Many biographies of this fascinating saint have appeared over the years. This note lists four of them of particular interest, given in chronological order.
The first is, strictly speaking, an excerpt from the major biography of Michel Ulysse Maynard, translated into English as Virtues and Spiritual Doctrine of Saint Vincent de Paul . First published in 1864, it was translated into English and many other languages. The revised and linguistically updated translation by Carlton A. Prindeville, C.M., appeared in 1961.
The second, by Arthur Loth, studied Vincent de Paul from the perspective of his social teaching. This work first appeared in 1880 in a deluxe edition. Because of its size and weight, it was condemned to remain on coffee tables or book shelves and was thus rarely read. Later editions reduced the weight but not the size, with similar results. Nevertheless, Loth’s insights are worth studying, and the appendices have valuable information on Vincentian iconography and history. The work was translated from French into Spanish in 1887, but not into other languages.
The third, and by far the most important and influential, is by José María Román, C.M., a noted Spanish Vincentian historian. His one-volume biography appeared in 1981 and has been subsequently translated into French, English, Polish and probably other languages. The author, a trained Church historian, applied modern criteria to the study of his subject and brought to light many valuable perspectives.
The fourth is another Spanish-language biography by Jaime Corera, C.M., another Spanish Vincentian. Published in 1989, he sought to present a brief but modern biography of the saint. It exists only in the original language.