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  • ID: I060083
  • Name: Vincent Ferrer , St.
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 23 JAN 1349/50 in Valencia, Spain
  • Death: 5 APR 1419 in Vannes, Brittany, France
  • Note:
    From The Catholic Encyclopedia...

    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 of Valencia, 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 to history, 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 Lerida; 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 the legitimacy 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 a rabbi, later well known as Bishop Paul of Burgos. At Salamanca Queen Yolanda of
    Aragon chose him for her confessor, 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 and Apostolic penitentiary.
    Notwithstanding the indifference of so many prelates in the papal Court, he laboured zealously
    among the people. He steadfastly refused the honours, including the cardinalate, which were
    offered to 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 of Christ 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 his apostolate, furnished
    with full powers of a legate a latere Christi. For twenty years he traversed western Europe,
    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 scandal touch this strange assemblage, which numbered at times 10,000. Genoa,
    Flanders, Northern France, all heard Vincent 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, a doctor 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 between Gregory 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 by Benedict 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 Vincent one of the judges to determine the succession to the Crown. At the judgment,
    known as the Compromise of Caspe, 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 strengthen Benedict'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 that Benedict 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 person sufficiently 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 of Gregory XII. Vincent did not go to the
    Council of Constance; he continued his apostolic journeys through France, 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 was canonized by Calixtus III at the Dominican Church
    of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome, 3 June, 1455.

    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, Proces 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
    freres precheurs (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).

    Transcribed by Thomas M. Barrett
    Dedicated to St. Vincent Ferrer; please intercede for us

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV
    Copyright 1912 by Robert Appleton Company
    Online Edition Copyright 1999 by Kevin Knight
    Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
    Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

    Father: William Ferrer b: ABT 1310
    Mother: Constantia Miguel

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