding one, he was presented to a benefice ; but the Court of Rome had appointed another Curé, and Vincent de Paul, think ing the man of God should not strive, gave up his right. A lady made him her heir ; he went to Marseilles to receive the money from her executor, and actually got a small portion of it: returning to Toulouse, he was advised to go by sea instead of by land; he did so; the vessel was attacked by a Barbary corsair ; Vincent, wounded and taken captive, was, after a cruise with the pirates, carried to Tunis in chains and sold in the slave market. His purchaser was a fisherman who wished to employ him in his boat on the sea ; but the sea did not agree with the young priest-slave, and after a month's trial the fisherman sold him to an old chemist, pr alchemist, with whom he passed from the service of the water to that of the fire. He had a dozen furnaces to attend for the sage, who, he says, knew
, wonderful things. The learned old doctor offered repeatedly to make him partaker both of his knowledge and his riches if he would forsake the Gospel. But the priestly slave was invulnerable.
At last the Sultan Achmet I. haying heard of the skill of the alchemist, ordered the old man to come to Constantinople and work for him. The order was obeyed, as it needs must be, but it broke the old man's heart, and he died on the road. Vincent de Paul was sold then to a renegade, an apostate Frenchman-An apostate and a countryman !-these