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Saint Vincent's Reading List XXXVIII: Vincent de Paul at the Deathbed of Louis XIII

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 2/25/2013 9:16:00 AM

Le Janus François, ou l'Oraison funèbre sur la mort de Louis XIII, roy de France & de Navarre: prononcée en l'église Sainct Roch, le 16 juin année 1643, by Simon Champelou. Paris: Chez Sebastien Huré, 1643. 

Call Number: SpC. 944.032 C45lj1643

The young Vincent de Paul would have been newly-arrived in Paris at the time of the assassination of Henri IV, on 14 May 1610. Thirty-three years later to the day, Vincent de Paul would stand at the death-bed of Henry's heir, Louis XIII. Every aspect of the French king's life, from his birth to his death, was lived out in public as a state occasion. Louis XIII's death at age 38 was no exception.

St. Vincent at the deathbed of Louis XIII

By the time he was summoned to the king's bedside Vincent was a well-known figure at court, especially to the Queen, Anne of Austria. Paris was a relatively small city after all, and the circle of influential noble families even smaller. Vincent's role in Church reform, his work with the noble Ladies of Charity, and his foundation of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity all would have put him in the forefront of popular, noble, and even royal attention.

By late 1642 and early 1643, the king was in obviously failing health and was in residence at his new palace outside the city at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. As his end approached, the focus of attention in his sick-room shifted from his doctors to his confessor and episcopal chaplains who helped the pious king prepare for his death and eternal judgment. In late April, at the Queen's request Vincent came to the palace to console the monarch. The monarch briefly rallied, but in early May Vincent was again summoned to the king's bedside where he remained for three days until the king's death on May 14th.

Vincent's account of this emotional time reads:
It pleased God to dispose of our Good King yesterday… His Majesty wanted me to assist him at the hour of death… As long as I have been on this earth, I have never seen anyone die in a more Christian manner… Never have I seen greater elevation of the soul toward God, greater tranquility…or better judgment in a person in this state…the mere remembrance of it still moves me to tears as I tell you about it now.1

The works of the Congregation of the Mission received a legacy in the king's will.

The present volume is an oraison funèbre, or funeral oration, for the king that was given at the church of Saint-Roch in Paris a month after his death.

 

1Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, Vol. 2. (Brooklyn, NY: New City, 1989), 435-436.

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St. Vincent’s Reading List is a recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by Saint Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and  works published during his lifetime (1581-1660) illustrating his world. All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.

 

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