Saint of the Day – 5 April – St Vincent Ferrer O.P. (1350-1419), called the “Angel of the Apocalypse/The Last Judgement” and the “The Mouthpiece of God.”- Dominican Priest, Missionary, Master of Sacred Theology, Philosopher, Teacher, Preacher, Logician, Apostle of Charity – born on 23 January 1350 in Valencia (part of modern Spain) and died on 5 April 1419 at Vannes, Brittany, France of natural causes. His remains are interred in the cathedral of Vannes. Patronages – Archdiocese of Valencia, Builders, Prisoners, Construction workers, Plumbers, Fishermen, Spanish orphanages, Calamonaci, Italy, Casteltermini, Agrigento, Italy, Leganes, Philippines, Orihuela-Alicante, Spain, diocese of. Attributes – Dominican habit, Tongue of flame, Pulpit, Trumpet, Wings, Bible.
St Vincent was born in Valencia, Spain. However, even in utero he was performing miracles. His mother visited a blind woman she often helped. The lady placed her head on the mother’s womb to hear the baby’s heart beat and was instantly healed of her blindness. The entire city was quite animated at his birth and their town square argument over his name had to be settled by the local bishop who recommended he share the name of the city’s patron saint (St Vincent of Zaragosa, a third century martyr, died 304). Before St Vincent was three months old, Valencia was struck by a terrible famine. The infant spoke in a perfectly intelligible manner to his mother, informing her that all the townspeople needed to carry a venerated statue in procession about the city to end the famine. No sooner had the procession begun than rain began to fall and the famine was broken.
From his tenderest years, it was clear that God was calling St Vincent to serve Him at His Altar. The boy was gifted with great intelligence and even more profound piety. When Vincent joined the Dominicans, he zealously practiced penance, study and prayer. He was a teacher of philosophy and a naturally gifted preacher called the “Mouthpiece of God.” His saintly life was what made his preaching so effective. Vincent’s subjects were judgement, heaven, hell and the need for repentance. Soon he was teaching and preaching all over Spain.
But at this time, three men claimed to be pope in the 1300s and 1400s. Kings, princes, priests and laypeople fought one another to support the different claimants for the Chair of Peter. This chaos led to the Western Schism and then God raised up Vincent Ferrer.
Even the holiest people can be misled. Pope Urban VI was the real pope and lived in Rome but Vincent and many others thought that Clement VII and his successor Benedict XIII, who lived in Avignon, France, were the true popes. Vincent convinced kings, princes, clergy and almost all of Spain to give loyalty to them. After Clement VII died, Vincent tried to get both Benedict and the pope in Rome to abdicate so that a new election could be held. Vincent returned to Benedict in Avignon and asked him to resign. Benedict refused.
Vincent came to see the error in Benedict’s claim to the papacy. Discouraged and ill, Vincent begged Christ to show him the truth. In a vision, he saw Jesus with Saint Dominic and Saint Francis, commanding him to “go through the world preaching Christ.” For the next twenty years he travelled to England, Scotland, Ireland, Aragon, Castile, France, Switzerland and Italy, preaching the Gospel and converting many. Many biographers believe that he could speak only Valencian but was endowed with the gift of tongues. St Vincent also had great success in preaching to the Moors and Jews. Countless converts came into the Church and on one single day he converted more than five thousand Jews. His spiritual success was even more fruitful among Catholics. Hatreds, envies, wars and other divisions were all brought to an abrupt end under his guidance. Once he raised a woman from the dead so that she could testify to all present that he was indeed the Angel of the Apocalypse (cf. Apco 14:6), sent by God to call a world seeped in sin to repentance. He preached to St Colette of Corbie and to her nuns and it was she who told him that he would die in France. Too ill to return home to Spain, he did, indeed, die in Brittany in 1419, at the age of sixty-nine. Breton fishermen still invoke his aid in storms. Vincent spread the Good News throughout Europe. He fasted, preached, worked miracles and drew many people to become faithful Christians.
One day while Benedict was presiding over an enormous assembly, Vincent, though close to death, mounted the pulpit and denounced him as the false pope. He encouraged everyone to be faithful to the one, true Catholic Church in Rome. Benedict fled, knowing his supporters had deserted him. The Great Western Schism was finally ended in 1417 when all the world universally acknowledged Martin V as rightful pope.
St Vincent was canonised by Pope Calixtus III on 3 June 1455.