Pallotine Sisters
Cultural Background
St. Vincent Pallotti spent his whole life in Rome during one of the most turbulent phases of its history. The early nineteenth century shook from the rumblings of the French Revolution and the struggle of the masses for national unity and self-determination. In Rome and the Papal States, it took on a particularly anti-clerical bent, fueled as it was by the activities of the secret societies and the reluctance of the papal administration to implement change.
   
Early Years
Vincent was born in Rome on April 21st, 1795, the third of ten children, five of whom died in infancy. His parents were Maria Maddalena di Rossi and Pietro Paolo Pallotti, a small goods grocer, owner of three shops in Rome. Vincent was profoundly influenced by their personal, practical faith, their deep devotion, and generous attentiveness to the poor. He was aware of himself quite early -- his urge for activity and achievement, his tendency to pride and anger.
   
While still young, Vincent became aware of his vocation to the priesthood. At twelve years of age he selected Fr. Bernardino Fazzini as his confessor and spiritual director. Fazzini, a diocesan priest, recognized in Vincent a person of extraordinary spiritual gifts. He played a formative role, inculcating in his young charge a profound awareness of God, the discipline of self (according to the ascetical practices of the time) and a readiness for apostolic service. With clear sightedness and a resolute will, Vincent brought an energy to his life project, in spite of frail health and recurrent bouts of illness.
   
Priestly Life
He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-three, already experienced from years of involvement with catechists, youth associations, ministry to peasant farmers and the poor. Seeing how he poured himself out in a staggering number of apostolic ventures, the ordinary people called him the "apostle of Rome." His intuitive awareness of the spiritual situation and his gift of eliciting help from all classes of people led to the providential founding of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate in 1835. The Union was conceived as a united front, directing the efforts of lay people, religious and clergy, and bringing Christ's message of faith and love to people of need in Rome and elsewhere.
   
His Foundation, the Union of the Catholic Apostolate
The Union called all to the apostolate. Although there had always existed in the Church a lay apostolate as a participation by the laity in the hierarchical apostolate, in Vincent's time this idea had almost vanished from consciousness. Hence many considered Vincent's idea of universal apostolate as unorthodox or, at least, arrogant. It was suspected of renewing the Protestant attack against the ordained priesthood. His effort, however, was not a subversive act against authority. In fact, he was closer to the Spirit of Vatican II which proclaimed that the whole Church (in all its members) was missionary. For Vincent the call to apostolate had its fundamental basis not in hierarchical approval, but in one's creation in the likeness of the God of infinite love. His Union of the Catholic Apostolate, however, was always obedient to and at the service of the Church.
   

His Death
Vincent remained in Rome during the 1848-49 Revolution, in spite of attempts on his life. He died in Rome on January 22nd, 1850. One of his students, John Spalding, who was to become Archbishop of Baltimore, wrote of Vincent:

 

He was well known in all of Rome because of his extraordinary holiness. His complete unselfishness was coupled with penance. His love for all never faltered or slackened. No difficulty, no cross, could shake his patience. The touching trait of his character was his all-penetrating love of God and of Jesus Christ. This love was the driving force of all his endeavors; it was the true life and soul of all his actions; it was the key to his serenity, the font of his courage, and that inner peace which spontaneously radiated from his behavior.

Taken from Empowered by Love by Fr. Pat Jackson, SAC

 

A Brief Biography | His Spirituality | His Pastoral Plan | St. Vincent& Vatican II | The Popes & St. Vincent | Prayer

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