jeudi 5 avril 2012

Saint VINCENT FERRIER, prêtre dominicain, missionnaire et confesseur



Saint Vincent Ferrier, prêtre

En vrai fils de Saint Dominique, Vincent Ferrier fut avant tout un prêcheur. De Valence (Espagne) où il naquit (1350) à Vannes où il mourut (1419), il chemina sans cesse à travers la France, l'Italie, la Suisse, exhortant les foules à la conversion, dans l'attente du retour du Christ que semblaient annoncer les calamités de son temps, la guerre et le schisme.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/04/05/5895/-/saint-vincent-ferrier-pretre

SAINT VINCENT FERRIER

Missionnaire

(1357-1418)

Vincent naquit à Valence, en Espagne. Sa mère, avant sa naissance, eut révélation de son avenir. Inquiète, elle consulta un saint personnage et en reçut l'assurance que cet enfant prédestiné serait un grand saint, dont l'éloquente parole ferait fuir les loups et ramènerait au bercail les brebis égarées.

Tout petit enfant, il réunissait ses camarades, leur parlait du bon Dieu et de la Sainte Vierge avec tant d'onction et d'amour, qu'ils en étaient touchés.

Après avoir édifié quelques années le couvent des Dominicains de Valence, il fit ses premiers essais dans la prédication, et l'on accourut bientôt de loin pour l'entendre. Il puisait son éloquence dans les plaies sacrées du Sauveur et dans les lumières de l'oraison. Un jour qu'il devait prêcher devant un grand seigneur, il se prépara, contre son ordinaire, plus par l'étude que par la prière; son sermon fut remarquable. Mais le lendemain, prêchant devant le même seigneur, après une longue préparation aux pieds du crucifix, il parla avec beaucoup plus de chaleur et d'onction. Le prince lui en demanda la raison: "Monseigneur, dit le Saint, c'est Vincent qui a prêché hier, et c'est Jésus-Christ qui a prêché aujourd'hui."

Vincent avait quarante ans quand il entra pleinement dans sa vocation de missionnaire, après avoir été guéri d'une grave maladie par Notre-Seigneur. Un bâton d'une main, un crucifix de l'autre, il parcourut à pied presque toutes les provinces de l'Espagne, de la France et de l'Italie, instruisant, édifiant, convertissant les foules; il alla jusqu'en Angleterre, en Écosse et en Irlande, répandre la semence de la parole divine.

Les églises ne suffisant pas à contenir la foule de ses auditeurs, il prêchait ordinairement sur les places publiques et en pleine campagne. On compte que ce prédicateur tout divin convertit vingt-cinq mille juifs et autant de musulmans, et retira du vice plus de cent mille pécheurs. Dieu renouvela pour lui le miracle des premiers jours de l'Église: Vincent ne prêchait qu'en latin et en espagnol, et tous ses auditeurs, quels qu'ils fussent le comprenaient dans leur langue.

Son triomphe était la prédication des fins dernières; il fut l'apôtre du jugement dernier, et les foules frémissaient de terreur dès qu'il répétait les paroles du prophète:"Levez-vous, morts, et venez au jugement."
Quand Vincent prêchait en quelque lieu, les marchands de disciplines, de cilices et autres instruments de mortification accouraient et ne pouvaient suffire à satisfaire les acheteurs. Tous les jours, après le sermon, son compagnon sonnait les miracles, et on apportait les malades en foule. Vincent Ferrier mourut à Vannes, en 1418.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_vincent_ferrier.html

Saint Vincent Ferrier

La vie spirituelle

Pour la gloire de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ je vous indiquerai les remèdes contre quelques tentations spirituelles que Dieu permet très communes en ce temps pour la purification et l'épreuve des élus. Elles n'attaquent ouvertement aucun des principaux articles de la foi, mais l'homme clairvoyant comprend vite quelles vont tout de même à détruire ces fondements de notre religion et qu'elles préparent à l'Antéchrist sa chaire et son trône.

Je ne les exposerai pas en détail pour n'être à personne une occasion de scandale ou de chute, mais je vous dirai de quelle prudence vous devez user pour en triompher.

C'est tentations surgissent de deux côtés : d'abord des suggestions et illusions du diable qui trompe l'homme dans ses relations avec Dieu et dans tout ce qui se rapporte à Dieu ; ensuite de la doctrine corrompue et des mœurs de ceux qui sont déjà tombés dans ces tentations. Je vous indiquerai donc quelle doit être votre conduite à l'égard des hommes, de leur doctrine et de leur manière de vivre.

I. - Tentations qui viennent des suggestions diaboliques

Voici donc les remèdes contre les tentations spirituelles que le diable soulève dans quelques âmes.

Ne pas désirer les grâces extraordinaires.

Premier remède. Ceux qui veulent vivre dans la volonté de Dieu ne doivent pas désirer obtenir par l'oraison, contemplation ou autres œuvres de perfection, des visions, des révélations ou des sentiments surnaturels dépassant l'état ordinaire de ceux qui ont pour dieu une crainte et un amour très sincères. Car un pareil désir ne peut venir que d'un fonds d'orgueil et de présomption, d'une curiosité vaine à l'égard de Dieu et d'une foi trop fragile. La grâce de Dieu abandonne l'âme prise de ce désir et la laisse tomber dans ces illusions et ces tentations du diable qui la séduit en des visions et des révélations trompeuses. C'est la tentation la plus commune de notre temps.

Consolations spirituelles et humilité

Deuxième remède. Quand vous priez ou que vous contemplez, ne supportez jamais dans votre âme aucune consolation, même la moindre, si vous voyez qu'elle se fonde sur la présomption et l'estime de vous-même, si elle vous porte à désirer honneur et réputation et à vous croire digne de louange et de gloire en ce monde ou des joies du paradis.

L'âme qui prend plaisir à pareille consolation tombe dans plusieurs erreurs funestre. Par un juste jugement Dieu permet au démon d'accroître ces consolations, de les renouveler et de faire naître dans cette âme des sentiments tout à fait faux et dangereux qu'elle prend pour des communications divines.

Visions, foi et pureté

Troisième remède. Tout sentiment, même très élevé, toute vision même sublime, du moment qu'ils vous disposent contre un article de foi, contre les bonnes mœurs, surtout contre l'humilité et la pureté, ayez-les en horreur : certainement ils sont l'œuvre du diable.

Même si votre vision ne vous inspire rien de semblable et vous apporte la certitude qu'elle est de Dieu et vous pousse à faire la volonté divine, cependant, ne vous appuyez pas sur elle.

Conseils des visionnaires

Quatrième remède. Quelle que soit la piété, la sainteté de vie, l'élévation d'intelligence et autres qualités d'une personne, ne suivez jamais ses conseils ou ses exemples, si vous avez des raisons de croire que ses conseils ne sont pas selon Dieu ou la prudence chrétienne et qu'ils ne vous engageraient pas dans la voie tracée par Jésus-Christ et les saints et éclairée par les Saintes Ecritures.

Ne pas fréquenter les visionnaires

Cinquième remède. Fuyez la société et la familiarité de ceux qui sèment et répandent ces tentations comme de ceux qui les défendent et les louent. N'écoutez ni leurs récits ni leurs explications. Ne cherchez pas à voir ce qu'ils font. Car le démon ne manquerait pas de vous faire voir en leurs paroles et leurs gestes des signes de perfection auxquels peut-être vous ajouteriez foi pour tomber et vous perdre avec eux.

II. Tentations qui viennent de fausses doctrines et mauvais exemples

Je vais vous indiquer aussi les remèdes à employer contre la doctrine et les exemples de quelques personnes qui propagent ces tentations.

Prudence et discrétion dans l'examen.

Premier remède. Ne faites pas grand cas de leurs visions, de leurs sentiments extraordinaires ni de leurs extases. Bien plus, si elles vous disent quelque chose contre la foi, la Sainte Ecriture ou les bonnes mœuvrs, ayez-en horreur : toutes ces visions et extases sont de pures folies, des fureurs diaboliques.

Mais si elles sont conformes à la foi, à la Sainte Ecriture, aux exemples des saints et aux bonnes mœurs, ne les méprisez pas : vous vous exposeriez à mépriser ce qui vient de Dieu. Ne vous y fiez pas non plus sans réserve, car souvent, surtout dans les tentations spirituelles, les faux se cache sous l'apparence du vrai, le mal sous l'apparence du bien : le diable peut ainsi répandre son venin mortel dans un plus grand nombre d'âmes sans défiance.

Réflexion et conseil avant d'agir

Deuxième remède. Si quelque révélation ou mouvement extraordinaire vous pousse à accomplir une œuvre, surtout une œuvre importante sortant de vos habitudes, et dont vous vous demandez si elle plaira à Dieu, attendez avant d'agir jusqu'à ce que vous ayez examiné toutes les circonstances, en particulier le but et que vous ayez la certitude d'être agréable à Dieu.

Toutefois n'en jugez pas par vous-même, amis autant que possible en suivant les règles tirées de la Sainte Ecriture et des exemples des saints que nous pouvons imiter. Je dis : exemples que nous pouvons imiter, car saint Grégoire nous enseigne que plusieurs saints ont fait des choses qui ne sont pas imitables, quoique bonnes en elles-mêmes. Il suffit d'avoir pour elles respect et admiration.

Et si vous n'arrivez pas à connaître la volonté de Dieu, demandez à des personnes de vie et de doctrine sûres un conseil sincère.

Se réjouir de suivre la voie ordinaire

Troisième remède. Si vous êtes exempt de ces tentations au point de ne les avoir pas éprouvées, ou si les ayant éprouvées vous en avez triomphé, élevez votre cœur et votre esprit vers Dieu pour reconnaître humblement ce grand bienfait. Remerciez souvent ou plutôt ne cessez de remercier de cette grâce. Prenez bien garde de ne pas attribuer à vos forces, à votre sagesse, à vos mérites, à votre conduite ou au hasard ce que vous avez gratuitement de la bonté de Dieu. Les saints enseignent que c'est surtout pour cela que Dieu nous retire sa grâce, et nous laisse en proie aux tentations et aux illusions du diable.

Ne rien faire dans le doute

Quatrième remède. Lorsque vous éprouvez quelque tentation spirituelle qui vous jette dans le doute, n'entreprenez de votre propre initiative rien de grave que vous n'ayez déjà coutume de faire. Réprimez l'impulsion de votre cœur et de votre volonté : attendez humblement dans la crainte et le respect de Dieu qu'Il daigne vous éclairer. Tenez pour certain que si dans le doute vous entrepreniez de vous-même une chose grave et inaccoutumée, vous n'aboutiriez à rien de bon. Je ne veux parler que des choses graves et sortant de l'ordinaire sur lesquelles vous avez un doute.

Persévérez dans les pratiques communes

Cinquième remède. Pour toutes ces choses extraordinaires ne laissez jamais un bien que vous avez entrepris avant qu'elles se produisent. Surtout gardez-vous d'abandonner la prière, la confession, la communion, les jeûnes et autres œuvres de piété et d'humilité, quand même vous n'y trouveriez aucune consolation.

Abandon à la divine volonté

Sixièmes remède. Dans ces occasions, élevez votre cœur et votre esprit vers Dieu en Le priant humblement de faire ce qui sera le plus utile à sa gloire et au salut de votre âme. Soumettez votre volonté à sa divine volonté. Si sa volonté est de vous laisser dans ces tentations, que la vôtre soit de ne jamais L'offenser.

Saint Vincent Ferrier

I - LA VIE DE VINCENT FERRIER

Vincent Ferrier, ou Ferrer en catalan, est né à Valence en Espagne en janvier 1350. Il entre à 17 ans dans l'Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, où il poursuit ses études jusqu'en 1378, date à laquelle il reçoit la prêtrise et commence la phase active de son existence : professorat, prédication, politique. De 1395 à 1398, il est à Avignon le conseiller et le confesseur du pape Benoît XIII. C'est là qu'il tombe malade et que le Christ lui apparaît en songe, escorté de saint Dominique et de saint François. Il reçoit l'ordre d'aller prêcher par le monde. Il se relève guéri.

Pour la fête de sainte Cécile 1399, il est investi par le pape de pouvoirs extraordinaires et de la charge de « plénipotentiaire du Seigneur ». Il approche alors de la cinquantaine et part vers son destin. Vingt ans durant, il ne connaît ni trêve ni repos. Il parcourt à pied d'abord, puis, lorsque la fatigue de l'âge l'aura épuisé, monté sur une bourrique, l'Espagne, l'Italie et la France. Sa renommée, son éloquence, sa vertu, son pouvoir de thaumaturge, ébranlent l'Europe. Il met fin au grand schisme d'Occident, prépare l'unité espagnole, pacifie la chrétienté. Il est l'Ange de paix de l'Europe et l'Ange du Jugement comme il se désigne lui-même, jusqu'au jour où, épuisé par son labeur quotidien auprès des foules qu'il entraîne, des infidèles qu'il convertit, des rois et des princes qu'il conseille et concilie, il meurt à Vannes en Bretagne, le 5 avril 1419, vénéré comme un saint.

Il est canonisé en 1455 par le pape Callixte III. Il est le grand saint national des Catalans et le second patron du diocèse de Vannes. Apôtre du Grand Retour pendant sa vie, il continue de l'être après sa mort. On l'invoque afin de pouvoir par son intercession vivre de telle façon qu'on soit digne de paraître avec confiance au redoutable Jugement.


II - LES ŒUVRES DE VINCENT FERRIER

Formé aux meilleures écoles dominicaines de son temps – Lérida, Barcelone, Toulouse – Vincent Ferrier hérita de la vocation et de l'esprit de son Ordre. Créé et conçu par saint Dominique comme une milice de prêtres entièrement au service du Saint-Siège et de la vérité catholique, il imposait à ses moines une étude théologique approfondie. Celle-ci faisait confiance aux deux éléments qui s'intègrent admirablement dans la sagesse chrétienne : la Raison et la Foi. Penseur admirable, Vincent Ferrier s'enthousiasma pour cette sagesse. Tout au long de son œuvre de chrétienté, il servit loyalement les droits de l'intelligence et de l'orthodoxie religieuse. Il est intellectuel et on le retrouve tel dans sa pensée philosophique, sa sagesse théologique, sa doctrine spirituelle, son apostolat.

SA PENSÉE PHILOSOPHIQUE.

Il écrit deux ouvrages célèbres Traité des suppositions dialectiques et Questions solennelles sur l’unité de l’universel, où il oppose le réalisme modéré du Docteur Angélique au conceptualisme rigide d'Occam. Avec Aristote et saint Thomas il admet la valeur de l'intelligence et avec elle les critères de la connaissance. La pensée n'est pas une duperie, elle sert à quelque chose, elle est même nécessaire pour raisonner sa foi et étayer les dogmes sur de solides bases rationnelles.

SA PENSÉE THÉOLOGIQUE.

Sa lutte commencée contre Occam à propos de la philosophie, se prolonge dans la théologie. En 1378 le schisme d'Occident se produit. Urbain VI se dit successeur de saint Pierre à Rome, Clément VII à Avignon. Chaque nation prend parti pour l'un ou l'autre. Dans les deux camps, il y a des hommes éminents, des saints. Une grande dominicaine, sainte Catherine de Sienne, tient pour Rome ; un grand dominicain, notre Vincent Ferrier, tient pour Avignon. Qui a raison, qui a tort ?

C'est alors que maître Vincent écrit son Traité du Schisme, dont la première partie est un véritable exposé didactique en faveur de la papauté. Les idées maîtresses en sont : le caractère monarchique de l'Église : il ne peut y avoir deux papes parce qu'il n'y a qu'une seule Église fondée par le Christ. C'est un devoir de rechercher le pape légitime et de lui obéir sans réticence, parce qu'il n'y a qu'une seule foi. Enfin, le Souverain Pontife est au-dessus des conciles. En affirmant si nettement cette primauté du pape, maître Vincent apparaît comme un lointain précurseur de l'infaillibilité pontificale.

SA DOCTRINE SPIRITUELLE.

Il n'est aucunement besoin de parcourir toute l'œuvre de Vincent pour composer sa doctrine spirituelle. Nous la trouvons toute faite dans son Traité de la vie spirituelle, qu'il nous suffira de traduire et de commenter. Écrit en latin avant l'Imitation, mais contenant la même doctrine, ce livre fit les délices des religieux, surtout dans l'Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs où il s'intitula : Speculum fratrum praedicatorum. L'édition de 1886, parue à Malines, a servi de base à notre travail. Plusieurs traductions ont paru en diverses langues. Notons seulement les traductions françaises de la Vén. Mère Julienne Morell avec de longs commentaires (Paris, 1619) maintes fois reproduites entre autres par M. J. Rousset (Paris, 1899) ; Sœur Lucie de Maisons (Paris, 1704) ; le P. Bernadot (Saint-Maximin, 1918) dont toutes les notes ont été reprises dans la bonne traduction espagnole de A. Sinues Ruiz (Valencia, 1950).

On ne sait à quel moment de sa vie Vincent l'a écrit. Mais la maturité et la perfection de jugement dont il fait preuve présupposent une expérience religieuse déjà longue. L'auteur est en pleine vigueur intellectuelle. Ce qui frappe dès l'abord, ce ne sont pas les divers éléments de la vie spirituelle énumérés, c'est le tout vivant et vécu qu'ils composent. Homme d'action, presque continuellement hors du couvent, il est foncièrement religieux, attaché aux disciplines de son état et à la culture intérieure quelles doivent réaliser. Il divise son traité en trois parties. La première traite des idées-bases qui sont : la pauvreté volontaire, l'amour du silence, la pureté de cœur et ses effets, l'union divine ou la paix en Dieu.

La seconde considère cette même vie dans sa pratique et sous l'angle social : c'est le directeur de conscience, l'obéissance aux supérieurs, la mortification dans le boire et le manger, la vie studieuse et la vie liturgique, l'exercice du saint ministère et les tentations. Finalement les exigences de cette vie consistent dans l'aspiration à la perfection. Enfin le tout se clôt par quelques saisissants aperçus sur les sept formes du culte de Dieu, du mépris de soi, de l'amour du prochain, et une grande vision d'avenir pour l'Église.

Telle est en bref la lettre de ce traité, très court mais substantiel et éminemment pratique. Ce n'est pas un simple vademecum ascétique, mais une véritable théologie de l'apostolat, œuvre de grande puissance intellectuelle, qui évoque l'éminente figure de son guide et prototype, saint Thomas d'Aquin. On peut y relever trois notes caractéristiques de sa spiritualité.

Saint Vincent Ferrier est un écrivain ascétique de tendance mystique : il oriente les pratiques ascétiques au parfait dépouillement de l'âme pour la disposer à l'action de la grâce et de l'union avec Dieu dans l'oraison.

Sa piété est Christocentrique selon la grande, simple et droite tradition dominicaine. Elle part du principe : Nous pour Dieu par le Christ.

Elle est intellectualiste et sociale, Il n'y est pas question de dichotomie contemplation-action, mais elle concilie dans un idéal unique la vie de sainteté intérieure et la vie d'apostolat. Par cet intellectualisme sage, précis et positif, opposé au sentimentalisme trouble et à l'illusionnisme, et tout orienté au bien de la société par sa théorétisation de la sainteté apostolique, ce joyau de la spiritualité du bas moyen âge garde une grande valeur d'actualité. Il peut être utilisé avec fruit par tous ceux qui ont charge d'âmes ou qui se consacrent à l'apostolat.

SON APOSTOLAT DE LA PAROLE.

C'est surtout en prêchant que maître Vincent enseigna la chrétienté et l'évangélisa « semblable à un ange volant au milieu du ciel ». La bulle de canonisation emploie cette expression imagée et délicate, qui symbolise fort bien comment il se dévoua sans relâche à l'apostolat de la parole. L'iconographie s'est emparée de cette image, et a représenté saint Vincent Ferrier des ailes à l'épaule et une trompette aux lèvres. Ce dernier détail parce que notre apôtre se serait cru l'ange apocalyptique annonçant la fin du monde. Il est vrai qu'il l'a affirmé en quelques occasions et qu'en ces circonstances il a cru la parousie imminente. Est-ce à dire que ce fut là l'idée force de sa vie ?

Certains biographes l'ont affirmé, ajoutant toutefois que s'il prêchait la fin du monde comme toute proche, c'était sous forme comminatoire : Si vous ne faites pénitence ; que de plus il se serait interposé comme un nouveau Jonas et en aurait retardé l'exécution par sa sainteté, sa pénitence, les résultats de sa prédication. D'autres affirment que ce thème d'horreur n'occupe qu'une place infime dans sa pensée, et que situé dans l'ensemble de son enseignement, ce rôle eschatologique n'a que fort peu d'importance : il n'occupe qu'un, deux, au maximum cinq pour cent de ses thèmes de prédication et ne représente par conséquent pas la vraie mission de maître Vincent. Cette solution mise en avant par le P. Gorce nous semble la plus plausible et trouve son appui dans les écrits mêmes de saint Vincent. Signalons sa lettre au pape Benoît XIII où il donne cette pensée, qu'il développe souvent en chaire : « Dieu seul connaît la date de la parousie et ce n'est pas à l'homme d'en connaître le temps et le moment ». Qu'on lise aussi à la fin du Traité de la vie spirituelle sa prophétie sur la prospérité future de l'Église.

Quoiqu'il en soit, il est bien évident que maître Vincent joua un rôle considérable dans la société du XIVe-XVe S. Pendant les vingt dernières années de sa vie, il prêchait tous les jours deux ou trois heures, parfois plus. Toute circonstance lui était bonne, tout auditoire lui convenait. Il prêchait à la ville, il prêchait à la compagne, dans les églises, plus souvent encore sur les places publiques, car on venait de loin pour l'entendre : les artisans quittaient leur atelier, les laboureurs leurs champs, les magistrats le palais, les officiers publics leur étude, maîtres et élèves les écoles, les Universités. Le peuple affluait sur la place par milliers, attendant durant des heures, parfois toute la nuit, l'arrivée du grand prédicateur. Depuis les temps de saint Bernard, aucune parole humaine n'attira de telles foules et ne plut tant à l'âme française ou espagnole que celle de maître Vincent. « Telle était son éloquence, dit Henri Ghéon, qu'elle ébranlait les pierres mêmes, par violence sans doute, mais aussi par persuasion ». Il prêchait dans sa langue maternelle, le valencien, dialecte proche du catalan, la langue des anciens troubadours, qui pouvait être comprise par les peuples de langue d'oc et de langue romane. Des sténographes recueillaient les paroles de l'orateur, des auditeurs prenaient des notes ou faisaient des résumés. Tout cela a été imprimé et publié, non sans que les rédacteurs n'aient mis quelque chose d'eux-mêmes dans leurs manuscrits catalans ou traductions latines, retranchant ou ajoutant quelque détail, amplifiant quelque anecdote ou parabole rapportée en chaire. Ces compilations plus ou moins fidèles ont été données au public comme les Sermons du saint. Elles ont en effet pour origine sa prédication, mais on ne peut dire qu'elles soient sa parole authentique. On peut toutefois, avec quelque profit, glaner dans ces recueils, même dans l'état d'imperfection où ils sont arrivés jusqu'à nous. C'est ce que nous avons fait en consultant les Canevas de sermons latins publiés par le P. Fages, certains extraits d'après des écrits catalans reproduits par le même auteur ou qu'on retrouve de ci, de là dans les bonnes biographies du P. Gorce, de H. Ghéon, dans les narrations pieuses de Bayle, Mouillard, Pradel, ou dans la revue Bona gent publiée à Valence lors du cinquième centenaire de la canonisation de saint Vincent Ferrier (texte catalan et traduction espagnole). Nous avons consulté la sélection des 25 discours de St Vincent Ferrier parue aux Blackfriars Publications, qui forment un commentaire remarquable sur la vie de Notre-Seigneur. L'auteur de cette sélection-traduction intitule très judicieusement son beau travail : une Christologie. Nous y renvoyons : A Christology from the sermons of St Vincent Ferrer of the Order of preachers, Blackfriars Publications, London, 1954. Cette même maison d'édition annonce pour l'année 1957 la traduction anglaise du Treatise on the spiritual life, suivie du commentaire de Mère Julienne Morell. Elle note la haute renommée dont jouit cet ouvrage, qui fut pendant toute une époque l'équivalent de L'Imitation de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ.

On pourra consulter l'article de Emmanuel Garcia Miralles : Los tratados « De suppositionibus terminorum » y « De universitata universalis », de San Vicente Ferrer, dans Estudios filosificos, IV (1955), pages 279-284. Du même auteur l'article San Vincente Ferrer, Anotador de santo Tomas, dans Revista espanola de teologia, XV (1955), pages 445-458. Ainsi espérons-nous donner un choix de textes suffisamment judicieux, qui mieux que tout ce qui a été écrit sur notre grand apôtre, fera ressortir sa forte personnalité et son enseignement tout à la fois intellectuel et populaire.


St Vincent Ferrier, confesseur

Mort à Vannes (Bretagne) le 5 avril 1419. Canonisé en 1456 par Callixte III.

Fête inscrite comme semidouble ad libitum en 1667 et obligatoire en 1706. Benoît XIII l’élève au rang de double en 1726.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Quatrième leçon. Vincent, né à Valence en Espagne, de parents honnêtes, montra dès sa jeunesse la maturité d’un vieillard. Ayant considéré avec l’étendue de son génie la fragilité de ce monde rempli de ténèbres, il reçut à l’âge de dix-huit ans l’habit religieux dans l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. Après avoir émis solennellement ses vœux, il s’appliqua assidûment à l’étude des saintes lettres, et obtint avec la plus grande distinction le grade de docteur en théologie. Ses supérieurs lui ayant bientôt permis de prêcher la parole de Dieu, il commença à confondre la perfidie des Juifs et à réfuter les erreurs des Sarrasins avec tant de force et de succès, qu’il amena à la foi du Christ une grande multitude de ces infidèles, et port plusieurs milliers de Chrétiens à renoncer au péché pou faire pénitence, et aux vice pour embrasser la vertu Vincent avait été choisi de Dieu pour répandre les enseignements du salut chez toutes les nations, quelles que fussent leur race et leur langue ; et, en annonçant l’approche du dernier et redoutable jugement, il frappait de terreur les âmes de tous ses auditeurs, les arrachait aux passions terrestres, et les excitait à l’amour de Dieu.

Cinquième leçon. Dans l’exercice de ce ministère apostolique, voici quel fut constamment son genre de vie : chaque jour, de grand matin, il célébrait une Messe chantée ; chaque jour aussi, il adressait un sermon au peuple ; il observait toujours un jeûne inviolable, à moins d’une urgente nécessité ; il ne refusait jamais à personne ses saints et équitables conseils ; jamais il ne mangea de viande ni ne porta de linge ; il apaisa les dissensions des peuples et rétablit la paix entre des royaumes divisés ; enfin, lorsque la tunique sans couture de l’Église fut déchirée par un schisme douloureux, Vincent travailla beaucoup à ramener et à maintenir l’union. Toutes les vertus brillèrent en lui ; marchant dans la simplicité et l’humilité, il reçut avec bonté et il embrassa ses détracteurs et ses persécuteurs.

Sixième leçon. La puissance divine opéra par lui beaucoup de prodiges et de miracles en confirmation de sa vie et de sa prédication. Très souvent, en effet, par l’imposition de ses mains, les malades recouvrèrent la santé ; il chassa des esprits immondes du corps des possédés, rendit l’ouïe aux sourds, la parole aux muets, la vue aux aveugles ; il guérit des lépreux et ressuscita des morts. Enfin, accablé par la vieillesse, et la maladie, cet infatigable héraut de l’Évangile, qui avait parcouru plusieurs pays de l’Europe au grand profit des âmes, acheva le cours de ses prédications et de sa vie à Vannes en Bretagne, l’an du salut mil quatre cent dix-neuf. Calixte III, a inscrit Vincent au nombre des Saints.

Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique



Aujourd’hui, c’est encore la catholique Espagne qui fournit à l’Église un de ses fils pour être proposé à l’admiration du peuple chrétien. Vincent Ferrier, l’Ange du jugement, la trompette des vengeances divines, se montre à nous, et vient glacer de terreur nos cœurs infidèles en faisant retentir l’arrivée prochaine du souverain Juge des vivants et des morts. Autrefois il sillonna l’Europe entière dans ses courses évangéliques, et les peuples remués par son éloquence foudroyante se frappaient la poitrine, criaient miséricorde au Seigneur, et se convertissaient. De nos jours, la pensée de ces redoutables assises que Jésus-Christ viendra tenir sur les nuées du ciel n’émeut plus autant les chrétiens. On croit au jugement dernier, parce que c’est un article de la foi ; mais on tremble peu dans l’attente de ce jour formidable. On pèche durant de longues années ; on se convertit un jour par une grâce toute spéciale de la bonté divine ; mais le grand nombre de ces néophytes continue à mener une vie molle, pense peu à l’enfer et à la réprobation, moins encore au terrible jugement par lequel Dieu doit en finir avec ce monde.

Il n’en était pas ainsi dans les siècles chrétiens ; il n’en est pas non plus ainsi chez les aines vraiment converties. L’amour en elles domine la crainte ; mais la crainte du jugement de Dieu veille toujours au fond de leur pensée : c’est cette disposition qui les rend fermes dans le bien qu’elles ont recouvré. Assurément, ils se demandent peu quelle sera leur situation au jour où le signe du Fils de l’homme brillera dans les cieux, où Jésus, non plus Rédempteur, mais Juge, séparera les boucs des brebis, ces chrétiens qui ont tant à expier, et pour lesquels, chaque année, le Carême n’est qu’une occasion de témoigner leur lâcheté et leur indifférence. A voir leur sécurité, on dirait qu’ils ont reçu l’assurance que ce moment terrible ne saurait receler pour eux ni une inquiétude, ni une déception. Ayons plus de prudence, gardons-nous des illusions de l’orgueil et de l’insouciance ; par une pénitence sincère, assurons-nous le droit d’envisager avec une humble confiance cette heure redoutable qui a fait trembler tous les saints. Quelle joie d’entendre cette parole sortir de la bouche du Juge incorruptible : « Venez, les bénis de mon Père ; possédez le royaume qui vous a été préparé dès l’origine du monde [1] ! » Vincent Ferrier s’arrache au repos de la cellule pour aller remuer des nations entières qui dormaient dans l’oubli du grand jour des justices ; nous n’avons pas, il est vrai, entendu sa parole ; mais n’avons-nous pas le saint Évangile ? N’avons-nous pas l’Église qui, dès l’entrée de la sainte carrière que nous parcourons, nous a fait lire les oracles formidables que Vincent Ferrier ne faisait que commenter devant les chrétiens de son temps ? Préparons-nous donc à paraître devant celui qui viendra demander compte des grâces qu’il nous prodigue, et qui sont le fruit de son sang ; en mettant à profit toutes les ressources de la sainte Quarantaine, nous pouvons nous préparer un jugement favorable.

Le Bréviaire de l’Ordre des Frères-Prêcheurs célèbre saint Vincent Ferrier par de magnifiques éloges. Nous lui emprunterons quatre Répons et une Antienne, afin de louer plus dignement l’illustre prédicateur.

R/. Le Père souverain, celui qui gouverne les peuples, sur le soir du monde qui s’affaisse, a envoyé Vincent comme un nouveau prophète chargé d’instruire le peuple chrétien ; Vincent annonce que le jugement de Dieu est proche, * Ce jugement que tous les hommes doivent voir de leurs yeux. V/. Il s’écrie souvent : Craignez Dieu ; l’heure de son jugement est arrivée. * Ce jugement que tous les hommes doivent voir de leurs yeux.

R/. Marchant à la suite du Christ par la voie difficile, il s’éloigna des plaisirs terrestres ; il fit briller l’éclat de la vérité ; il dissipa les ténèbres de l’erreur ; * Il resplendit dans les régions de l’Occident, et tout l’univers retentit de sa renommée. V/. Sa doctrine éclatait comme un soleil ; sa parole était ardente comme la flamme. * Il resplendit dans les régions de l’Occident, et tout l’univers retentit de sa renommée.

R/. La nuit, il s’appliquait aux lettres sacrées, veillant dans la contemplation ; au matin, comme un bel astre, il lançait les rayons de la doctrine ; * Le soir, il appliquait à tous les maux un remède salutaire. V/. Pas une heure de sa vie ne s’écoulait, sans qu’il l’eût remplie par quelque action sainte. * Le soir, il appliquait à tous les maux un remède salutaire.

R/. Proférant les paroles de l’éternelle vie, il enflammait l’âme de ses auditeurs ; il faisait pénétrer dans le cœur des hommes l’amour des dons célestes ; traitant des vertus avec une science profonde, * Il enseignait à dompter tous les vices. V/. Une foule avide de l’entendre le suivait, lorsqu’il s’énonçait de sa bouche divine. * Il enseignait à dompter tous les vices.

Ant. Rempli d’un esprit prophétique, Vincent parla merveilleusement sur la fin du monde ; comme un soleil, il se coucha à l’Occident de la terre, et escorté d’une troupe d’Anges, il monta aux lumineuses demeures du ciel.

Que votre voix fut éloquente, ô Vincent, lorsqu’elle vint réveiller l’assoupissement des hommes, et leur fit éprouver les terreurs du grand jugement ! Nos pères entendirent cette voix, et ils revinrent à Dieu, et Dieu leur pardonna. Nous aussi nous nous étions endormis, lorsque l’Église, à l’ouverture de cette sainte carrière, troubla notre sommeil en marquant de la cendre nos fronts coupables, et en nous rappelant l’irrévocable sentence de mort que Dieu a prononcée sur nous. Nous mourrons, et dans peu d’années ; nous mourrons, et un jugement particulier décidera de notre sort pour l’éternité. Puis, au moment marqué dans les décrets divins, nous ressusciterons, et ce sera pour assister au plus solennel et au plus formidable des jugements. En face du genre humain tout entier, nos consciences seront mises à nu ; nos bonnes et nos mauvaises œuvres seront pesées publiquement ; après quoi viendra la nouvelle promulgation de la sentence que nous aurons méritée. Pécheurs que nous sommes, comment soutiendrons-nous les regards du Rédempteur qui ne sera plus en ce moment qu’un Juge incorruptible ? Comment même supporterons-nous la vue de nos semblables, dont l’œil plongera dans toutes les iniquités de notre vie ? Mais surtout, des deux sentences que les hommes entendront prononcer sur eux, à laquelle aurons-nous droit ? Si le juge la proférait à l’heure où nous sommes, est-ce parmi les bénis de son Père, ou parmi les maudits ; est-ce à la droite, ou à la gauche, qu’il nous rangerait ?

Nos pères étaient saisis de crainte, lorsque vous leur adressiez ces questions, ô Vincent ! Ils firent une sincère pénitence de leurs péchés, et après avoir reçu le pardon du Seigneur, leurs craintes s’apaisèrent et firent place à l’espoir et à la confiance. Ange du jugement de Dieu, priez, afin que nous aussi nous soyons remués par une crainte salutaire. Dans peu de jours, nos yeux verront le Rédempteur monter au Calvaire, courbé sous le poids de la croix, et nous l’entendrons dire aux filles de Jérusalem : « Ne pleurez pas sur moi, mais sur vos enfants : car si l’on traite ainsi le bois vert, comment sera traité le bois sec [2] ? » Aidez-nous, ô Vincent, à profiter de cet avertissement. Nos péchés nous avaient réduits à la condition de ce bois mort qui n’est plus bon que pour le feu des vengeances divines ; par votre intercession, rattachez au tronc ces rameaux détachés, afin qu’ils reprennent vie, et que la sève circule de nouveau en eux. Ami des âmes, nous remettons entre vos mains l’œuvre de notre entière réconciliation avec Dieu. Priez aussi, ô Vincent, pour l’Espagne qui vous donna le jour et au sein de laquelle vous avez puisé la foi, la profession religieuse et le sacerdoce ; mais souvenez-vous de la France, votre seconde patrie, que vous avez évangélisée avec tant de fatigues et de succès ; souvenez-vous de la catholique Bretagne qui garde si religieusement votre dépouille sacrée. Vous fûtes notre Apôtre dans des temps malheureux : les jours que nous traversons semblent plus orageux encore ; daignez, du haut du ciel, vous montrer toujours notre fidèle protecteur.

[1] Luc. XI, 50.

[2] Luc XXIII, 31.


Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum



Voici l’ange du jugement, comme il se nommait lui-même. Durant le schisme d’Occident, alors que la robe sans couture de l’Église, du fait de la dispute entre plusieurs prétendants au Pontificat, était sur le point d’être déchirée, et que la corruption dés peuples chrétiens semblait préluder à la fin du monde, Vincent Ferrier, par sa parole énergique et par ses miracles, ramena à la pénitence une grande multitude de fidèles.

Au commencement, il fut le confesseur de l’antipape Pierre de Lune (Benoît XIII) et soutint son parti avec vigueur. Mais quand par la suite l’injustice des prétentions de l’ambitieux Espagnol fut reconnue, saint Vincent Ferrier s’en détacha et prédit même que le temps viendrait où les enfants joueraient à la balle avec son crâne. Il en fut comme il l’avait annoncé, car en 1811 les Français occupant le château d’Illuca, où gisait sans sépulture le corps de Pedro de Luna, en détachèrent le crâne et jetèrent le reste par la fenêtre.

La fête de saint Vincent Ferrier fut instituée par Clément IX (+ 1669). La messe est du Commun, sauf la première collecte qui est propre.

Dieu n’abandonne jamais l’Église, et l’histoire enseigne que, précisément au temps des grandes crises religieuses ou politiques, il envoie toujours de grands saints, pour sauver les peuples de la ruine. Nous aimons à mettre en relief une particularité liturgique mentionnée dans la vie de saint Vincent Ferrier : Quotidie Missam summo mane cum cantu celebravit. Nos pères, et aujourd’hui encore les Orientaux, consentaient difficilement à lire la messe ; ils avaient l’habitude de la chanter, comme l’avait fait Jésus au Cénacle avec les Apôtres.


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique



La liturgie unit l’office divin et l’Église.

Saint Vincent : Jour de mort : 5 avril 1419. — Tombeau : dans la cathédrale de Vannes. Image : On le représente en dominicain, portant dans la main un soleil avec les lettres J. H. S. Vie : Saint Vincent Ferrier, de l’Ordre des Dominicains, fut un prédicateur populaire assisté de Dieu, l’un des plus grands du 15e siècle. La fascination de ses discours entraînait tout le monde, de bon gré ou par force : rois, princes de l’Église, ecclésiastiques et séculiers, jusqu’au plus simple peuple. En Espagne seulement, sa parole et ses miracles auraient converti 25.000 Juifs et 8.000 Maures. Les sermons qu’il fit sont incalculables. On parle de 20.000. Il joua aussi un rôle bienfaisant au moment où prenait fin le grand schisme d’Occident. Il mourut en 1419.

Pratique : Le bréviaire raconte à son sujet : « Chaque jour, il célébrait de grand matin la messe chantée ; chaque jour, il prêchait au peuple ; il observait un jeûne continuel, ininterrompu. » Ces quelques mots nous peignent une vie liturgique idéale, unie à la charité lit plus active envers le prochain. Le saint se dépensa sans compter pour le bien du prochain. La liturgie unit harmonieusement le service de Dieu, l’amour du prochain et l’ascèse. — La messe (Os justi) est du [commun des confesseurs-332], c’est la messe du serviteur vigilant.

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/05-04-St-Vincent-Ferrier#nh1


VINCENT FERRIER

Prêtre dominicain, Saint

1350-1419

Il est né à Valence, en Espagne. Il entre à 17 ans chez les Dominicains, il étudie à Barcelone, puis à Toulouse. Il est ordonné prêtre en 1378. Dès le début, on remarque son talent de prédicateur et il est nommé aumônier du roi d’Aragon. A ce poste, il est appelé à arbitrer des conflits.

Intervention dans le Grand schisme

La déchirure dans l’Église partagée entre deux papes, l’un résidant à Rome, l’autre résidant en Avignon, va marquer profondément Saint Vincent Ferrier entre 1378 et 1417, date à laquelle cessera le schisme. Il oeuvre pour restaurer l’unité de l’Église.

En 1378, un pape est élu à Rome sous le nom d’Urbain VI. Les cardinaux prétendent avoir cédé à la pression populaire et certains d’entre eux, réunis à Avignon vont élire Clément VII. Vincent Ferrier se prononce pour Clément VII et il entraîne dans son sillage le roi d’Aragon et de Castille.

A la mort de Clément VII, c’est Pierre de Lune, un ami de Vincent qui est élu pape sous le nom de Benoît XIII. Il appelle Vincent près de lui à Avignon. Vincent aimerait que les deux papes, celui de Rome et celui d’Avignon, se désistent volontairement afin que l’unité de l’Église soit restaurée. Il n’est malheureusement pas écouté et on aboutira à l’élection d’un troisième pape en 1409. En 1414, un Concile se réunit à Constance pour mettre fin au schisme. Comme Benoît XIII refuse de se désister, Vincent condamne l’entêtement de son ami qui finira sa vie seul. L’unité est restaurée en 1417.

Vincent Ferrier Apôtre

Déçu par le refus de Benoît XIII de se démettre de sa fonction, Vincent avait décidé de se consacrer à l ’apostolat: il évangélise la Provence, le Dauphiné, la Suisse, l’Espagne, il essaie de rencontrer des juifs et des musulmans. Il défend avec ferveur le dogme de l’Incarnation. Il va passer les dernières années de sa vie en France, particulièrement en Bretagne. Il se nomme le « galérien de Dieu »: « je ne suis qu’un pauvre vieux brisé qui n’en peut plus, qui ne sait rien ou plutôt qui ne sait que son ignorance et sa lâcheté. Donnez-moi la grâce de me rendre compte de plus en plus que je ne suis rien et que vous êtes tout ».

Dans ses déplacements, il est suivi par une centaine de disciples; aux haltes, il prêche, il confesse, il célèbre la messe. Le soir, dans une chambre mise à sa disposition, il prie longuement et s’accorde très peu de repos. Il passe par Albi, Lyon, Dijon, Bourges, Angers et arrive en Bretagne où il a été mandé par le Duc. Si le duché est relativement calme, la situation spirituelle est cependant assez désastreuse. Les anciens monastères bénédictins connaissent une période de déclin, tandis que les ordres nouveaux, Franciscains et Dominicains, ne sont pas encore installés.

Vincent arrive à Vannes le dimanche des Rameaux 1418. Les notables s’avancent à sa rencontre. Devant, on a mis les malades, les infirmes et plusieurs guérisons ont lieu. Il prêche sur la place des Lices. Il va ensuite à Rennes, à Caen, à chaque étape on relate des miracles. Il passe par Bayeux, Coutances, Avranches, ces villes ont beaucoup souffert des luttes contre l’Angleterre, elles sont souvent privées de la présence de leur évêque. Il revient en Bretagne, entre une nouvelle fois à Vannes malade et y meurt le 5 avril 1419.

Le culte de saint Vincent Ferrier

Il fut enterré à la Cathédrale, comme les espagnols revendiquaient le corps, il fallut qu’une Bulle du pape mette fin au conflit. Les miracles se multiplièrent sur sa tombe. En 1451 s’ouvre le procès de canonisation. Des personnalités religieuses se réunissent à Malestroit, Vannes, se déplacent dans les villes qu’a visitées le prédicateur pour recueillir les témoignages oraux se rapportant aussi bien aux prédications qu’aux miracles. La canonisation fut prononcée en 1455 par un compatriote de Vincent. On procéda à la reconnaissance des reliques. Des disciples ont continué l’œuvre du prédicateur, parmi eux des laïcs, comme la duchesse Jeanne de Bretagne qui forma Françoise d’Amboise. Celle-ci sera plus tard la fondatrice du Carmel à Vannes.

La tapisserie de la chapelle Saint-Vincent représente plusieurs miracles ainsi que la canonisation. Un tableau de la cathédrale montre Vincent en train de guérir un paralytique. C’est Vincent qui est représenté sur le portail de la cathédrale. On visite la maison où est mort le saint, place Valencia. L’église de l’île aux Moines conserve un buste en bois qui reproduit fidèlement les traits du saint au terme d’une rude vie d’apostolat.

http://curia.op.org/fr/index.php/qui-sommes-nous/histoire/figures/92-vincent-ferrier-saint

SOURCE : http://alexandrina.balasar.free.fr/vincent_ferrier.htm


Saint Vincent Ferrier, vit le jour dans la ville de Valence (Espagne) le 23 janvier 1357 et mourut le 6 avrit 1419.

On voit ici Vincent près du lit d’un moribond désespéré, qui répond à toutes ses exhortations, par ces horribles paroles : “je veux me damner au déplaisir de Jésus-Christ.” Vincent, plein de confiance en la miséricorde de Dieu, se tourne vers le moribond et lui dit : “Malgré toi, je te sauverai.”

Il invite les personnes présentes à invoquer la Ste Vierge et l’on récite le Rosaire. Avant que le Rosaire ne soit terminé, la chambre du moribond se remplit tout-à-coup de lumière ; la Mère de Dieu apparaît, portant dans ses bras le divin Fils, mais tout couvert de sanglantes blessures. Le pécheur, témoin de ce spectacle demande pardon à Dieu et aux hommes.

Dans le tympan de la fenêtre, ses attributs, rappelant les différents traits de sa vie sont figurés. En voici l’énumération :

- Le crucifix des martyrs, le même qu’il mit sur la bouche d’un ecclésiastique d’Avignon pour le réconcilier avec Jésus Christ.

- Ses écrits, notamment le “Tractatus de vita spirituali.” Les paroles de l’Apocalypse : “Time Deum et honore debito eum prosequere - Ego sum angelus Apocalypseos.”

- Le monogramme de Jésus, avec ces paroles de St Paul : “portabis nomen meum coram populis et princibus.”

- Un chapeau de Cardinal renversé, pour exprimer son refus des dignités ecclésiastiques; un drapeau, comme symbole des prédications par lesquelles il enrôlait les pécheurs convertis sous la bannière de Jésus-Christ; le lis, symbole de la virginité conservée jusqu’à sa mort.

- Les fers de l’âne ; après avoir fait ferrer son âne et n’ayant pas de quoi payer, les fers tombèrent quand l’âne secoua les pieds.

- Les chandelles qui s’allumaient à l’anniversaire du Saint. Les ailes de Séraphin, qu’il prenait pour voler, consoler les malades.

- Le nuage miraculeux qui le rendait invisible à la reine d’Aragon et la trompette de l’Apocalypse

SOURCE : http://www.eglise-saint-charles.com/visite_verriere_vincent.html


St. Vincent Ferrer

Famous Dominican missionary, born at Valencia, 23 January, 1350; died at Vannes, Brittany, 5 April, 1419. He was descended from the younger of two brothers who were knighted for their valour in the conquest ofValencia, 1238. In 1340 Vincent's father, William Ferrer, married Constantia Miguel, whose family had likewise been ennobled during the conquest of Valencia. Vincent was their fourth child. A brother, not unknown tohistory, was Boniface Ferrer, General of the Carthusians, who was employed by the antipope Benedict XIII in important diplomatic missions. Vincent was educated at Valencia, and completed his philosophy at the age of fourteen. In 1367 he entered the Dominican Order, and was sent to the house of studies at Barcelona the following year. In 1370 he taught philosophy at Lérida; one of his pupils there was Pierre Fouloup, later Grand Inquisitor of Aragon. In 1373 Vincent returned to the Dominican "Studium arabicum et hebraicum" at Barcelona. During his stay there famine was prevalent; filled with compassion for the sufferers; Vincent foretold, while preaching one day, the near approach of ships bearing wheat. His prediction was fulfilled. In 1377 he was sent to continue his studies at Toulouse, where, in his own words, "study followed prayer, and prayer succeeded study". In 1379 Vincent was retained by Cardinal Pedro de Luna, legate of the Court of Aragon, who was endeavouring to win King Peter IV to the obedience of Avignon. The saint, thoroughly convinced of thelegitimacy of the claims of the Avignon pontiffs, was one of their strongest champions. From 1385 to 1390 he taught theology in the cathedral at Valencia.


After this Vincent carried on his apostolic work while in Pedro de Luna's suite. At Valladolid he converted arabbi, later well known as Bishop Paul of Burgos. At Salamanca Queen Yolanda of Aragon chose him for herconfessor, 1391-5. About this time he was cited before the Inquisiton for preaching publicly "the Judas had done penance", but Pedro de Luna, recently raised to the papal chair as Benedict XIII, cited the case before his tribunal and burned the papers. Benedict then called him to Avignon and appointed him confessor andApostolic penitentiary. Notwithstanding the indifference of so many prelates in the papal Court, he labouredzealously among the people. He steadfastly refused the honours, including the cardinalate, which were offeredto him. France withdrew from the obedience of Avignon in September, 1398, and the troops of Charles VI laid siege to the city. An attack of fever at this time brought Vincent to death's door, but during an apparition ofChrist accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Francis he was miraculously cured and sent to preach penance and prepare men for the coming judgment. Not until November, 1399, did Benedict allow Vincent Ferrer to begin hisapostolate, furnished with full powers of a legate a latere Christi. For twenty years he traversed westernEurope, preaching penance for sin and preparation for judgment. Provence was the first field of his apostolate; he was obliged to preach in squares and open places, such were the numbers that flocked to hear him. In 1401 he evangelized Dauphiny, Savoy, and the Alpine region, converting many Catharins and Waldensians. Thence he penetrated into Lombardy. While preaching at Alexandria he singled out from among the hearers a youth who was destined to evangelize Italy, Bernadine of Siena. Another chosen soul with whom Vincent came in contact while in Italy was Margaret of Savoy. During the years 1403-4 Switzerland, Savoy, and Lyons received the missionary. He was followed by an army of penitents drawn from every rank of society, who desired to remain under his guidance. Vincent was ever watchful of his disciples, and never did the breath of scandaltouch this strange assemblage, which numbered at times 10,000. Genoa, Flanders, Northern France, all heardVincent in turn. It would be difficult to understand how he could make himself understood by the many nationalities he evangelized, as he could speak only Limousin, the language of Valencia. Many of his biographers hold that he was endowed with the gift of tongues, an opinion supported by Nicholas Clemangis, adoctor of the University of Paris, who had heard him preach.

In 1408 Vincent was at Genoa consoling the plague-stricken. A meeting had been arranged there betweenGregory XII and Benedict XIII in the hope of putting an end to the schism. Vincent again urged Benedict to have pity on the afflicted Church, but in vain. Disappointed, he returned to Spain. It would be difficult to overestimate the influence which he exercised in the Iberian peninsula. Castile, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia,Granada, Andalusia, and Asturias were visited in turn, and everywhere miracles marked his progress;Christians, Jews, and Moslems were all lost in admiration of the thaumaturgus. From 1408 until 1416 he worked almost continuously south of the Pyrenees. At different times in Spanish history strenuous attempts had been made to convert the Jewish people, baptism or spoliation being the alternatives offered to them. This state of affairs existed when Vincent began to work among them; multitudes were won over by his preaching. Ranzano, his first biographer, estimates the number of Jews converted at 25,000. In the Kingdom of Granada he converted thousands of Moors. Vincent was often called upon to aid his country in temporal affairs, as the counsellor of kings and at one time the arbiter of the destiny of Spain. In 1409 he was commissioned byBenedict XIII to announce to Martin of Aragon the death of his only son and heir.

After Martin's death, the representatives of the Kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia appointed Vincentone of the judges to determine the succession to the Crown. At the judgment, known as the Compromise ofCaspe, he took the leading part and helped to elect Ferdinand of Castile. Vincent was one of the most resolute and faithful adherents of Benedict XIII, and by his word, sanctity, and miracles he did much to strengthenBenedict's position. It was not until 1416, when pressed by Ferdinand, King of Aragon, that he abandoned him. On 6 January, preaching at Perpignan, he declared anew to the vast throng gathered around his pulpit thatBenedict XIII was the legitimate pope, but that, since he would not resign to bring peace to the Church,Ferdinand had withdrawn his states from the obedience of Avignon. This act must have caused Vincent much sorrow, for he was deeply attached to Benedict. Nevertheless, it was thought that Vincent was the only personsufficiently esteemed to announce such a step to the Spanish races. John Dominici was more fortunate in his attempts to pave the way for reunion, when he announced to the Council of Constance the resignation ofGregory XII. Vincent did not go to the Council of Constance; he continued his apostolic journeys throughFrance, and spent the last two years of his life in Brittany, where consciences without number were reformed and instructed in a Christian way of life.

Vincent felt that he was the messenger of penance sent to prepare men for the judgment. For twenty years he traversed Western Europe preaching penance and awakening the dormant consciences of sinners by his wondrous eloquence. His austere life was but the living expression of his doctrine. The floor was his usual bed; perpetually fasting, he arose at two in the morning to chant the Office, celebrating Mass daily, afterwards preaching, sometimes three hours, and frequently working miracles. After his midday meal he would tend the sick children; at eight o'clock he prepared his sermon for the following day. He usually travelled on foot, poorly clad. Among St. Vincent's writings are: De suppositionibus dialecticis"; "De natura universalis"; "De monderno ecclesiae schismate", a defence of the Avignon pontiffs; and "De vita spirituali". His "Sermons" were published at Antwerp (1570), Augsburg (1729), and Lyons (1816); and his complete works at Valence (1591). He wascanonized by Calixtus III at the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome, 3 June, 1455.

Sources

The earliest biographer of St. Vincent Ferrer is RANZANO, see Acta SS., I April, 482-512; ANTIST, Vida y historia del apostolico predictor. Vte Ferrer (Valentia, 1575); MIGUEL, Portentosa vida y milagros de s. Vincente Ferrer (Madrid, 1856); DAVILA, Hist. de Henrique III de Castilla (1638); QUETIF-ECHARD, Script. ord. praed., I (Paris, 1719), 763-8; FAGES, Hist. de s. Vincent Ferrier (Louvain, 1901); IDEM, Procès de canonisation de St. Vincent Ferrier (Louvain, 1904): IDEM, Notes et doc. De l'hist. de s. Vincent Ferrier (Louvain, 1905); DE ALPARTILS, Chron. actitatorum temporibus Benedicti XIII, ed. EHRLE (Paderborn, 1906); CHABAS, Estudio sobre los sermones valencianos de san Vincente Ferrer que se conservan manuscriptos en la basilica de Valencia in Rev. de archivos bibliotecas y museos (Madrid, 1902-3); HELLER, V. Ferrer und sein Leben und Wirken (Berlin, 1830); MORTIER, Hist des maitres generaux de l'ordre des frères prêcheurs (Paris, 1909); ALLIES, Three Cath. Reformers of the Fifteenth Century (London, 1879). See also Revue de Bretagne for the apostolate of St. Vincent in that country; Annales du Midi, for his postolate in Central France; and Hist. Jahrbuch (1896-8).

Reinhart, Albert. "St. Vincent Ferrer." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 4 Apr. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15437a.htm>.


Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Dedicated to St. Vincent Ferrer; please intercede for us.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Saint Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer is the patron saint of builders because of his fame for “building up” and strengthening the Church: through his preaching, missionary work, in his teachings, as confessor and adviser.  At Valencia in Spain, this illustrious son of St. Dominic came into the world on January 23, 1357. In the year 1374, he entered the Order of St. Dominic in a monastery near his native city. Of a very ardent nature, Vincent practiced the austerities of his Order with great energy. He was chosen prior of the Dominican house in Valencia shortly after his ordination.

Soon after his profession he was commissioned to deliver lectures on philosophy. On being sent to Barcelona, he continued his scholastic duties and at the same time devoted himself to preaching. At Lerida, the famous university city of Catalonia, he received his doctorate. After this he labored six years in Valencia, during which time he perfected himself in the Christian life. In 1390, he was obliged to accompany Cardinal Pedro de Luna to France, but he soon returned home.

The Western Schism divided Christianity first between two, then three, popes. Clement VII lived at Avignon in France, Urban VI in Rome. Vincent was convinced the election of Urban was invalid (though Catherine of Siena was just as devoted a supporter of the Roman pope). In the service of Cardinal de Luna, he worked to persuade Spaniards to follow Clement. When Clement died, Cardinal de Luna was elected at Avignon and became Benedict XIII.

When, in 1394, de Luna himself had become Pope at Avignon he summoned St. Vincent and made him Master of the sacred palace. In this capacity St. Vincent made unsuccessful efforts to put an end to the great schism. He refused all ecclesiastical dignities, even the cardinal’s hat, and only craved to be appointed apostolical missionary.

He tried, unsuccessfully, in 1408 and 1415, to persuade his former friend to resign. He finally concluded that Benedict was not the true pope. Though very ill, he mounted the pulpit before an assembly over which Benedict himself was presiding and thundered his denunciation of the man who had ordained him a priest. Benedict fled for his life, abandoned by those who had formerly supported him.

Now began those labors that made him the famous missionary of the fourteenth century. An eloquent and fiery preacher, he spent the last 20 years of his life spreading the Good News in Spain, France, Switzerland, the Low Countries and Lombardy, stressing the need of repentance and the fear of coming judgment. (He became known as the “Angel of the Judgment.”) Numerous conversions followed his preaching, which God Himself assisted by the gift of miracles. He lived to behold the end of the great schism and the election of Pope Martin V. Finally, crowned with labors, he died April 5, 1419. His feast day is April 5.


SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/vincent-ferrer/


Saint Vincent Ferrer, C.O.P.

Memorial Day: April 5th

Profile
    Born into a noble, pious family headed by the Englishman William Ferrer and the Spanish woman Constantia Miguel, Saint Vincent's career of miracle-working began early. Prodigies attended his birth and baptism on the same day at Valencia, and, at age 5, he cured a neighbor child of a serious illness. These gifts and his natural beauty of person and character made him the center of attention very early in life.

    His parents instilled into Vincent an intense devotion to our Lord and His Mother and a great love of the poor. He fasted regularly each Wednesday and Friday on bread and water from early childhood, abstained from meat, and learned to deny himself extravagances in order to provide alms for necessities. When his parents saw that Vincent looked upon the poor as the members of Christ and that he treated them with the greatest affection and charity, they made him the dispenser of their bountiful alms. They gave him for his portion a third part of their possessions, all of which he distributed among the poor in four days.

    Vincent began his classical studies at the age of 8, philosophy at 12, and his theological studies at age 14. As everyone expected, he entered the Dominican priory of Valencia and received the habit on February 5, 1367. So angelic was his appearance and so holy his actions, that no other course seemed possible to him than to dedicate his life to God.

    No sooner had he made his choice of vocation than the devil attacked him with the most dreadful temptations. Even his parents, who had encouraged his vocation, pleaded with him to leave the monastery and become a secular priest. By prayer and faith, especially prayer to Our Lady and his guardian angel, Vincent triumphed over his difficulties and finished his novitiate.

    He was sent to Barcelona to study and was appointed reader in philosophy at Lerida, the most famous university in Catalonia, before he was 21. While there he published two treatises (Dialectic suppositions was one) that were well received.

    In 1373, he was sent to Barcelona to preach, despite the fact that he held only deacon's orders. The city, laid low by a famine, was desperately awaiting overdue shipments of corn. Vincent foretold in a sermon that the ships would come before night, and although he was rebuked by his superior for making such a prediction, the ships arrived that day. The joyful people rushed to the priory to acclaim Vincent a prophet. The prior, however, thought it would be wise to transfer him away from such adulation.

    Another story tells us that some street urchins drew his attention to one of their gang who was stretched out in the dust, pretending to be dead, near the port of Grao: "He's dead, bring him back to life!" they cried.

    "Ah," replied Vincent, "he was playing dead but the, look, he did die." This is how one definitely nails a lie: by regarding it as a truth. And it turned out to be true, the boy was quite dead. Everyone was gripped with fear. They implored Vincent to do something. God did. He raised him up.

    In 1376, Vincent was transferred to Toulouse for a year, and continued his education. Having made a particular study of Scripture and Hebrew, Vincent was well-equipped to preach to the Jews. He was ordained a priest at Barcelona in 1379, and became a member of Pedro (Peter) Cardinal de Luna's court--the beginning of a long friendship that was to end in grief for both of them. (Cardinal de Luna had voted for Pope Urban VI in 1378, but convinced that the election had been invalid, joined a group of cardinals who elected Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII later in the same year; thus, creating a schism and the line of Avignon popes.)

    After being recalled to his own country, Vincent preached very successfully at the cathedral in Valencia from 1385-1390, and became famed for his eloquence and effectiveness at converting Jews--Rabbi Paul of Burgos, the future bishop of Cartagena was one of Vincent's 30,000 Jewish and Moorish converts--and reviving the faith of those who had lapsed. His numerous miracles, the strength and beauty of his voice, the purity and clarity of his doctrine, combined to make his preaching effective, based as it was on a firm foundation of prayer.

    Of course, Vincent's success as a preacher drew the envy of others and earned him slander and calumny. His colleagues believed that they could make amends for the calumny by making him prior of their monastery in Valencia. He did withdraw for a time into obscurity. But he was recalled to preach the Lenten sermons of 1381 in Valencia, and he could not refuse to employ the gift of speech which drew to him the good and simple people as well as the captious pastors, the canons, and the skeptical savants of the Church.

    Peter de Luna, a stubborn and ambitious cardinal, made Vincent part of his baggage, so to speak; because from 1390 on, Vincent preached wherever Peter de Luna happened to be, including the court of Avignon, where Vincent enjoyed the advantage of being confessor to the pope, when Peter de Luna became the antipope Benedict XIII in 1394.

    Two evils cried out for remedy in Saint Vincent's day: the moral laxity left by the great plague, and the scandal of the papal schism. In regard to the first, he preached tirelessly against the evils of the time. That he espoused the cause of the wrong man in the papal disagreement is no argument against Vincent's sanctity; at the time, and in the midst of such confusion, it was almost impossible to tell who was right and who was wrong. The memorable thing is that he labored, with all the strength he could muster, to bring order out of chaos. Eventually, Vincent came to believe that his friend's claims were false and urged de Luna to reconcile himself to Urban VI.

    He acted as confessor to Queen Yolanda of Aragon from 1391 to 1395. He was accused to the Inquisition of heresy because he taught that Judas had performed penance, but the charge was dismissed by the antipope Benedict XIII, who burned the Inquisition's dossier on Vincent and made him his confessor.

Benedict offered Vincent a bishopric, but refused it. Distressed by the great schism and by Benedict's unyielding position, he advised him to confer with his Roman rival. Benedict refused. Reluctantly, Vincent was obliged to abandon de Luna in 1398. The strain of this conflict between friendship and truth caused Vincent to become dangerously ill in 1398. During his illness, he experienced a vision in which Christ and Saints Dominic and Francis instructed him to preach penance whenever and wherever he was needed, and he was miraculously cured.

    After recovering, he pleaded to be allowed to devote himself to missionary work. He preached in Carpetras, Arles, Aix, and Marseilles, with huge crowds in attendance. Between 1401 and 1403, the saint was preaching in the Dauphiné, in Savoy, and in the Alpine valleys: he continued on to Lucerne, Lausanne, Tarentaise, Grenoble, and Turin. He was such an effective speaker that, although he spoke only Spanish, he was thought by many to be multilingual (the gift of tongues?). His brother Boniface was the prior of the Grande Chartreuse, and as a result of Vincent's preaching, several notable subjects entered the monastery.

    Miracles were attributed to him. In 1405, Vincent was in Genoa and preached against the fantastic head-dresses worn by the Ligurian ladies, and they were modified--"the greatest of all his marvelous deeds, reports one of his biographers. From Genoa, he caught a ship to Flanders. Later, in the Netherlands, an hour each day was scheduled for his cures. In Catalonia, his prayer restored the withered limbs of a crippled boy, deemed incurable by his physicians, named John Soler, who later became the bishop of Barcelona. In Salamanca in 1412, he raised a dead man to life. Perhaps the greatest miracle occurred in the Dauphiné, in an area called Vaupute, or Valley of Corruption. The natives there were so savage that no minister would visit them. Vincent, ever ready to suffer all things to gain souls, joyfully risked his life among these abandoned wretches, converted them all from their errors and vices. Thereafter, the name of the valley was changed to Valpure, or Valley of Purity, a name that it has retained.

    He preached indefatigably, supplementing his natural gifts with the supernatural power of God, obtained through his fasting, prayers, and penance. Such was the fame of Vincent's missions, that King Henry IV of England sent a courtier to him with a letter entreating him to preach in his dominions. The king sent one of his own ships to fetch him from the coast of France, and received him with the greatest honors. The saint having employed some time in giving the king wholesome advice both for himself and his subjects, preached in the chief towns of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Returning to France, he did the same, from Gascony to Picardy.

    The preaching of Saint Vincent became a strange but marvelously effective process. He attracted to himself hundreds of people--at one time, more than 10,000--who followed him from place to place in the garb of pilgrims. The priests of the company sang Mass daily, chanted the Divine Office, and dispensed the sacraments to those converted by Vincent's preaching. Men and women travelled in separate companies, chanting litanies and prayers as they went barefoot along the road from city to city. They taught catechism where needed, founded hospitals, and revived a faith that had all but perished in the time of the plague.

    The message of his preaching was penance, the Last Judgment, and eternity. Like another John the Baptist--who was also likened to an angel, as Saint Vincent is in popular art--he went through the wilderness crying out to the people to make straight the paths of the Lord. Fearing the judgment, if for no other reason, sinners listened to his startling sermons, and the most obstinate were led by him to cast off sin and love God. He worked countless miracles, some of which are remembered today in the proverbs of Spain. Among his converts were Saint Bernardine of Siena and Margaret of Savoy.
    He returned to Spain in 1407. Despite the fact that Granada was under Moorish rule, he preached successfully, and thousands of Jews and Moors were said to have been converted and requested baptism. His sermons were often held in the open air because the churches were too small for all those who wished to hear him.

    In 1414 the Council of Constance attempted the end the Great Schism, which had grown since 1409 with three claimants to the papal throne. The council deposed John XXIII, and demanded the resignation of Benedict XIII and Gregory XII so that a new election could be held. Gregory was willing, but Benedict was stubborn. Again, Vincent tried to persuade Benedict to abdicate. Again, he failed. But Vincent, who acted as a judge in the Compromise of Caspe to resolve the royal succession, influenced the election of Ferdinand as king of Castile. Still a friend of Benedict (Peter de Luna), King Ferdinand, basing his actions on Vincent's opinion on the issue, engineered Benedict's deposition in 1416, which ended the Western Schism.

    (It is interesting to note that the edicts of the Council of Constance were thrown out by the succeeding pope. The council had mandated councils every ten years and claimed that such convocations had precedence over the pope.)

    His book, Treatise on the Spiritual Life is still of value to earnest souls. In it he writes: "Do you desire to study to your advantage? Let devotion accompany all your studies, and study less to make yourself learned than to become a saint. Consult God more than your books, and ask him, with humility, to make you understand what you read. Study fatigues and drains the mind and heart. Go from time to time to refresh them at the feet of Jesus Christ under his cross. Some moments of repose in his sacred wounds give fresh vigor and new lights. Interrupt your application by short, but fervent and ejaculatory prayers: never begin or end your study but by prayer. Science is a gift of the Father of lights; do not therefore consider it as barely the work of your own mind or industry."

    It seems that Vincent practiced what he preached. He always composed his sermons at the foot of a crucifix, both to beg light from Christ crucified, and to draw from that object sentiments with which to animate his listeners to penance and the love of God.

    Saint Vincent also preached to Saint Colette and her nuns, and it was she who told him that he would die in France. Indeed, Vincent spent his last three years in France, mainly in Normandy and Brittany, and he died on the Wednesday of Holy Week in Vannes, Brittany, after returning from a preaching trip to Nantes. The day of his burial was a great popular feast with a procession, music, sermons, songs, miracles, and even minor brawls (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gheon, Husenbeth, Walsh, White).

Born: 1350 at Valencia, Spain

Died: April 5th in 1419 at Vannes, Brittany , France

Canonized: 1458

Patronage: brick makers; builders; Calamonaci, Italy; construction workers; pavement workers; plumbers; tile makers

Representation: cardinal's hat; Dominican preacher with a flame on his hand; Dominican preacher with a flame on his head; Dominican holding an open book while preaching; Dominican with a cardinal's hat; Dominican with a crucifix; Dominican with wings; flame; pulpit; trumpet

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. Vincent, who, enlightened with the gift of prophecy, taught wondrous things concerning the end of time, on the verge of the western world sank like the sun to rest; and now surrounded by a host of angels he dwells in regions of light. (P.T., Alleluia.)

V. Pray for us Blessed Vincent. (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T., Alleluia.)

Lauds:

Ant. To him whose spotless purity of life shone with virginal brightness, the truth of whose doctrine grew everywhere brilliant through preaching, Goodness Supreme hath awarded a double crown. (P.T., Alleluia.)

V. The just man shall blossom like the lily (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. And shall flourish forever before the Lord. (P.T., Alleluia.)

Second Vespers:

Ant.  O Vincent, glorious Father, who mounting the heights of heaven wast greeted by the plaudits of angelic choirs guide us who have often sounded thy praises to the delightful kingdom of the blessed. (P.T., Alleluia.)

V. Pray for us , Blessed Vincent. (P.T., Alleluia.)

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. (P.T., Alleluia.)

Prayer:

Let us pray: O god, who didst bring a multitude of nations to the knowledge of Thy holy name by the wonderful preaching of Blessed Vincent, Thy Confessor, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may deserve to find in heaven a bountiful rewarder in Him whom he announced on earth as the judge to come: Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer II:

O God, through the wonderful preaching of your confessor, the blessed Vincent, you granted that a multitude of peoples should come to acknowledge your name; grant, we beseech you, that we may be worthy to be rewarded in heaven by him whom he announced on earth as the Judge who is to come , our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you. Amen.

Readings :

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 from On the Spiritual Life

"Whatever you do, think not of yourselves but of God." 

--Saint Vincent Ferrerr



SOURCE : http://www.willingshepherds.org/Dominican%20Saints%20II.html



St. Vincent Ferrer, Confessor

From his life, written by Ranzano, bishop of Lucera, in order to his canonization, in Henschenius, with the notes of Papebroke. See Touron, Hommes Illustres de l’Ordre de St. Dominique, t. 3. Fleury, b. 110.

A.D. 1419.


ST. VINCENT FERRER was born at Valentia, in Spain, on the 23rd of January, 1357. His parents were persons distinguished for their virtue and alms-deeds. They made it their rule to distribute in alms whatever they could save out of the necessary expenses of their family at the end of every year. Two of their sons became eminent in the church. Boniface, who died general of the Carthusians, and St. Vincent, who brought with him into the world a happy disposition for learning and piety, which were improved from his cradle by study and a good education. In order to subdue his passions he fasted rigorously from his childhood every Wednesday and Friday. The passion of Christ was always the object of his most tender devotion. The Blessed Virgin he ever honoured as his spiritual mother. Looking on the poor as the members of Christ, he treated them with the greatest affection and charity, which being observed by his parents, they made him the dispenser of their bountiful alms. They gave him for his portion the third part of their possessions, all which he in four days’ time distributed amongst the poor. He began his course of philosophy at twelve years of age, and his theology at the end of his fourteenth year. His progress was such that he seemed a master in both studies at the age of seventeen; and by his affectionate piety he had obtained an eminent gift of tears in that tender age. His father having proposed to him the choice of a religious, an ecclesiastical, or a secular state, Vincent, without hesitation, said, it was his earnest desire to consecrate himself to the service of God in the Order of St. Dominick. His good parents with joy conducted him to a convent of that Order in Valentia, and he put on the habit in 1374, in the beginning of his eighteenth year.

He made a surprisingly rapid progress in the paths of perfection, taking St. Dominick for his model. To the exercises of prayer and penance he joined the study and meditation of the holy scriptures, and the reading of the fathers. Soon after his solemn profession, he was deputed to read lectures of philosophy, and at the end of his course, published a treatise on Dialectic Suppositions, being not quite twenty-four years old. He was then sent to Barcelona, where he continued his scholastic exercises, and at the same time preached the word of God with great fruit, especially during a great famine, when he foretold the arrival of two vessels laden with corn, the same evening, to relieve the city; which happened, contrary to all expectation. From thence he was sent to Lerida, the most famous university of Catalonia. There continuing his apostolic functions and scholastic disputations, he commenced doctor, receiving the cap from the hands of Cardinal Peter de Luna, legate of Pope Clement VII. in 1384, being twenty-eight years of age. At the earnest importunities of the bishop, clergy, and people of Valentia, he was recalled to his own country, and pursued there both his lectures and his preaching with such extraordinary reputation, and so manifestly attended with the benediction of the Almighty that he was honoured in the whole country above what can be expressed. As a humiliation, God permitted an angel of Satan to molest him with violent temptations of the flesh, and to fill his imagination with filthy ideas, the fiend rather hoping to disturb than seduce him. Also a wicked woman who entertained a criminal passion for our saint, feigned herself sick, and sending for him on pretence of hearing her confession, took that occasion to declare to him her vicious inclinations, and did all in her power to pervert him. The saint, like another Joseph, in the utmost horror, and in an humble distrust of himself, without staying to answer her one word, betook himself to flight. The unhappy woman, enraged at his conduct, acted the part of Potiphar’s wife in calumniating him. But her complaints meeting with little or no credit, she, upon reflection, became sensible of her fault: and, being stung with remorse, made him public amends to the best of her power. The saint most readily pardoned her, and cured a disturbance of mind into which she was fallen. The arms which the saint employed against the devil were prayer, penance, and a perpetual watchfulness over every impulse of his passions. His heart was always fixed on God, and he made his studies, labour, and all his other actions a continual prayer. The same practice he proposes to all Christians, in his book entitled: A Treatise on a spiritual Life, in which he writes thus: “Do you desire to study to your advantage? Let devotion accompany all your studies, and study less to make yourself learned than to become a saint. Consult God more than your books, and ask him, with humility, to make you understand what you read. Study fatigues and drains the mind and heart. Go from time to time to refresh them at the feet of Jesus Christ under his cross. Some moments of repose in his sacred wounds give fresh vigour and new lights. Interrupt your application by short, but fervent and ejaculatory prayers: never begin or end your study but by prayer. Science is a gift of the Father of Lights: do not therefore consider it as barely the work of your own mind or industry.” He always composed his sermons at the foot of a crucifix, both to beg light from Christ crucified, and to draw from that object sentiments wherewith to animate his auditors to penance and the love of God.

St. Vincent had lived thus six years at Valentia, assiduously pursuing his apostolical labours, under great persecutions from the devils and carnal men, but in high esteem among the virtuous, when Cardinal Peter de Luna, legate of Clement VII. in Spain, was appointed to go from thence in the same capacity to Charles VI., king of France. Arriving at Valentia in 1390, he obliged the saint to accompany him into France. While the cardinal, who had too much of the spirit of the world, was occupied in politics, Vincent had no other employ or concern than that of the conversion of souls, and of the interests of Jesus Christ: and the fruits of his labours in Paris were not less than they had been in Spain. In the beginning of the year 1394, the legate returned to Avignon, and St. Vincent, refusing his invitations to the court of Clement VII., went to Valentia. Clement VII. dying at Avignon, in 1394, during the great schism, Peter de Luna was chosen pope by the French and Spaniards, and took the name of Benedict XIII. He commanded Vincent to repair to Avignon, and made him Master of the Sacred Palace. The saint laboured to persuade Benedict to put an end to the schism, but obtained only promises, which the ambitious man often renewed, but always artfully eluded. Vincent in the mean time applied himself to his usual functions, and by his preaching reformed the city of Avignon; but, to breathe a free air of solitude, he retired from court to a convent of his Order. Benedict offered him bishoprics and a cardinal’s hat; but he steadfastly refused all dignities; and, after eighteen months, earnestly entreated to be appointed apostolical missionary; and so much did the opinion of his sanctity prevail, that the opposing his desire was deemed an opposition to the will of heaven. Benedict therefore granted his request, gave him his benediction, and invested him with the power of apostolical missionary, constituting him also his legate and vicar.

Before the end of the year 1398, St. Vincent, being forty-two years old, set out from Avignon towards Valentia. He preached in every town with wonderful efficacy, and the people having heard him in one place followed him in crowds to others. Public usurers, blasphemers, debauched women, and other hardened sinners, every where were induced by his discourses to embrace a life of penance. He converted a prodigious number of Jews and Mahometans, heretics and schismatics. He visited every province of Spain in this manner, except Galicia. He returned thence into France, and made some stay in Languedoc, Provence, and Dauphiné. He went thence into Italy, preaching on the coasts of Genoa, in Lombardy, Piedmont, and Savoy: as he did in part of Germany, about the Upper Rhine, and through Flanders. Such was the fame of his missions, that Henry IV., king of England, wrote to him, in the most respectful terms, and sent his letter by a gentleman of his court, entreating him to preach also in his dominions. He accordingly sent one of his ships to fetch him from the coast of France, and received him with the greatest honours. The saint having employed some time in giving the king wholesome advice both for himself and his subjects, preached in the chief towns of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Returning into France, he did the same, from Gascony to Picardy. Numerous wars, and the unhappy great schism in the church, had been productive of a multitude of disorders in Christendom; gross ignorance, and a shocking corruption of manners, prevailed in many places; whereby the teaching of this zealous apostle, who, like another Boanerges, preached in a voice of thunder, became not only useful, but even absolutely necessary, to assist the weak and alarm the sinner. The ordinary subjects of his sermons were sin, death, God’s judgments, hell, and eternity. He delivered his discourses with so much energy, that he filled the most insensible with terror. Whilst he was preaching one day at Thoulouse, his whole auditory was seized with trembling. At his sermons persons often fainted away, and he was frequently obliged to stop, to give leisure for the venting of the sobs and sighs of the congregation. His sermons were not only pathetic, but were also addressed to the understanding, and supported with a wonderful strength of reasoning, and the authorities of scriptures and fathers, which he perfectly understood and employed as occasion required. His gifts of miracles, and the sanctity of his penitential life, gave to his words the greatest weight. Amidst these journeys and fatigues he never ate flesh, fasted every day, except Sundays, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he lived on bread and water, which course he held for forty years: he lay on straw or small twigs. He spent a great part of the day in the confessional with incredible patience, and there finished what he had begun in the pulpit. He had with him five friars of his Order, and some other priests to assist him. Though by his sermons thousands were moved to give their possessions to the poor, he never accepted anything himself; and was no less scrupulous in cultivating in his heart the virtue and spirit of obedience than that of poverty; for which reason he declined accepting any dignity in the church or superiority in his Order. He laboured thus near twenty years, till 1417, in Spain, Majorca, Italy, and France. During this time, preaching in Catalonia, among other miracles, he restored to the use of his limbs John Soler, a crippled boy, judged by the physicians incurable, who afterward became a very eminent man, and bishop of Barcelona. In the year 1400, he was at Aix in Provence: in 1401, in Piedmont, and the neighbouring parts of Italy, being honourably received in the Obedience 1 of each pope. Returning into Savoy and Dauphiné, he found there a valley called Vaupute, or Valley of Corruption, in which the inhabitants were abandoned to cruelty and shameful lusts. After long experience of their savage manners, no minister of the gospel durst hazard himself among them. Vincent was ready to suffer all things to gain souls, and to snatch from the devil a prey which he had already seemingly devoured. He joyfully exposed his life among those abandoned wretches, converted them all from their errors and vices, and changed the name of the valley into Valpure or Valley of Purity, which name it ever after retained.

Being at Geneva in 1403, he wrote a letter to his general, still extant, in which, among other things, he informed him, that after singing mass he preached twice or thrice every day, preparing his sermons while he was on the road: that he had employed three months in travelling from village to village, and from town to town, in Dauphiné, announcing the word of God; making a longer stay in three valleys in the diocess of Embrun, namely, Lucerna, Argenteya, and Vaupute, having converted almost all the heretics which peopled those parts: that being invited in the most pressing manner into Piedmont, he for thirteen months preached and instructed the people there, in Montserrat, and the valleys, and brought to the faith a multitude of Vaudois and other heretics. He says, the general source of their heresy was ignorance and want of an instructor, and cries out: “I blush and tremble when I consider the terrible judgment impending on ecclesiastical superiors, who live at their ease in rich palaces, &c., whilst so many souls redeemed by the blood of Christ are perishing. I pray without ceasing the Lord of the harvest that he send good workmen into his harvest.” 2 He adds, that he had in the valley of Luferia converted an heretical bishop by a conference; and extirpated a certain infamous heresy in the valley Pontia; converted the country into which the murderers of St. Peter, the martyr, had fled; had reconciled the Guelphs and Gibelins, and settled a general peace in Lombardy. Being called back into Piedmont by the bishops and lords of that country, he staid five months in   the diocess of Aoust, Tarentaise, St. John of Morienne, and Grenoble. He says he was then at Geneva, where he had abolished a very inveterate superstitious festival, a thing the bishop durst not attempt; and was going to Lausane, being called by the bishop to preach to many idolaters who adore the sun, and to heretics who were obstinate, daring, and very numerous on the frontiers of Germany. Thus in his letter. Spondanus, 3 and many others say, the saint was honoured with the gift of tongues, and that, preaching in his own, he was understood by men of different languages; which is also affirmed by Lanzano, who says, that Greeks, Germans, Sardes, Hungarians, and people of other nations, declared they understood every word he spoke, though he preached in Latin, or in his mother-tongue, as spoken at Valentia. 4 Peter de Luna, called Benedict XIII., sent for him out of Lorrain to Genoa, promising to lay aside all claim to the papacy. The saint obeyed, and represented to him the evils of the schism, which would be all laid to his charge; but he spoke to one that was deaf to such counsels. He preached with more success to the people of Genoa for a month, and travelled again through France and Flanders, and from thence, in 1406, over all the dominions of Henry IV., king of England. The years 1407 and 1408, he employed in reforming the manners of the people of Poitou, Gascony, Languedoc, Provence, and Auvergne: at Clermont is still shown the pulpit in which he preached in 1407. An inscription in a church at Nevers testifies the same of that city: he was again at Aix in October, 1408. Benedict XIII., being returned from Genoa, stopped at Marseilles, and came no more to Avignon, but in 1408 went to Perpignan. In the same year the Mahometan king of the Moors, at Granada in Spain, hearing the reputation of St. Vincent, invited him to his court.—The saint took shipping at Marseilles, and preached to the Mahometans the gospel with great success at Granada, and converted many; till some of the nobles, fearing the total subversion of their religion, obliged the king to dismiss him. He then laboured in the kingdom of Arragon, and again in Catalonia, especially in the diocess of Gironne and Vich; in a borough of the latter he renewed the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, related at length in his life. 5 At Barcelona, in 1409, he foretold to Martin, king of Arragon, the death of his son Martin, the king of Sicily, who was snatched away amidst his triumphs in the month of July. Vincent comforted the afflicted father, and persuaded him to a second marriage to secure the public peace by an heir to his crown.

He cured innumerable sick everywhere, and at Valentia made a dumb woman speak, but told her she should ever after remain dumb, and that this was for the good of her soul; charging her always to praise and thank God in spirit, to which instructions she promised obedience. He converted the Jews in great numbers in the diocess of Palencia, in the kingdom of Leon, as Mariana relates. He was invited to Pisa, Sienna, Florence, and Lucca, in 1410, whence, after having reconciled the dissensions that prevailed in those parts, he was recalled by John II., king of Castille. In 1411 he visited the kingdoms of Castille, Leon, Murcia, Andalusia, Asturias, and other countries; in all which places the power of God was manifested in his enabling him to work miracles, and effect the conversion of an incredible number of Jews and sinners. The Jews of Toledo embracing the faith, changed their synagogue into a church under the name of Our Lady’s. From Valladolid, the saint went to Salamanca, in the beginning of the year 1412, where meeting the corpse of a man who had been murdered, and was carrying on a bier, he, in the presence of a great multitude, commanded the deceased to arise, when the dead man instantly revived; for a monument of which a wooden cross was erected, and is yet to be seen on the spot. In the same city the saint entered the Jewish synagogue with a cross in his hand, and, replenished with the Holy Ghost, made so moving a sermon, that the Jews, who were at first surprised, at the end of his discourse all desired baptism, and changed their synagogue into a church, to which they gave the title of the Holy Cross. But St. Vincent was called away to settle the disputes which had for two years disturbed the tranquillity of the kingdom of Arragon, concerning a successor to the crown. The states of Arragon, Catalonia, and Valentia were divided. The most powerful among the Catalonians were for choosing count Urgel, but the bishop of Saragossa, who opposed his election, being murdered, so impious and inhuman a crime occasioned a general detestation of that candidate, destroyed his interest, and was an alarm to a civil war. At last the states of the three kingdoms agreed to choose nine commissaries, three for each kingdom, who were to assemble in the castle of Caspé in Arragon, on the river Ebro, to decide the contest, which was to be determined by the concurrence of not less than six of the commissaries appointed for this purpose. St. Vincent, his brother, Boniface the Carthusian, and Don Peter Bertrand were the three commissaries for the kingdom of Valentia. The saint therefore left Castille to repair to Caspé. Ferdinand of Castillo was declared the next heir in blood, and lawful king by the unanimous consent of the commissaries. Saint Vincent on that occasion made an harangue to the foreign ambassadors and people present, and when he had named Ferdinand king, a prince highly esteemed for his valour, virtue, and moderation, the acclamations of all present testified their approbation. Ferdinand hastened to Saragossa, and was proclaimed on the 3rd of September, 1412. He made the saint his preacher and confessor; yet the holy man continued his usual labours throughout Spain and the adjacent isles, and seemed to take more pleasure in teaching an ignorant shepherd on the mountains, than in preaching to the court. After having long endeavoured to move Peter de Luna to resign his pretensions to the papacy, but finding him obstinate, he advised king Ferdinand to renounce his obedience, in case he refused to acknowledge the council of Constance; which that prince did by a solemn edict, dated the 6th of January, in 1416, by the advice of the saint, as Oderic Raynold, Mariana, and Spondanus most accurately relate. 6 The saint laboured zealously to bring all Spain to this union, and was sent by king Ferdinand to assist at the council of Constance. He preached through Spain, Languedoc, and Burgundy, in his way thither. The fathers of the council pressed his arrival, and deputed Hannibaldi, cardinal of St. Angelus, to consult him at Dijon, in 1417. Gerson wrote to him also an earnest letter expressing a high esteem of his person. 7 But it does not appear that St. Vincent ever arrived at Constance, notwithstanding Dupin and some others think he did. The saint’s occupations made him leave few writings to posterity. The chief of his works now extant, are, A Treatise on a Spiritual Life, or On the Interior Man, A Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer, A Consolation under Temptations, Against Faith, and Seven Epistles. 8

St. Vincent having laboured some time in Burgundy went from Dijon to Bourges, where he continued his apostolical functions with equal zeal. In that city he received pressing letters from John V. duke of Brittany, inviting him to visit his dominions. The saint, convinced it was a call from God, passed by Tours, Angers, and Nantz, in his way thither, being every where received as an angel from heaven, and in all places curing the sick, and converting sinners. The duke resided at Vannes: in which city the saint was received by the clergy, nobility, and people in bodies, and the sovereign thought no honours sufficient to testify his esteem of his merits. St. Vincent preached there from the fourth Sunday of Lent till Easter Tuesday, of the year 1417; and foretold the duchess that the child she then bore in her womb would one day be duke of Brittany, which came to pass, for the eldest son then alive died without issue. All the diocesses, towns, and countries of Brittany heard this apostle with great fruit, and were witnesses of his miracles. His age and infirmities were far from abating anything of his zeal and labours; he rooted out vices, superstitions, and all manner of abuses, and had the satisfaction to see a general reformation of manners, throughout the whole province. Out of Brittany he wrote letters into Castille, by which he engaged the bishops, nobility, and Don Alphonsus, regent of that kingdom for King John the Second, yet a minor, to renounce Peter de Luna as an anti-pope, and acknowledge the Council of Constance, to which they accordingly sent ambassadors, who were received with joy at Constance, on the 3rd of April, 1417. Pope Martin V. elected by the council in November, wrote to the saint, and deputed to him Montanus, an eminent theologian, confirming all his missionary faculties and authority. Henry V. king of England, being then at Caen in Normandy, entreated the saint to extend his zeal to that province. He did so; and Normandy and Brittany were the theatre of the apostle’s labours the two last years of his life. He was then sixty years old, and so worn out and weak that he was scarcely able to walk a step without help; yet no sooner was he in the pulpit, but he spoke with as much strength, ardour, eloquence, and unction, as he had done in the vigour of his youth. He restored to health on the spot one that had been bed-ridden eighteen years, in the presence of a great multitude, and wrought innumerable other miracles; amongst which we may reckon as the greatest the conversions of an incredible number of souls. He inculcated everywhere a detestation of law-suits, swearing, lying, and other sins, especially of blasphemy.

Falling at last into a perfect decay, his companions persuaded him to return to his own country. Accordingly he set out with that view, riding on an ass, as was his ordinary manner of travelling in long journeys. But after they were gone, as they imagined, a considerable distance, they found themselves again near the city of Vannes. Wherefore the saint perceiving his illness increase, determined to return into the town, saying to his companions, that God had chosen that city for the place of his burial. The joy of the city was incredible when he appeared again, but it was allayed when he told them he was come not to continue his ministry among them, but to look for his grave. These words, joined with a short exhortation which he made to impress on the people’s minds their duty to God, made many to shed tears, and threw all into an excess of grief. His fever increasing, he prepared himself for death by exercises of piety, and devoutly receiving the sacraments. On the third day the bishop, clergy, magistrates, and part of the nobility, made him a visit. He conjured them to maintain zealously what he had laboured to establish amongst them, exhorted them to perseverance in virtue, and promised to pray for them, when he should be before the throne of God, saying he should go to the Lord after ten days. During that interval, under the pains of his distemper, he never opened his mouth about his sufferings only to thank Almighty God for making him, by a share in the cross, to resemble his crucified Son: for he suffered the sharpest agonies not only with resignation and patience, but with exultation and joy. His prayer and union with God he never interrupted. The magistrates sent a deputation to him, desiring he would choose the place of his burial. They were afraid his Order, which had then no convent in Vannes, would deprive the city of his remains. The saint answered, that being an unprofitable servant, and a poor religious man, it did not become him to direct anything concerning his burial; however, he begged they would preserve peace after his death as he had always inculcated to them in his sermons, and that they would be pleased to allow the prior of the convent of his Order, which was the nearest to that town, to have the disposal of the place of his burial. He continued his aspirations of love, contrition, and penance; and often wished the departure of his soul from its fleshy prison, that it might the more speedily be swallowed up in the ocean of all good. On the tenth day of his illness, he caused the passion of our Saviour to be read to him, and after that recited the penitential psalms, often stopping totally absorpt in God. It was on Wednesday in Passion-Week, the 5th of April, that he slept in the Lord, in the year 1419, having lived, according to the most exact computation, sixty-two years, two months, and thirteen days. Joan of France, daughter of King Charles VI. duchess of Brittany, washed his corpse with her own hands. God showed innumerable miracles by that water and by the saint’s habit, girdle, instruments of   penance, and other relics, of which the detail may be read in the Bollandists. The duke and bishop appointed the cathedral for the place of his burial. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III. in 1455. But the bull was only published in 1458, by Pope Pius II. His relics were taken up in 1456. The Spaniards solicited to have them translated to Valentia, and at last resolved to steal them, thinking them their own property, to prevent which the canons hid the shrine in 1590. It was found again in 1637, and a second translation was made on the 6th of September, when the shrine was placed on the altar of a new chapel in the same cathedral, where it is still exposed to veneration.

  The great humility of this saint appeared amidst the honours and applause which followed him. He wrote thus, from the sincere sentiments of his heart, in his Treatise on a Spiritual Life, c. 16: “My whole life is nothing but stench: I am all infection both in soul and body: everything in me exhales a smell of corruption, caused by the abominations of my sins and injustices: and what is worse, I feel this stench increasing daily in me, and renewed always more insupportably.” He lays down this principle as the preliminary to all virtue, that a person be deeply grounded in humility. “For whosoever will proudly dispute or contradict, will always stand without the door. Christ, the master of humility, manifests his truth only to the humble, and hides himself from the proud,” c. 1, p. 70. He reduces the rules of perfection to the avoiding three things: First, the exterior distraction of superfluous employs. Secondly, all interior secret elation of heart. Thirdly, all immoderate   attachment to created things. Also to the practising of three things: First, the sincere desire of contempt and abjection. Secondly, the most affective devotion to Christ crucified. Thirdly, patience in bearing all things for the love of Christ, c. ult.

Note 1. During the grand schism in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, those countries which acknowledged each pope were called his Obedience. 

Note 2. Luke x. 2

Note 3. Spondan. ad an. 1403. 

Note 4. Baillet says he preached in French, Spanish, and Italian, and where these languages were not understood, in Latin; but alters his authors to suppress the miracle.

Note 5. Bolland, p. 501. n. 23. 

Note 6. Their authority renders the mistake of Fleury’s continuator inexcusable, who pretends that the saint only acted in compliance with the king’s inclination. 

Note 7. Gerson, t. 2. p. 658. ed. nov. 

Note 8. The sermons printed in three volumes under his name, cannot be his work, as Dupin and Lappe observe; for his name is quoted in them, and they answer in nothing the character and spirit of this great man. Perhaps they were written by some one who had heard him and his companions preach. There is also a treatise on the End of the World, and on Antichrist, under his name. Some reprehended him for affirming the end of the world to be at hand; but he meant no more than the apostles and fathers by the like expressions; for the duration of this world is short in reality, and in public calamities we have signs which continually put us in mind of its final dissolution, and might be well employed by this saint to move the people with a more lively faith to fear that terrible day. But only God knows the time; and the fifth general council of Lateran forbids any preachers on any conjectures whatsoever to pretend to foretel or determine it, (Con. t. 14, p. 240,) though the time of God’s judgment is certainly near to every one by death. Some also found fault with the troops of penitents who followed Vincent with disciplines. But they were sincere penitents, in whom appeared the true spirit of compunction; very opposite to the fanatical heretics of Germany called Flagellantes, who placed penance entirely in that exterior grimace of disciplining or flagellation, teaching that it supplied the salutary purposes of the sacraments: not to mention other abuses which Gerson discreetly censures, t. 2. ed. nov. p. 660. 

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.



Vincent Ferrer, OP Priest (RM)

Born in Valencia, Spain, January 23, c. 1350; died in Vannes, Brittany, France, April 5, 1418; canonized in 1455 by Pope Callistus III; formal bull issued in 1458 by Pius II authorizing his feast on April 6, but it has always been celebrated on April 5.



"Whatever you do, think not of yourselves but of God."

--Saint Vincent Ferrer.

Born into a noble, pious family headed by the Englishman William Ferrer and the Spanish woman Constantia Miguel, Saint Vincent's career of miracle-working began early. Prodigies attended his birth and baptism on the same day at Valencia, and, at age 5, he cured a neighbor child of a serious illness. These gifts and his natural beauty of person and character made him the center of attention very early in life.

His parents instilled into Vincent an intense devotion to our Lord and His Mother and a great love of the poor. He fasted regularly each Wednesday and Friday on bread and water from early childhood, abstained from meat, and learned to deny himself extravagances in order to provide alms for necessities. When his parents saw that Vincent looked upon the poor as the members of Christ and that he treated them with the greatest affection and charity, they made him the dispenser of their bountiful alms. They gave him for his portion a third part of their possessions, all of which he distributed among the poor in four days.

Vincent began his classical studies at the age of 8, philosophy at 12, and his theological studies at age 14. As everyone expected, he entered the Dominican priory of Valencia and received the habit on February 5, 1367. So angelic was his appearance and so holy his actions, that no other course seemed possible to him than to dedicate his life to God.

No sooner had he made his choice of vocation than the devil attacked him with the most dreadful temptations. Even his parents, who had encouraged his vocation, pleaded with him to leave the monastery and become a secular priest. By prayer and faith, especially prayer to Our Lady and his guardian angel, Vincent triumphed over his difficulties and finished his novitiate.

He was sent to Barcelona to study and was appointed reader in philosophy at Lerida, the most famous university in Catalonia, before he was 21. While there he published two treatises (Dialectic suppositions was one) that were well received.

In 1373, he was sent to Barcelona to preach, despite the fact that he held only deacon's orders. The city, laid low by a famine, was desperately awaiting overdue shipments of corn. Vincent foretold in a sermon that the ships would come before night, and although he was rebuked by his superior for making such a prediction, the ships arrived that day. The joyful people rushed to the priory to acclaim Vincent a prophet. The prior, however, thought it would be wise to transfer him away from such adulation.

Another story tells us that some street urchins drew his attention to one of their gang who was stretched out in the dust, pretending to be dead, near the port of Grao: "He's dead, bring him back to life!" they cried.

"Ah," replied Vincent, "he was playing dead but the, look, he did die." This is how one definitely nails a lie: by regarding it as a truth. And it turned out to be true, the boy was quite dead. Everyone was gripped with fear. They implored Vincent to do something. God did. He raised him up.

In 1376, Vincent was transferred to Toulouse for a year, and continued his education. Having made a particular study of Scripture and Hebrew, Vincent was well-equipped to preach to the Jews. He was ordained a priest at Barcelona in 1379, and became a member of Pedro (Peter) Cardinal de Luna's court--the beginning of a long friendship that was to end in grief for both of them. (Cardinal de Luna had voted for Pope Urban VI in 1378, but convinced that the election had been invalid, joined a group of cardinals who elected Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII later in the same year; thus, creating a schism and the line of Avignon popes.)

After being recalled to his own country, Vincent preached very successfully at the cathedral in Valencia from 1385-1390, and became famed for his eloquence and effectiveness at converting Jews--Rabbi Paul of Burgos, the future bishop of Cartagena was one of Vincent's 30,000 Jewish and Moorish converts--and reviving the faith of those who had lapsed. His numerous miracles, the strength and beauty of his voice, the purity and clarity of his doctrine, combined to make his preaching effective, based as it was on a firm foundation of prayer.

Of course, Vincent's success as a preacher drew the envy of others and earned him slander and calumny. His colleagues believed that they could make amends for the calumny by making him prior of their monastery in Valencia. He did withdraw for a time into obscurity. But he was recalled to preach the Lenten sermons of 1381 in Valencia, and he could not refuse to employ the gift of speech which drew to him the good and simple people as well as the captious pastors, the canons, and the skeptical savants of the Church.

Peter de Luna, a stubborn and ambitious cardinal, made Vincent part of his baggage, so to speak; because from 1390 on, Vincent preached wherever Peter de Luna happened to be, including the court of Avignon, where Vincent enjoyed the advantage of being confessor to the pope, when Peter de Luna became the antipope Benedict XIII in 1394.

Two evils cried out for remedy in Saint Vincent's day: the moral laxity left by the great plague, and the scandal of the papal schism. In regard to the first, he preached tirelessly against the evils of the time. That he espoused the cause of the wrong man in the papal disagreement is no argument against Vincent's sanctity; at the time, and in the midst of such confusion, it was almost impossible to tell who was right and who was wrong. The memorable thing is that he labored, with all the strength he could muster, to bring order out of chaos. Eventually, Vincent came to believe that his friend's claims were false and urged de Luna to reconcile himself to Urban VI.

He acted as confessor to Queen Yolanda of Aragon from 1391 to 1395. He was accused to the Inquisition of heresy because he taught that Judas had performed penance, but the charge was dismissed by the antipope Benedict XIII, who burned the Inquisition's dossier on Vincent and made him his confessor.

Benedict offered Vincent a bishopric, but refused it. Distressed by the great schism and by Benedict's unyielding position, he advised him to confer with his Roman rival. Benedict refused. Reluctantly, Vincent was obliged to abandon de Luna in 1398. The strain of this conflict between friendship and truth caused Vincent to become dangerously ill in 1398. During his illness, he experienced a vision in which Christ and Saints Dominic and Francis instructed him to preach penance whenever and wherever he was needed, and he was miraculously cured.

After recovering, he pleaded to be allowed to devote himself to missionary work. He preached in Carpetras, Arles, Aix, and Marseilles, with huge crowds in attendance. Between 1401 and 1403, the saint was preaching in the Dauphiné, in Savoy, and in the Alpine valleys: he continued on to Lucerne, Lausanne, Tarentaise, Grenoble, and Turin. He was such an effective speaker that, although he spoke only Spanish, he was thought by many to be multilingual (the gift of tongues?). His brother Boniface was the prior of the Grande Chartreuse, and as a result of Vincent's preaching, several notable subjects entered the monastery.

Miracles were attributed to him. In 1405, Vincent was in Genoa and preached against the fantastic head-dresses worn by the Ligurian ladies, and they were modified--"the greatest of all his marvelous deeds, reports one of his biographers. From Genoa, he caught a ship to Flanders. Later, in the Netherlands, an hour each day was scheduled for his cures. In Catalonia, his prayer restored the withered limbs of a crippled boy, deemed incurable by his physicians, named John Soler, who later became the bishop of Barcelona. In Salamanca in 1412, he raised a dead man to life. Perhaps the greatest miracle occurred in the Dauphiné, in an area called Vaupute, or Valley of Corruption. The natives there were so savage that no minister would visit them. Vincent, ever ready to suffer all things to gain souls, joyfully risked his life among these abandoned wretches, converted them all from their errors and vices. Thereafter, the name of the valley was changed to Valpure, or Valley of Purity, a name that it has retained.

He preached indefatigably, supplementing his natural gifts with the supernatural power of God, obtained through his fasting, prayers, and penance. Such was the fame of Vincent's missions, that King Henry IV of England sent a courtier to him with a letter entreating him to preach in his dominions. The king sent one of his own ships to fetch him from the coast of France, and received him with the greatest honors. The saint having employed some time in giving the king wholesome advice both for himself and his subjects, preached in the chief towns of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Returning to France, he did the same, from Gascony to Picardy.

The preaching of Saint Vincent became a strange but marvelously effective process. He attracted to himself hundreds of people--at one time, more than 10,000--who followed him from place to place in the garb of pilgrims. The priests of the company sang Mass daily, chanted the Divine Office, and dispensed the sacraments to those converted by Vincent's preaching. Men and women travelled in separate companies, chanting litanies and prayers as they went barefoot along the road from city to city. They taught catechism where needed, founded hospitals, and revived a faith that had all but perished in the time of the plague.

The message of his preaching was penance, the Last Judgment, and eternity. Like another John the Baptist--who was also likened to an angel, as Saint Vincent is in popular art--he went through the wilderness crying out to the people to make straight the paths of the Lord. Fearing the judgment, if for no other reason, sinners listened to his startling sermons, and the most obstinate were led by him to cast off sin and love God. He worked countless miracles, some of which are remembered today in the proverbs of Spain. Among his converts were Saint Bernardine of Siena and Margaret of Savoy.
He returned to Spain in 1407. Despite the fact that Granada was under Moorish rule, he preached successfully, and thousands of Jews and Moors were said to have been converted and requested baptism. His sermons were often held in the open air because the churches were too small for all those who wished to hear him.

In 1414 the Council of Constance attempted the end the Great Schism, which had grown since 1409 with three claimants to the papal throne. The council deposed John XXIII, and demanded the resignation of Benedict XIII and Gregory XII so that a new election could be held. Gregory was willing, but Benedict was stubborn. Again, Vincent tried to persuade Benedict to abdicate. Again, he failed. But Vincent, who acted as a judge in the Compromise of Caspe to resolve the royal succession, influenced the election of Ferdinand as king of Castile. Still a friend of Benedict (Peter de Luna), King Ferdinand, basing his actions on Vincent's opinion on the issue, engineered Benedict's deposition in 1416, which ended the Western Schism.

(It is interesting to note that the edicts of the Council of Constance were thrown out by the succeeding pope. The council had mandated councils every ten years and claimed that such convocations had precedence over the pope.)

His book, Treatise on the Spiritual Life is still of value to earnest souls. In it he writes: "Do you desire to study to your advantage? Let devotion accompany all your studies, and study less to make yourself learned than to become a saint. Consult God more than your books, and ask him, with humility, to make you understand what you read. Study fatigues and drains the mind and heart. Go from time to time to refresh them at the feet of Jesus Christ under his cross. Some moments of repose in his sacred wounds give fresh vigor and new lights. Interrupt your application by short, but fervent and ejaculatory prayers: never begin or end your study but by prayer. Science is a gift of the Father of lights; do not therefore consider it as barely the work of your own mind or industry."

It seems that Vincent practiced what he preached. He always composed his sermons at the foot of a crucifix, both to beg light from Christ crucified, and to draw from that object sentiments with which to animate his listeners to penance and the love of God.

Saint Vincent also preached to Saint Colette and her nuns, and it was she who told him that he would die in France. Indeed, Vincent spent his last three years in France, mainly in Normandy and Brittany, and he died on the Wednesday of Holy Week in Vannes, Brittany, after returning from a preaching trip to Nantes. The day of his burial was a great popular feast with a procession, music, sermons, songs, miracles, and even minor brawls (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gheon, Husenbeth, Walsh, White).

Note: I highly recommend reading the entry for Vincent Ferrer in Butler's Lives of the Saints. It's more accurate than many of his biographies and much more detailed about the saints travels and miracles than presented here.

Saint Vincent is the patron of orphanages in Spain. And Breton fishermen still invoke his aid in storms (Dorcy). He is also the patron of lead founders and invoked against epilepsy, fever, and headache (Roeder).

In art, Saint Vincent is a Dominican with a book, Christ is above with the Instruments of His Passion. Sometimes Vincent is shown (1) pointing to Christ, with a lily and crucifix; (2) ditto, Christ above, shrouded corpses under his feet; (3) surrounded by cherubim, flame in one hand, book in the other; (4) with symbolic wings on his shoulder, trumpet in his hand; (5) with flame, IHS and a radiant face; (6) with Blessed Peter Cerdan (Roeder, Tabor); (7) with a cardinal's hat; or with Jewish and Saracen converts around him (White). Click here to view a picture of Saint Vincent created by Francesco del Cossa.

SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0405.shtml

San Vincenzo Ferrer Sacerdote


- Memoria Facoltativa

Valencia (Spagna), 1350 - Vannes (Bretagna, Francia), 1419

«Da trent'anni il mastro Vincenzo va da una città all'altra, da un paese all'altro attraverso tutta l'Europa, montato su un semplice somarello, in inverno come in estate, il bell'abito dei domenicani lungo fino a terra a coprire i suoi piedi nudi. Come Gesù è seguito da una folla immensa di poveri, di donne, di bambini, di chierici, di contadini, di teologi, di duchi e di duchesse, tutti mescolati» ("Le meraviglie di Dio", Mondadori 2000). Nato a Valencia intorno al 1350, Vincenzo si trovò a vivere al tempo del grande scisma d'Occidente, quando i papi erano 2 e poi addirittura 3. E, suo malgrado, egli si trova al centro della divisione che minaccia il vertice della Chiesa. Ancora giovane domenicano, era stato notato da Pietro de Luna, legato del papa avignonese. Seguendo da vicino il cardinale, si rese però conto che la Chiesa aveva più che mai bisogno del ripristino dell'unità e della riforma morale. Incominciò allora la sua attività di predicazione. Nel 1394 il suo protettore, il cardinale de Luna, divenuto papa con il nome di Benedetto XIII, lo nomina suo confessore, cappellano domestico, penitenziere apostolico. Egli intensifica la sua attività ma nel 1398 si ammala e ha una visione nella quale gli appare il Salvatore accompagnato da san Domenico e san Francesco. Il Signore tocca la guancia del malato e gli ordina di mettersi in viaggio e conquistare molte anime. Vincenzo lascia allora Avignone ed intraprende vere e proprie campagne di predicazione in Spagna, Svizzera e Francia, in cui parla dell'Anticristo e del giudizio finale. Contribuisce così in modo decisivo alla fine dello scisma e al miglioramento dei costumi. Morì a Vannes nel 1419.

Patronato: Costruttori

Etimologia: Vincenzo = vittorioso, dal latino

Emblema: Globo di fuoco, Stella

Martirologio Romano: San Vincenzo Ferrer, sacerdote dell’Ordine dei Predicatori, che, spagnolo di nascita, fu instancabile viaggiatore tra le città e le strade dell’Occidente, sollecito per la pace e l’unità della Chiesa; a innumerevoli popoli predicò il Vangelo della penitenza e l’avvento del Signore, finché a Vannes in Bretagna, in Francia rese lo spirito a Dio.

Due mesi dopo il suo ritorno definitivo da Avignone a Roma, papa Gregorio XI muore nel marzo 1378. E nell’Urbe tumultuante ("Vogliamo un papa romano, o almeno italiano"), i cardinali, in maggioranza francesi, eleggono il napoletano Bartolomeo Prignano (Urbano VI). Ma questi si scontra subito con i suoi elettori, e la crisi porta a un controconclave in settembre, nel quale gli stessi cardinali fanno Papa un altro: Roberto di Ginevra (Clemente VII) che tornerà ad Avignone. Così comincia lo scisma d’Occidente, che durerà 39 anni. La Chiesa è spaccata, i regni d’Europa stanno chi con Urbano e chi con Clemente. Sono divisi anche i futuri santi: Caterina da Siena (che ha scritto ai cardinali: "Oh, come siete matti!") è col Papa di Roma. E l’aragonese Vincenzo Ferrer (chiamato anche Ferreri in Italia) sta con quello di Avignone, al quale ha aderito il suo re. 

Vincenzo è un dotto frate domenicano, insegnante di teologia e filosofia a Lérida e a Valencia, autore poi di un trattato di vita spirituale ammiratissimo nel suo Ordine. Nei primi anni dello scisma lo vediamo collaboratore del cardinale aragonese Pedro de Luna, che è il braccio destro del Papa di Avignone, e che addirittura nel 1394 gli succede, diventando Benedetto XIII, vero Papa per gli uni, antipapa per gli altri. E si prende anche come confessore Vincenzo Ferrer, che diventa uno dei più autorevoli personaggi del mondo avignonese. Autorevole, ma sempre più inquieto, per la divisione della Chiesa. A un certo punto ci si trova con tre Papi, ai quali il Concilio riunito a Costanza, in Germania, dal novembre 1414, chiede di dimettersi tutti insieme, aprendo la via all’elezione del Papa unico. Ma uno dei tre resta irremovibile: Benedetto XIII, appunto. Allora, dopo tante esortazioni e preghiere inascoltate, viene per Vincenzo la prova più dura: annunciare a quell’uomo irriducibile, che pure gli è amico: "Il regno d’Aragona non ti riconosce più come Papa". Doloroso momento per lui, passo importante per la riunificazione, che avverrà nel 1417. 

E’ uno dei restauratori dell’unità, ma non solo dai vertici.
Anzi, Spagna, Savoia, Delfinato, Bretagna, Piemonte lo ricorderanno a lungo come vigoroso predicatore in chiese e piazze. Mentre le gerarchie si combattevano, lui manteneva l’unità tra i fedeli. Vent’anni di predicazione, milioni di ascoltatori raggiunti dalla sua parola viva, che mescolava il sermone alla battuta, l’invettiva contro la rapacità laica ed ecclesiastica e l’aneddoto divertente, la descrizione di usanze singolari conosciute nel suo viaggiare... E non mancavano, nelle prediche sul Giudizio Universale, i tremendi annunci di castighi, con momenti di fortissima tensione emotiva. Andò camminando e predicando così per una ventina d’anni, e la morte non poteva che coglierlo in viaggio: a Vannes, in Bretagna. Fu proclamato santo nel 1458 da papa Callisto III, suo compatriota.

La sua data di culto è il 5 aprile, mentre l'Ordine Domenicano lo ricorda il 5 maggio.

Autore:
Domenico Agasso



Saint Vincent Ferrier - Traité de la Vie spirituelle :