St Vincent Pallotti
St Vincent Pallotti, born in Rome on 21 April 1795, was the apostle of the eternal City at a difficult period of time in history. He has been raised up an apostle to undo the spiritual harm wrought by the Napoleonic wars. He is called a second Philip Neri because of his tireless labours in the confessional and the pulpit and his boundless charity towards the poor, the sick and the unfortunate, to whom he would give away the very shoes and clothes he was wearing.
Having received his Doctorates in Philosophy and Theology, he taught Theology for 10 years. He started his apostolate among students and it soon became clear that Rome possessed a holy Priest. He was made confessor of Propaganda College, the Roman Seminary, and an English College. His influence on all of them was deep. Hardly a waking moment remained unemployed. He went to confession each day before Mass, during which he often had ecstasies, and then began his day’s work, preaching in the churches and the squares, giving retreats, visiting hospitals and prisons, hearing confessions in the late hours of the night.
Vincent’s zeal embraced the whole world and every need, spiritual and material. For this universal object he founded the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines) and the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate. An early realization on his part of the value and necessity of the lay apostolate led him to found guilds for workers, agricultural schools, loan associations, orphanages and homes for girls, thus initiating a social programme that was later formulated and set forth by a friend of his youth, Pope Leo XIII. Pius XI called him “a pioneer and precursor of Catholic Action”.
He died on 22 January 1850 aged only 55 and was beatified 100 years later to the day by Pope Pius XII who cited “this great sacerdotal figure” as an example for Parish Priests and preachers. “May his spirit be renewed in every one of you and infuse into your apostolate that irresistible glow of love which the doubting, uncertain and suffering men of today need much,” said His Holiness.
Vincent Pallotti, whose body lies incorrupt in the church of San Salvatore in Rome, was canonized by Pope John XXIII on 20 I anuary 1963, i.e. during Vatican Council II.