The Society of St Vincent de Paul is an international Roman Catholic voluntary organization of lay persons dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing direct practical assistance to anyone in need; addressing social and material needs in all its many forms. Placed under the Patronage of St. Vincent de Paul, it derives its inspiration from his thinking and works. It seeks, in a spirit of justice and charity, involvement of its members to help those who are suffering and in need.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was founded in 1833 to serve impoverished people living in the slums of Paris, France. The primary figure behind the society’s founding was Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, a French lawyer, author, and professor in the Sorbonne. He was 20 years old when the society was founded, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
The Society took Saint Vincent de Paul as its patron under the influence of Sister Rosalie Rendu, D.C. Sister Rosalie (who was herself beatified in November 2003 by Pope John Paul II) was a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and was well known for her work with people in the slums of Paris. She guided Frédéric and his companions in their approach towards those in need.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is part of the Vincentian Family which also includes the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian priests and brothers, also founded by St. Vincent de Paul), Daughters of Charity, Ladies of Charity (organization of lay women who help the poor, founded by St. Vincent de Paul), Sisters of Charity in the Setonian tradition, and several others, including some religious groups who are part of the Anglican Communion, like Company of Mission Priests.