Considered within the context of his time, Vincent de Paul’s philosophy on the correction of minors at Saint-Lazare was humane. Seventeenth-century French attitudes toward poor persons, and minors in particular, are described. The poor were frequently classified as criminals to be locked up or otherwise restricted and made to serve the state’s purposes. Vincent was original because he believed that the behavior of minors could be corrected through education, and that such education would prevent the criminality associated with poverty at the time. His was “a strategy that combined internal discipline with instruction in the faith.” He believed that “innocence could always be recovered.” In this, he was unlike his contemporaries who viewed children as living in an unreasoning state close to that of beasts or the insane. From Vincent’s perspective, internment was less to protect society from minors and more to protect minors from society. The article outlines the different types of minors who were interned at Saint-Lazare and explains what the monastic life imposed on them was supposed to accomplish. Vincent’s work with foundlings is also discussed.
Guyon, Gerard D. and Poole, Stafford C.M.
"Saint Vincent de Paul and the Internment of Minors in Seventeenth-Century France,"
Vincentian Heritage Journal: Vol. 15:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://via.library.depaul.edu/vhj/vol15/iss2/5