St Vincent Pallotti: From Dimwit to Light of the World

Today in the Roman Martyrology, we commemorate St Vincent Pallotti, a Saint much less well-known than the likes of Francis of Assisi or Maria Goretti, but nevertheless has much to offer us for reflection.

In his records the life of Vincent Pallotti, the great English priest and hagiographer Alban Butler makes it a point to first note that the Saint “was not the best student in his early life”. Butler impressed that St Vincent was so hard to teach that a teacher of his once commented that young Vincent was “a little saint, but a bit thick-headed”.

As he grew up, however, Vincent’s studies improved, and he was ordained to the priesthood in 1817 at the age of 23. Vincent then went on and earned a doctorate in theology and philosophy, and became a college professor. Eventually, he gave up the profession in order to dedicate himself more fully to full-time pastoral work. Vincent provided education for labourers and craftsmen in an attempt to give them pride in the quality of their work. He gave these lowly people the dignity that every person deserves.

A funny incident that occured saw Vincent go as far a dressing up as a woman to comfort a sick man who threatened to shoot the next priest that entered his room.

As ecucators – parents but especially teachers – we are bound to experience children with different levels of capability in their studies. We may be tempted to give up on those who seem to struggle with keeping afloat with the rest, but the life of St Vincent Pallotti gives us a much-needed reminder to not throw in the towel with such students. St Vincent turned out to be much more capable and able to learn as he grew. Most importantly, having struggled with his studies and eventually gaining such high qualifications, it’s clear that he always had a heart to learn. Later in his life, he would turn the table around and provide education to those who were less intelligent in the eyes of the world.

Who are you teaching today that is struggling to keep up? What’s your attitude towards him or her?

We will do well to keep in mind that however much they struggle today, the impact you leave on them is likely to have a long-term effect. Will you give up on them, or give them the encouragement they need in their difficult moments?