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Saint Vincent Pallotti was born in Rome on April 21, 1795. From his early childhood as an altar server, Saint Vincent lived a life rooted in service to the poor and to the Church. After his ordination to the priesthood, Saint Vincent became well known for his charitable works, mysticism, and collaboration with the laity in his ministry. His transformative work with the laity continued in 1835 when he founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate, association of lay people, consecrated religious and clergy, that supported the Church’s missionary efforts, revived the faith of Catholic, and did works of charity. Before the Second Vatican Council commenced more than 100 years later, the laity was not as actively participating and collaboratively in the life and ministry of the Church. Saint Vincent wanted to inspire people of all walks of life to work constantly for God's kingdom.
Believing that all people are called to holiness and have a role as apostle in Christ's Church, Pallotti sought to revive faith and rekindle charity in every person he met. Despite desiring to be a missionary, Pallotti remained in Rome for the entirety of his priestly ministry due to his poor health. Nevertheless , Pallotti worked tirelessly to bring Catholics back into the Church at a time where secularization from governments was running rampant. Having seen multiple Popes run out of Rome by nationalist movements, Pallotti remained steadfast in his faith in Christ and the Church, calling others to do the same whether it was in the market, in the hospital, or the confessional.
Due to his belief that all the baptized are called to be apostles since they are sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, Pallotti wanted all the faithful to go out and make disciples in their own communities. This inspired Saint Vincent to consecrate his ministry as well as the Union and Society of the Catholic Apostolate to Our Lady, Queen of Apostles. This Marian title reminds us of her role—as well as the role of other unnamed disciples—in the early Church following the feast of Pentecost.
Unprecedented for his time, Saint Vincent was known for approaching the "faithful of every class, rank, and condition" to minister to "those who are most spiritually needy." During the cholera epidemic in 1837, Pallotti ministered to the sick and provided food for the needy. Subsequently, Saint Vincent organized schools for Roman children and orphanages to care for children who lost their parents. These massive undertakings were often accomplished with people whose apostolate was to treat those in need "with care and with a loving and tender concern." After founding the Union, Saint Vincent called the members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate--who included laity, sisters, priests, and brothers--to charity, patience, humility, zeal, and love of God and of Jesus Christ. St. Vincent continued to minister to the people of Rome until he died in 1850. The legacy of his life has transcended the 1800s in Italian history and St. Vincent continues to inspire people worldwide.
Today the Union of Catholic Apostolate in the United States is composed of the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers, the Pallottine Sisters, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, various communities of lay people and sisters, and individual lay members.