In honor of St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day Sept. 27, a precious artifact in the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth archives made a rare appearance.
A handwritten letter, dating to 1648, by St. Vincent de Paul was displayed in the motherhouse dining room after dinner Monday. The letter, written in de Paul’s native French, translates to:
“The Reverend Father Boulart is assured by his servant Vincent that he (Vincent) has given his (formal) agreement about the Abbey of Nieuil in favor of Reverend Father Beurrier. This (agreement) has been sent to Mr. de la Rose, secretary to Monseigneur the Cardinal, to have it sent on to him.”
It is signed “Vincens Depaul, unworthy priest of the mission.”
Kathy Hertel-Baker, director of the SCN Archival Center, said the letter has been at Nazareth at least since 1990. Included with it was information about an auction in Boston, Mass., and a certificate of authenticity. Hertel-Baker assumes someone donated it, but she isn’t sure.
The letter is stored in a climate-controlled vault in an acid-free envelope in an acid-free folder, Hertel-Baker said.
De Paul was born about 1580 in France. He is the patron saint of charitable societies. In 1633 he founded the Daughters of Charity, according to Hertel-Baker, and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth mission statement mentions him specifically. The first four SCNs took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverance in the rule of St. Vincent de Paul, Hertel-Baker said.
Although the letter is no longer on display, it can be viewed on request. The Archival Center is open 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Copies of the letter are also available, free of charge. Call 348-1548 for more information.