June 20

St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer

A Brilliant Student and Teacher

Vincent Ferrer was born on January 23, 1350 in Valencia, Spain to William Ferrer and Constantia Miguel. He was educated at Valencia and completed his study of philosophy at the age of fourteen. Not much is known about his early life. However, his later years are worth noting.

Vincent entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in 1367 at the age of nineteen. He was sent to the house of studies in Barcelona the following year. Here, he continued his scholastic duties and devoted himself to preaching. He taught philosophy at Lérida, the famous university of Catalonia, in 1370. It was also where he received his doctorate.

Vincent returned to the Dominican Studium arabicum et hebraicum in Barcelona in 1373. In 1377, he was sent to Toulouse to continue his studies. In 1379, he was retained by the legate of the Court of Aragon, Cardinal Pedro de Luna, who was working to win King Peter IV to the obedience of Avignon. Thoroughly convinced of the legitimacy of the Avignon popes’ claims, he was one of their strongest champions. From 1385 to 1390, Vincent taught theology at the Valencia Cathedral. It was during that time that he perfected himself in the Christian life.

His Missionary Zeal

In 1390, Vincent was obliged to accompany Cardinal de Luna to France. However, he soon returned home. De Luna became Pope at Avignon in 1394. He summoned Vincent and made him Master of the sacred palace. Though with much effort and zeal, Vincent made unsuccessful attempts to end the Great Schism. He refused all ecclesiastical honors and dignities, even being a cardinal. He only desired to be appointed apostolic missionary.

Vincent labored much which made him the famous missionary of the 14th century. He evangelized nearly every place of Spain. He also preached in France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Because of his preaching, countless conversions followed. His preaching was assisted by the gift of miracles. Though the Church was then gravely divided by the Great Schism, Vincent was honorably received in the provinces subjected to the two claimants of the papacy.

A Great Preacher

For twenty years, Vincent traversed Western Europe. He was preaching penance for sin and preparation for judgment. He was obliged to preach in squares and open places, such were the numbers that flocked to hear him. Because of his strong message for the people to repent and to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom by following the teachings of Jesus and the Church, some people referred to him as a modern John the Baptist. Vincent’s preaching inspired many Catholics to renew their faith. His words touched the hearts of people who decided to be baptized as a response to his message.

Vincent lived to see the end of the Great Schism and the election of Pope Martin V. Crowned with his tireless labors, Vincent died on April 5, 1419. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III at the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome on June 3, 1455. His feast day is April 5.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Vincent Ferrer

  1. St. Vincent Ferrer is the patron saint of builders. He is renowned for “building” the Church through missionary efforts, prayer, and time spent preaching, teaching, advising, and taking confessions.
  2. St. Vincent Ferrer is mostly depicted with wings. The reason was because a number of people have seen him assume wings and fly off to a suffering person while preaching.
  3. In his portraits or images, St. Vincent Ferrer is sometimes portrayed holding a trumpet. This is because when he preached, those who had listened to him attested, his voice could reach as far as three miles away, just like how a trumpet can be heard from a distance.
  4. When St. Vincent Ferrer was gravely ill, he had a vision of Christ, St. Dominic de Guzman and St. Francis of Assisi. He was miraculously healed after receiving this vision. Afterwards, he started to preach about last judgment and the need for repentance, which merited him the title “angel of the apocalypse”.
  5. When he preached, St. Vincent Ferrer spoke only in his native language which was Spanish. However, people of all languages were able to understand everything he said. His biographers believed that St. Vincent had the ability to speak in tongues.

Prayer to St. Vincent Ferrer

O God, who raised up the Priest Saint Vincent Ferrerto minister by the preaching of the Gospel,grant, we pray,that, when the Judge comes,whom Saint Vincent proclaimed on earth,we may be among those blessedto behold him reigning in heaven.Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever. Amen.