Blessed A. Frederic Ozanam

Antony Frederic Ozanam, with a group of seven friends, founded the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, chosen as his patron under the influence of Sister  Rosalie Rendu, Daughter of  Charity, who would accompany them in their first steps in the visit to the poor in their houses, that they had chosen as a goal of the Conference of Charity. The society has at the moment around 190,000 members in 90 countries and belongs to the Vincentian Family.

1813, 23 April Born in Milan, after his family moves to Lyon
1832 Studies in Paris
1833, May Foundation of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society
1836 Doctor in Law
1838 Doctor in letters with thesis about Dante
1841, June Marriage with Mary Josephine Amelia Soulacroix
1844, 21 November Professor of Literature at La Sorbonne
1853, 8 September dies on the way to Marseille
1997, 22 August Beatification by Pope John Paul II in Paris
9 September Feast day

Antony Frederic Ozanam was born in Milanin April 23rd, 1813, son of John-Antony Francisco Ozanam and Maria Nantas. Frederic says he thanks the Lord for the gift of his deeply Christian parents.

This Christian lay person of the XIX century, in a secularized world, was an authentic prophet of his time in the Church to who, as he said, “love with great love and submission“. Frederic did his secondary studies in Lyon and his university career in Paris. During his adolescence he had big spiritual problems, but he trusted his spiritual direction to abbot Noirot, great philosopher, who helped him to overcome them, and them he said “I have promised to God to dedicate my life to the service of the truth that fills me with peace.”

The 5th of November 1831 an intellectual 18 year-old, Frederic Ozanam, arrives in Paris from Lyon to follow his studies at La Sorbonne. He was discouraged, or rather horrified, of what He saw in the capital. He made friends with André-Maria Ampere, also from Lyon, who opened his home to him. There, he found support for his faith in a violent  and anti-Catholic Paris and enter in contact with Emmanuel Bailly, who in his youth had planned to be a Vincentian, and he knew well Saint Vincent de Paul.

Ozanam and his friends intended to have, besides the history conferences, the charity conferences, to unite the action to the word and to affirm with works the vitality of their faith.  Bailly didn’t want to abandon these Catholic students to the anti-Catholicism of the university. In 1830 when the crisis finish he form discussion groups, well-known as conferences, among them the Conference of Literature and History, after becoming  conference of charity and finally Conference of Saint Vincent de Paul.

In 1833 Ozanam, with a group of seven friends, founded the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul; choose by them as a patron. The oldest was Emmanuel Bailly, 39 years old; Frederic was only 20 years old, only one of the groups was younger than him. At the beginnings they didn’t have experience of service, of relation with those that lived in the misery. They needed a guide. This arrives for Bailly, president of the nascent conference, who was a kind of spiritual councillor or a symbol of wisdom. When they decide to go to the poor Emmanuel Bailly sends them to a woman, a 40 years old Daughter of Charity, Sister Rosalie Rendu, “Apostle of the district of Mouffetard”, great apostle and servant of the disinherited of the Parisian neighbourhood of Saint-Médard, who would accompany them in their first steps in the visit to the poor in their houses, that they had chosen as an end of the Conference of Charity.

The style of the conferences is home visiting,  direct relationship with those who suffer. Today the conferences have extended all over the world.

Frederic as son, husband, father and friend, gifted with a rare sensibility, impressed deeply all those who met him.

He was a witness of Charity in his personal, family, professional and civic life. He expressed a burning desire “it is necessary to embrace the whole world in a net of charity.” He was faithful defender of the poor.

He was a Professor of Commercial Law, at the Universityof Lyon, and later professor of Foreign Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris.

For health reasons, he had to abandon teaching that he exercised as an apostolate; he dedicated his last forces to the scientific investigation and to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

After a long illness, at the age of 40, he died in Marseille, the 8th of September 1853, in a total attitude of devotion to God.

For more information: www.ozanet.org