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St Vincent De Paul was a priest of the Catholic Church who dedicated his life to the poor.  He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Community. He was cannonized in 1737. De Paul was renowned for his compassion, humility, and generosity and is known as the “Great Apostle of Charity”. St. Vincent was born in 1581 in the village of  Pouy in Gascony. In 1605, Vincent sailed from Marsielles on his way back from Castres where he had gone to sell some property he had received in an inheritance from a wealthy patron in Toulouse, and was taken captive by Barbary pirates, who brought him to Tunis. De Paul was auctioned off as a slave to the highest bidder, and spent two years in bondage. His first master was a fisherman, but Vincent was unsuitable for this line of work due to sea-sickness and was soon sold. His next master was a spagyrical physician, alchemist and inventor. Vincent became fascinated by his arts and was taught how to prepare and administer his master’s spagyric remedies.At that time, science and medicine were far more advanced in Muslim countries than in Europe, where medicine was little more than speculative medical quackery, the exception being those herbalists and traditional healers whose knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants, fungi and minerals had been passed down through generations. These traditional healers, who lacked any formal education for the most part, were almost completely obscured by the pseudo-science of the “learnéd”.


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