One of the joys of being Catholic is getting to know the saints. I love not only reading about their lives, and getting the head knowledge, but also trying to get to know them, and understand what made them tick. If there are images of them (and there are for most of the saints of the last five hundred years or so) I like to contemplate their faces, and see there the image of Christ recapitulated and expressed again.

Look at St Vincent de Paul! Not a handsome fellow I’m afraid, but can you see the intensity and joy compressed into his marvelous face? Can you sense the placid temperament and sweet nature combined with steely determination and tough resilience? Did you know he was born into a peasant family, was captured by pirates and escaped and became a priest? He is known for his tireless work for the poor, his encouragement of priestly vocations and his single handed renewal of the Church in France after the upheaval of the Protestant revolution and the religious wars of the sixteenth century.

He died on this day in 1660 at 80 years of age.