Today is the feast of St. Vincent de Paul, a French priest who died in 1660 after founding various congregations. He had a great apostolate devoted to helping the poor. For political reasons, Pier Giorgio was not particularly fond of the French. But he had a singular commitment to the Conference of St. Vincent de Paul. This really was the organization that defined his charitable works throughout his lifetime. The Conference he belonged to met on Fridays. It was an appointment that he always kept. Even when he was near death, he thought of his responsibilities to those whom he was helping through the Conference. The last words he wrote were those scribbled in this photo with his hand paralyzed from the polio that would end his life the following day. They were instructions to another Conference member to deliver medicines and renew a pawn ticket.
Pier Giorgio wrote about the work of the Conferences at the request of a priest in May of 1925. “Our Conferences -- unlike those of other philanthropic organizations who distribute help to the poor who are brought to their headquarters and many times hardly know them -- following the principles of our founder, the confreres, go and knock on the doors of the poor, approach those who suffer and bring them words of comfort as well as material help.” He encouraged everyone to become a member “because the Conferences have 2 highly admirable goals: first a more intense formation of ourselves, and second relief for the poor.”
It is another example, I think, of the ripple effect I mentioned a few days ago. The life of St. Vincent de Paul had a tremendous impact on the life of Pier Giorgio who was born 241 years after St. Vincent’s death. Today’s feast is another good day to reflect on the vast and rich Communion of Saints and to celebrate the holy examples they have handed down to us worthy of imitation. Saint Vincent de Paul, in particular, encourages us to always trust in God for everything. He wrote, “If you will only abandon yourselves to the guidance of Providence, God will take care of you; he will lead you by the hand in the most difficult situations.” May he and Pier Giorgio intercede for us in a special way today. ///cmw