He was born near Dax (France). When still a young priest he fell into the hands of Turkish pirates who carried him to Africa. Having returned to France, he became successively a parish priest and grand almoner of the galley-slaves. St. Francis of Sales entrusted to him later the spiritual direction of the nuns of the Visitation.
Preaching especially to country people he bound the members of the Congregation he had founded, under the title of Priests of the Mission or Lazarists, to undertake this apostolic work by a special vow. Teaching them to leave everything to follow Christ (Communion), he sent them to work in the vineyard of God (Gospel) and to establish everywhere seminaries in order to give good priests to the people.
In order to help poor people, foundlings, young girls whose virtue was exposed to danger, and others insane, invalided or sick, he founded, in conjunction with St. Louise de Marillac, the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity, which is now the most numerous and the most diffused throughout the world.
After a life which recalls the apostolate of St. Paul (Epistle), and which caused Leo XIII to proclaim him the special patron of all charitable associations, St. Vincent died in 1660 in Paris, at St. Lazarus's which was the mother-house of his congregation.
Let us beseech God that, following the example of St. Vincent, whose pious merits we venerate on this day (Collect), our hearts like his may be filled with divine charity.
Justus ut palma florebit: sicut cedrus Libani multiplicabitur: plantatus in domo Domini: in atriis domus Dei nostri. * Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime.
The just shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus: planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
(Psalm 91:13-14,2 from the Introit of Mass)
O God who, for the preaching of the Gospel to the poor and for promoting the honour of the priesthood, didst strengthen blessed Vincent with the zeal of an apostle: grant, we humbly pray Thee, that we who venerate his holy life, may profit by the examples of virtue he has left us.
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15434c.htm