Saint Vincent Ferrer







If you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart. Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire.


-Saint Vincent Ferrer










Saint Vincent was a Dominican friar and preacher who was famous for his missionary activities and in his efforts in ending the great Western schism.


Saint Vincent was the fourth child of a a nobleman from Palamos and Cnostanca Migquel and was born on January 23rd, 1350 in the Kingdom of Valencia (modern day Spain). Several legends attest to the noble rank of his father being from the house of Stewarts in Scotland. His father had a dream in which a Dominican friar appeared to him and told him that his future son would be famous throughout the world and his mother experienced no pain during his childbirth. As a child he was named after the patron Saint of Valencia - Saint Vincent martyr. As a child he fasted on every Wednesday and Friday and helped distribute alms to the poor even in his young age.


Whatever you do, think not of yourself, but of God - Saint Vincent Ferrer

At the age of 18, Saint Vincent entered the Order of Preachers (the Dominican Order). He had studied his classical studies from eight to fourteen and theology from fourteen to eighteen. As a novitiate of the Order, Saint Vincent began to experience great doubt in his choice and was heavily tempted to leave the order and to pursue a secular career, a temptation he eventually overcame with prayer, fasting and positive reinforcement from his mother and father. For three full years after his novitiate year, he read only Holy Scripture so much that he committed nearly all of it fully to memory.





Soon afterwards he published a treatise on Dialectic Suppositions and was formally ordained a Priest at Barcelona in 1379. At Barcelona he was given the lecturer's post to deliver lectures on philosophy and became a Master of Sacred Theology. At the University of Lleida he earned his doctorate in theology. Though now a well respected and learned Dominican, Saint Vincent would soon find himself in the middle of what is now known as the Great Western Schism. During this time (1378-1417), the Roman Catholic Church was split between two main claimants to the papacy- Antipope Clement VII in France and Pope Urban VI in Rome. Saint Vincent was convinced that Pope Urban's election was invalid and supported Clement.



Following the death of Clement in 1394, Cardinal de Luna was elected as the antipope successor with the name Benedict XIII. Saint Vincent and his brother Boniface both support Benedict XIII but worked tirelessly day and night to help end the schism. Working as the Apostolic penitentiary and Master of the Sacred Palace under Benedict, Saint Vincent worked to convince him to end the Schism and restore the unity of the Catholic Church. Benedict was excommunicated as a schismatic in 1417 when he lost support of the French King and did not resign as intended at the Councils of Pisa and Constance. Saint Vincent wrote that this schism had such a profound and depressing effect on him that it caused him to become seriously physically ill.


For over 21 years Saint Vincent travelled to England, Scotland, Ireland, Aragon, Castile, France, Switzerland and Italy preaching the Gospel and converting untold numbers of unbelievers to the Catholic faith. In Spain, Saint Vincent converted a massive amount of Jews to Christianity (some numbers estimate almost 25,000) . He was instrumental in the conversion of a rabbi named Solomon ha-Levi who would go on to be the Bishop of Cartagena and later the Archbishop of Burgos. When King Martin of Aragon died in 1410 without a legitimate heir, Saint Vincent was chosen as one of the representatives of Valencia to help vote on who the next King should be. This voting process became known as the Compromise of Caspe and Saint Vincent's vote was integral.


Late in his life he preached to Saint Colette of Corbie and her nuns in Brittany. After a homily, Saint Colette told him that he would die in France before he could return to Spain. Several days later, Saint Vincent fell seriously ill while still in Brittany. This illness claimed his life on April 5th, 1419.



Vannes Cathedral


Saint Vincent was buried in Vannes Cathedral following his death. Pope Calixtus III canonized him a Saint on June 3, 1455 and his feast day was set for April 5th. Among many other patronages, Saint Vincent is the patron Saint of Valencia, Catalonia, Spain, Fishermen (in Brittany where he is invoked against storms) and Spanish orphanages.





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