All AIC groups were invited to take the opportunity offered by our Jubilee Year to organise their own pilgrimages to the main Vincentian places in France. Here is an introduction to three of these places – Châtillon, Dax-Le Berceau and Paris.
We have produced practical guides for each place to help in arranging pilgrimages.
Châtillon is a small town to the east of Lyon. On 20th August 1617, Vincent de Paul, the new parish priest of the town, which was then known as Châtillon-les-Dombes, called on his parishioners to help a very needy family. Seeing the generous response from so many women, Fr Vincent saw that it was worth organising this abundant kindness so it could be more effective and long-lasting. This is how the first group of “Charities” was founded, now called AIC around the world and “Equipes Saint Vincent” in France. This event may be relived in Châtillon.
Dax is a city in the south of France; here you can visit the house where Saint Vincent was born, called Ranquines. It is a small property, consisting of a house, a yard and a field where animals were kept. The current building is not the original, but a reconstruction using original materials. It helps to understand how rural families lived day-to-day during the 16th century. We find reminders of Saint Vincent here. This house is now located in a retirement home, run by the Daughters of Charity and supported by Priests of the Congregation of the Mission.
Except for his time in Folleville and Châtillon, after 1617, Saint Vincent lived in Paris for over 50 years until his death. So you can follow in his footsteps in many places, mainly through the 5th, 6th and 10th districts of Paris and further out in Clichy. We can also follow in the missionary footsteps of Saint Louise, who met Saint Vincent in 1625 and whom he named as the First Visitor of the “Charities” in 1629. Several groups of Ladies of Charity began during the Saint Vincent’s lifetime, such as the Hôtel Dieu Hospital group to help the sick poor, and several parish groups such as that of Saint Sulpice.