Bailly, Vincent de Paul
BAILLY, VINCENT DE PAUL
Publisher, Assumptionist priest; b. Berteaucourt-les-Thennes, Dec. 2, 1832; d. Paris, Dec. 2, 1912. His grandfather had preserved the MSS of St. vincent de paul during the Revolution, and his uncle and future mother had transported the body of the saint to Paris for interment. This heritage and the Christian atmosphere of his large family doubtless determined his vocation. His father, one of the founders of the Conférences St. Vincent de Paul, operated a boarding home for students in Paris and was active in all religious movements. Leading Catholics frequented the Bailly home, notably the Abbé Emmanuel d'alzon, the founder of the Augustinian Congregation of the Assumption (the assumptionists). Bailly entered the Paris École Polytechnique at 20, and after graduation he served for some years as a civil servant in the Post Office Department. In 1860, after a retreat at Nîmes, he decided to enter the Assumptionists. He was ordained at Rome in 1863 and became superior of the congregation's college at Nîmes (1863–67). He was chaplain to the French forces that defended the Holy See in 1867 and again at Metz during the war of 1870.
Bailly was deeply concerned with the welfare of the people. He aided in founding various Catholic associations and organized the first lay pilgrimages to La Salette, Lourdes, and Paray-le-Monial. In 1876 he took over the direction of Le Pèlerin, the journal devoted to promoting the pilgrimages, and transformed it into a lively popular weekly that was at the same time militantly Catholic. By 1879 Le Pèrelin had 80,000 subscribers and ably combatted the nonsectarian but anticlerical press. In 1883 he founded the daily La Croix, also designed as a popular and simple defense of the Church at a time when the successive governments of the Third Republic were either openly interdicting or rendering extremely difficult the existence of religious congregations.
The vigor of Bailly's polemics sometimes took him beyond a point sanctioned by Rome and incurred the hatred of his adversaries, but his sense of prayer and obedience balanced his excesses. In November 1899 the Assumptionists were suppressed by law, and Bailly left France for Rome, where he lived until 1906. He founded houses in Belgium and England and finally returned to
Paris. His achievement lay not only in the foundation of a great daily paper, a popular weekly, and a score of other publications connected with them, but more especially in the vision that led to the establishment of the publishing house, La Bonne Presse, at a time when such coordination of publishing was indispensable for the success of Catholic journalism.
Bibliography: e. lacoste, Le Père Vincent de Paul Bailly (Paris 1913). r. kokel, Le Père Vincent de Paul Bailly (Paris 1943).