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Saint Vincent and Islam


Vincent de Paul took a great interest in Islamic countries; indeed, the Congregation’s first foreign mission was to Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire. He was especially concerned with missions to North African countries and continued them despite considerable obstacles. While conversions of Muslims were desirable, they were to be made discreetly, and the confreres’ main priorities were to minister spiritually and corporally to Christian slaves. If Muslims were to be converted, he believed that they would be won over by deeds and love rather than by force or arguments. Yves Danjou explains how Vincent respected Muslims, especially considering the era. He was well-informed about them from different sources and recommended some of their practices and actions as examples to the Congregation and the Daughters of Charity. He also understood Muslim thought about Jesus and Mary. Vincent’s pastoral theology is explained. Danjou also discusses the importance of Islam in Vincent de Paul’s time, France’s relationship with Islamic countries, and French knowledge of Islam.