St. Vincent Ferrer

His Life

Saint Vincent Ferrer (Valencian: Saint Vincent Ferrer; 23 January 1350 ? 5 April 1419) was a Valencian Dominican missionary and logician. Vincent was the fourth child of the Anglo-Scottish nobleman William Stewart Ferrer (William being the younger of two brothers descended from the English Ferrer family and the Stewarts of Scotland) and his Spanish wife, Constantia Miguel. His birth was a supernatural one. His father, William Stewart Ferrer, was told in a dream by a Dominican friar that his son would be famous throughout the world. His mother never experienced pain when she gave birth to him. He would fast on Wednesdays and Fridays and he loved the Passion of Christ very much. He would help the poor and distribute many alms to them. Vincent decided to join the Dominicans when his father gave him a choice whether to enter into secular, ecclesiastical, or a religious state.

Ferrer entered the Dominican Order at the age of eighteen and studied philosophy and theology. He prayed and practice penance. For a period of three years, he read the Sacred Scriptures without any interruption to read any other book and he memorized the Bible. He published a treatise on Dialectic Suppositions after his solemn profession. He eventually became a Master of Sacred Theology and was commissioned to deliver lectures on philosophy. He was then sent to Barcelona and eventually to the University of Lleida, where he earned his doctorate in theology.

Vincent later claimed that the Great Schism had such a depressing effect on his mind that it caused to be seriously ill at the age of forty. He claimed that God healed him and instructed him to go out and convert many. For twenty-one years he was said to have traveled to Aragon, Castile, Switzerland, France, Italy, England, Ireland, and Scotland, preaching the Gospel and converting many. Many biographers believe that he was endowed with the gift of tongues, as he could speak only Catalan. Vincent is also said to be responsible for converting many Jews to Catholicism. One of his converts, a former rabbi by the name of Solomon ha-Levi, went on to become Bishop of Cartagena and later Archbishop of Burgos.
Vincent intervened during a political crisis in his homeland, which resulted in the Compromise of Caspe, by which the Crown of Aragon was given to a Castilian prince, Ferdinand of Antequera.

According to two sources Vincent was very loyal to the Avignonese Pope Benedict XIII, better known as "Papa Luna" in Castile and Aragon, remained in steadfast loyalty to him, and believed that Benedict XIII was the true Pope. According to another source, Vincent labored to have Benedict XIII end the schism, and after an extended period of receiving empty promises, Vincent encouraged King Ferdinand of Castile to withdraw his support from Benedict XIII.

Sources are also contradicting of Vincent's achievement in converting a synagogue in Toledo, Spain into the church of Santa María la Blanca; one source says he preached to the mobs whose riots led to the appropriation of the synagogue and its transformation into a church in 1391; a second source says he converted the Jews of the city who changed the synagogue to a church after they embraced the Faith, but hints at the year 1411; a third source identifies two distinct incidents, one in Valencia in 1391 and one in Toledo at a later date, but says he put down an uprising against Jews in one place and diffused a persecution against them in the other.

Saint Vincent died on 5 April 1419 at Vannes in Brittany and was buried in Vannes Cathedral. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III on 3 June 1455. His feast day is celebrated on April 5. The Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer, a Pontifical religious institute, is named after him.