Even before his birth, this saint was stirring excitement in his parents. It is noted that during her pregnancy, his mother felt only joy and never experienced any pains or difficulties. His father also had a vivid dream that he was visited by an unknown Dominican preacher, who told him that the baby his wife was carrying was to become world renown. Also, his mother was visited by a blind woman who told her that the child she was carrying was an angel and that he would one day restore her sight to her- which he did many years later!
He was a very happy baby and a pious child who was eager to learn. He was full of passion for the Lord and to subdue his own worldly passions, he fasted every Wednesday and Friday during his childhood. He spent countless hours meditating and praying on Christ’s passion, and he held a great deal of love and devotion for the Blessed Mother. As a child he so loved the poor, that his parents allowed him to distribute alms out of their bountiful wealth. When he was eight he began his classical studies and by the time he was fourteen he was studying theology and philosophy.
When Vincent was nineteen he entered the Order of Preachers which was commonly called the Dominican Order. It was during these subsequent years that Vincent was overcome with temptations of every sort. Some have said that it was at this time that the devil really attacked this holy saint , trying to ruin him… trying to destroy his soul, which had always held such great love for the Lord. As a means to overcome his temptations, he undertook more severe means of penance. He became ever more watchful over any desire or temptation that sprang into his soul. Quickly abandoning any that separated him from the Lord. He would abstain from meat on all days except Sunday, he would only eat bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays and he slept on a few twigs or a couple of hand fulls of straw. Instead of giving in to these new temptations, he buckled down and threw himself upon the mercy of God and really devoted his whole being to serving God. It was during this time that he read nothing but the Bible, and within three years he had the entire Bible memorized.
He was a eloquent speaker and was responsible for the conversion of many souls to the faith. He traveled throughout the world preaching and working tirelessly for the Church…for the Lord. Though he remained faithful to the Lord, at times, he was caught up in controversy within the Church. When the ‘western schism’ befell the Church, he struggled to maintain his devotion to the True Church, but as a devoted follower of Benedict XIII, he struggled with his loyalty. Nonetheless, he labored tirelessly to have Benedict XIII end the schism. Then, when Benedict XIII failed to step down, and was excommunicated by the Church in 1417, this brought a great upheaval to Vincent’s soul, and he became depressed and ill because of it.
For the next twenty-one years he traveled extensively, preaching the Faith and converting thousands with his sermons. It is noted that he had the ‘gift of tongues’, because even though he only spoke one language, many who listened to him, understood his message and converted their hearts to the True Church and the Lord.
Vincent died on April 5th, in the year 1419, at the age of 69. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III on June III of 1455. In 1979, a pontifical religious institute was founded, and in honor of this great saint, took the name “The Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer.”
He was a gifted author as well and left the faithful an abundance of spiritual quotes to fill our hearts with points that we would be wise to meditate upon during this final stretch of Lenten days. Enjoy!
“Whatever you do, think not of yourself, but of God.”
“Once humility is acquired, charity will come to life – a burning flame devouring the corruption of vice and filling the heart so full that there is no place for vanity.”