Feast Day: April 05.
A Spanish Dominican and zealous preacher, Vincent Ferrer lived in one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the Church. He entered the Dominican Order at the age of 15 and was ordained a priest in 1378. All his life he felt that he was called to carry the gospel not only to Christians but also the Jews and Muslims.
Vincent became a scholarly man and received a doctorate. He was well versed in philosophy, theology, and Sacred Scripture and had many mystical experiences. Vincent preached not only in Spain and France but also in Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands. He is reputed to have received the gift of tongues and was renowned as a healer. He had a great love for the poor and often shared what little he had with them.
Vincent’s great knowledge would soon be put to good use. During the Western (Papal) Schism of 1378-1417, three men claimed at the same time to be pope. Vincent began to preach the unity of the Church throughout Europe. Eloquent and passionate, he attracted huge crowds of believers and was soon esteemed across Christendom. He begged the anti-popes to resign in order to preserve this unity. This was no easy task. Anti-Pope Benedict XIII, who held court in Avignon, France, was counseled by Vincent to end the schism.
Additionally, Vincent advised King Castile of Spain to withdraw his support of the Avignon anti-pope, which ended the usurped reign of Benedict. The resignation of the authentic pope and the deposing of the two anti-popes paved the way for the election of the true successor to St. Peter, which would be Vincent’s greatest legacy.
Vincent feel gravely ill and nearly died, recovering miraculously after beholding a vision of Jesus Christ, St. Dominic, and St. Francis of Assisi. He eventually died at Vannes, France, while on a preaching mission in which he tried to put an end to the Hundred Years War between France and England.
“Each sinner in your congregation should feel moved as though you were preaching to him alone. Your words should sound as if they were coming, not from a proud or angry soul, but from a charitable and loving heart… This way of preaching has proven profitable to congregations, for an abstract discourse on the virtues and vices hardly inspires those who listen.” – Excerpt from Treatise on the Spiritual Life, St. Vincent Ferrer
Bunson, Matthew, Margaret Bunson, and Stephen Bunson. “Encyclopedia of Saints-Revised.” Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2003.
Lodi, Enzo. “Saints of the Roman Calendar-Updated and Revised Edition.” New York: Alba House, 2012.
Trigilio, Rev. John, Ph.D, Th.D, and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph.D. “Saints for Dummies.” Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, 2010.