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of the Day

 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinJanuary 19, 2007 Issue 

Ridicule didn't keep him from holiness

St. Vincent began schools for tradesmen

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

Saint of the Day graphic

St. Vincent Pallotti

When: April 21, 1795 - Jan. 22, 1850
Where: Rome
What: Priest, founder of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate
Feast: Jan. 22

Should our Christian faith make a difference in how we live? If so, how?

Those are questions Christians routinely grapple with as they consider how what they profess and celebrate on Sunday should affect how they live the rest of the week.

For St. Vincent Pallotti, the answer was simple: "Be holy in the world, in your social relationships, in your work and your leisure, in your teaching duties and your contacts with publicans and sinners. Holiness is simply to do God's will, always and everywhere."

To show people what he meant, Vincent started schools for persons in various occupations and trades, including shoemakers, tailors, joiners and market-gardeners. In these schools, workers gained a general education and a pride in their trade. He also offered evening classes for young workers and an institute to teach improved farming methods.

St. Vincent Pallotti, the son of a Roman grocer, was born in 1795. He was ordained to the priesthood at age 23, despite a teacher who called him "a little saint, but a bit thick-headed."

After earning a doctorate in theology, Vincent taught at the University of Rome, until his friendship with St. Caspar del Bufalo led to parish work.

He became a popular confessor, but when he was assigned to one parish the other priests ridiculed him. Sadly, church officials allowed this abuse to continue unchecked for 10 years.

Through it all, Vincent did not complain. His chief tormentor eventually even argued that Vincent should be canonized because he continually turned the other cheek to his tormentors.

In 1835, Vincent started the Society of the Catholic Apostolate for priests, women religious and lay people, and the schools for those engaged in trades.

Vincent also was known for giving his clothes to the needy, for his work as an exorcist and as a healer.

At times, his zeal had its amusing aspects. Once, a dying man threatened to shoot any priest who tried to visit him. So Vincent dressed as an old woman and went to the man's bedside.

Pope Pius XI credited Vincent for foreseeing the entire Catholic Action movement, a spiritual and apostolic movement for the laity which Pius XI officially organized on March 30, 1930, as a way to promote lay involvement in the church. Card. Ermenegildo Pellegrinetti said of him, "He did all that he could; as for what he couldn't do - well, he did that too."

What difference should our faith make? As St. Vincent said, it should help us be holy in all we do.

(Sources: Butler's Lives of the Saints and Dictionary of Saints)

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