ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI—1795-1850
Born April 21, 1795 Rome, Papal States
Died January 22, 1850 Rome, Papal States
Beatified January 22, 1950 by Pope Pius XII
Canonized January 20, 1963, Rome by Pope John XXIII
Feast day January 22
A contemporary of Cardinal Newman's and the Cure of Ars', St. Vincent Pallotti was a very modern saint who organized so many remarkable pastoral programs that he is considered the forerunner of Catholic Action. He was a man of great ideas and great vision and was able to inspire others to tackle great things. He is the founder of the Pallottine Fathers and the Pallottine Missionary Sisters; however, this was but the tip of the iceberg of his accomplishments. He left behind schools, guilds, and institutes that carried the Catholic mission into the very heart of contemporary society.
Saint Vincent Pallotti (April 21, 1795 – January 22, 1850) was an Italian ecclesiastic, born in Rome, and a saint. He was the founder of the Pious Society of Missions (the Pallotines), He is buried in the church of San Salvatore in Onda. He was descended from the noble families of the Pallotti of Norcia and the De Rossi of Rome. His early studies were made at the Pious Schools of San Pantaleone, and from there he passed to the Roman College. At the age of sixteen, he resolved to become a priest, and was ordained on May 16, 1820
From Rome, Vincenzo Pallotti worked selflessly looking after the poor in the urban areas of the city for most of his life. He had an intense devotion to the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, and to the Virgin Mary. His contemporaries, including the pope, considered him a saint during his life. He longed to send missionaries to other parts of the world and founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the Society of the Catholic Apostolate that became the Pious Society of Missions. He strongly believed, in the spirit of St. Paul, that God wanted to save all people, and it was his intention to start a Catholic Apostolic Society. Although his visionary desire to unite the factions in the Church and to encourage lay apostolic activity did not bear fruit within his lifetime, he did his utmost to encourage this vision in others. Pallotti was in fact deemed a patron of Vatican II for his efforts toward building unity in the Church through such practices as inviting the people of his community to worship in the Roman parishes of Eastern Catholic Churches.
It does appear that his 'Society of the Catholic Apostolate' was suppressed by Pope Gregory. It offended some of the sensibilities of Roman society. Dr. Gaynor seems to suggest that the Jansenists were at work in this. The decree of dissolution fell into disuse (went into limbo), when the pope was enlightened as to the good work done by the Society. However, as soon as Vincent died in 1850 there was more trouble and presumably the original decree of dissolution was unearthed. When Vincent's last defender Cardinal Lambruscini died in 1854, the name of the Society was abruptly changed to "The Pious Society of Missions". This lasted until 1947 when "by a gracious act of the Holy See" the original name of the society was restored.
When Pallotti's body was exhumed in 1906 and 1950, examiners found his body to be completely incorrupt (see Dr. Gaynor's book), a sign of holiness in the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. His body is enshrined in the church of San Salvatore in Onda, in Rome, where it can be seen, still intact. He was canonized in the year 1963 by Pope John XXIII.
His followers are the Pallottines, still operating internationally. They follow his motto, "The love of Christ impels us" (Caritas Christi Urget Nos). Members of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate work as everyday missionaries to "renew faith and rekindle love." They work to fulfill the mission of their founder in the modern world. The Pallottines have major houses in Britain, Germany, New York, Poland, India, Ireland and several other locations.
During the Christmas Season, a nativity scene that Saint Vincent himself made is put on display at the Vatican, in the basilica's square, before the Christmas tree. Vincent promoted the celebration of the Octave of the Epiphany as an act of unity with his Orthodox brethren who celebrate Christmas on Jan 6th.