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Great preacher and miracle worker who helped turn the Church around!

St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer
“The Angel of the Judgment”

“And I saw another angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the eternal gospel, to preach unto them that sit upon the earth, and over every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people: saying with a loud voice: Fear the Lord, and give him honour, because the hour of his judgment is come. . . ” —Apocalypse 14:6-7

PROFESSION. 1350–1368.
1. Prodigies which Preceded the Birth of
St. Vincent Ferrer—His Baptism—Infancy and
Childhood of St. Vincent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2. St. Vincent Ferrer Receives the Habit of the
Friar Preachers—His Novitiate
and Profession . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
3. Studies of St. Vincent Ferrer—His
Profound Learning—His Great Piety
during His Course of Studies and
Scholastic Labors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
4. First Preachings of St. Vincent Ferrer—
Continuation of the Saint’s Preaching
Until His Definitive Call to Avignon . . . . . . . . . . 32
5. Christ Miraculously Calls the Saint to an
Extraordinary Apostolate in the Church—
State of Christianity at the Epoch
when St. Vincent Received His
Divine Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
6. St. Vincent’s Mode of Life during His
Miraculous Apostolate—the Method
Employed by the Saint in Preaching . . . . . . . . . . 53
7. The Company which Followed
St. Vincent Ferrer in the Course of
His Miraculous Apostolate—Extraordinary Fruits
Produced by the Saint in Pious
Souls during that Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
8. The Universal Conversion which
the Miraculous Apostolate of St. Vincent
Ferrer Produced in the Church—
Its Abundant Fruits among Heretics
and Jews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
9. The Apostolic Success of St. Vincent Ferrer
among the Followers of Mohammed—
the Principal Countries and Cities in which the
Saint Preached in the Course of His
Miraculous Apostolate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
10. The Saint’s Last Apostolic Journeys in Brittany—
To the Council of Constance—In Normandy—
And again in Brittany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
11. The Virtues of St. Vincent Ferrer in Their
Relation to the Service of God—The
Saint’s Charity toward His Neighbor—
His Heroic Devotedness to the Temporal
Necessities of His Brethren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
12. Incomparable Zeal of St. Vincent Ferrer
for the Salvation of Souls—Other Virtues
of the Saint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
13. St. Vincent Ferrer Favored with a Multitude
of Visions, Revelations, and Ecstasies—The
Secrets of Hearts Revealed to the Saint . . . . . . 143
14. St. Vincent Ferrer Endowed with the
Gift of Prophecy—The Grace of Miracles
Accorded without Measure to the Saint . . . . . . 154
15. The Saint Dies at Vannes in Brittany—His
Burial—Canonization—His Relics . . . . . . . . . 169
16. Devotion Offered to St. Vincent Ferrer
by the People and by Holy Personages—
Extraordinary Favors with which the Saint
Rewarded the Devotion of His Clients . . . . . . 180
Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193

A description of the marvelous influence exercised by St. Vincent Ferrer on his age is not the principal design of the work which we offer to the public. In an admirable biography of this great man, the Abbé Bayle has traced out the most salient points in his character. Therefore, to reproduce in the following pages the picture which he has drawn would be foreign to our purpose. Our intention, then, is rather to initiate the pious public, and especially the Dominican family, into the intimate life and heroic virtues of the man of God, in order that they may imitate him, according to the degree of perfection to which each soul is divinely called. It would, indeed, be a strange illusion to imagine that there was much more to be admired than imitated in this remarkable life. We can, on the contrary, mold ourselves in many ways on this model, especially when it has reference to interior dispositions.

Father Teoli, a religious of our Order who lived in the last century and who wrote the most complete and accurate life of our Saint, has furnished us with the basis of our work. Following the example of this praiseworthy writer, we have not hesitated to relate certain traits well calculated to lead us to admire the stupendous and supreme power of working miracles which God sometimes accords to His Saints. It should be well borne in mind that the facts which we reveal rest on documents worthy of belief and respect, and that we address ourselves to pious readers. But this class admits the divine marvels the more readily in proportion as they who compose it are less carnal and more pure. We moreover willingly repeat, with Father Teoli, that in the facts here recorded, as well as in the title of Blessed which we have applied to certain personages whose veneration has not yet received the formal sanction of the Holy See, our intention is not to speak as though we had authority in the Church; we merely propose them with the guarantees of a purely human authority. May our publication be serviceable to you, dear reader! Should it produce any good in you, be pleased, in return, to remember us in your prayers to the Saint whom we shall have venerated together. And you will crown this charity which we hope for from you if you will join to it a particular intention in favor of some pious persons who have afforded us useful and friendly help in the accomplishment of this work.


Chapter 1

Prodigies which Preceded the Birth of St. Vincent Ferrer—Baptism, Infancy and Childhood of St. Vincent.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, there dwelt at Valencia, in Spain, a pious couple who were not less distinguished by birth than by the virtues which adorned their lives. These were William Ferrer, a descendant of an ancient Catalonian family, and Constance Miguel, the daughter of a naval officer and kinswoman of the Bishop of Valencia. They had already been blessed with two children when a third was born to them on the 23rd of January, in the year 1350. History affirms that certain remarkable signs preceded the birth of this child of benediction. One night while the father slept, he dreamed that he entered the church of the Dominicans at Valencia when one of that Order was preaching to the multitude from the pulpit and that the preacher, turning toward him, addressed him in these words: “I felicitate you, William. In a few days you will have a son who will become a prodigy of learning and sanctity. He will be the object of your delight and the honor of your house. The world will resound with the fame of his wondrous deeds; he will fill Heaven with joy and Hell with terror. He will put on the habit which I wear, and will be received in the Church with universal joy as one of its first Apostles.” Then it seemed to him that the people, who had attentively listened to what was said, thanked God with a loud voice for the marvelous news and offered him their felicitations likewise. Delighted at these consoling predictions, he joined his thanksgiving to that of the multitude. When he awoke, he related to his spouse all that had transpired in the course of his dream, and they resolved to confer with their kinsman, the Bishop.

To William’s account of what had occurred, Constance added two things equally singular which she had herself experienced. The first was the fact that from the commencement of her pregnancy, she had felt none of the pains which usually accompany that state; and the second, that she frequently fancied she had heard the child, who was near its birth, give utterance to cries that resembled the barking of a little dog—a circumstance much resembling the vision of Blessed Jane of Aza, the mother of St. Dominic. The prelate clearly understood the meaning of these mysterious signs and said to them: “Rejoice in the Lord; the child which you are about to bring into the world will be a worthy son of St. Dominic and will be called to do much good among the people by his preaching. Take great care of him and educate him holily, that he may correspond to the singular graces with which God will endow him.”

As if to confirm the high opinion which was conceived of this child, God was pleased to work, while it was still in the maternal womb, and by its mediation, a remarkable prodigy. Constance went one day to visit a blind woman on whom she was accustomed to bestow a monthly alms, and having given it to her as usual, she added, “My daughter, pray to God that the child which I bear may arrive safely.” The blind woman bent her head to the mother’s bosom and said, “May God bestow that favor on you!” At the same instant her material blindness left her, and being suddenly illuminated in her soul with prophetic light, she exclaimed, “Madam, it is an angel you have, and it is he who has cured me of my affliction.” The child, like another John the Baptist, applauded the words of the poor woman by leaping in the womb; the mother herself gave testimony of it. Such were the signs that preceded the birth of Vincent Ferrer.

This birth was an event for the whole city. The principal inhabitants made it a point of duty to accompany the newborn to the baptismal font. Besides a municipal deputation, three of the chief magistrates were present; and as they could not agree on the name that was to be given to this predestined child, the priest who administered the Sacrament was divinely inspired to name him Vincent, a name that was in every way adapted to his future destiny inasmuch as he would one day attack so vigorously, and conquer so gloriously, sin, the world, the flesh and the devil.

Constance was unwilling that her son should be committed to the care of a strange nurse. This child was too precious to allow anyone but herself to bestow on him the cares which tender infancy requires—cares which are doubtless wearisome, but nevertheless always sweet to a mother’s heart. She was amply rewarded for this devotedness on her part, for the little Saint gave her but small trouble. Seldom did he cry, and he would remain tranquil wherever his mother placed him. When not asleep in his cradle, he was peaceful and almost recollected. His open eyes would search eagerly for his mother, without being moistened with tears. Nature exhausted her gifts on his behalf. To a charming disposition with which she endowed him, he joined also a countenance that was so sweet, well-shaped and sympathetic that all delighted to gaze upon him and to caress him. An extraordinary event contributed not a little to increase his renown in the city. Vincent was yet in his cradle and had hardly begun to lisp, when Valencia was desolated by a continued drought.

Public prayers were offered up to obtain a refreshing rain, but not a cloud appeared in the sky. The whole population groaned under the calamity, and Constance shared the common affliction, when one day, expressing her uneasiness, she heard the child in swathing clothes distinctly pronounce these words: “If you wish for rain, carry me in procession, and you shall be favorably heard.” Cheered as well as surprised at these miraculous words, Constance hastened to the city magistrates to impart to them her message. The latter, considering on the one hand the probity and good sense of the mother, and on the other hand the marvelous signs which had already drawn public attention to the child, decreed that the procession thus indicated should take place. The little Vincent was carried triumphantly, and scarcely had the procession ended when the sky became suddenly overcast, and copious rains fell for several hours upon the parched earth. This and other miracles bore Vincent’s name to the court of the King of Aragon. Queen Eleanor, coming to Valencia, caused him to be taken to her palace that she might see him and caress him. In learning to speak, the child learned also how to pray and was instructed especially in the mysteries of faith. These instructions were imprinted on his soul as upon soft wax, but once they had taken root, they attained the solidity of bronze. There was no need to teach him twice the same lesson on religious matters. This sacred seed bore in his heart its salutary fruits. Penetrated with a sovereign fear of God and animated with a great desire for good, he carefully avoided everything that could, even in the smallest degree, tarnish his innocence.

From his fifth year, he showed an intelligence far above his age which inspired his companions and others with singular veneration for him. He began to study when only six years old, and his masters discovered in him a keen intelligence and a soul full of ardor, which enabled him in a short time to make rapid progress in the knowledge of grammar and letters. At the age of seven, Vincent entered the clerical state and was even provided with an ecclesiastical benefice. At twelve, his mind was so fully developed as to enable him to penetrate into the difficulties of philosophy, and he devoted two years to that abstract study. In fine, he commenced in his fourteenth year his theological course and applied himself to this latter science until the time when he began to think seriously of determining the state of life to which the voice of God called him. At this period of his life, the virtues of the youth had in no way slackened. Their growth, on the contrary, was visible, for grace is never weakened in a soul which faithfully responds to its advances.

It was his custom to assist daily at Mass, and his greatest delight was to serve the priest. His prayers were long and fervent. He had a tender devotion to Our Lord’s Passion. He said habitually the Little Office of the Cross, to which he added that of the Blessed Virgin. He fasted regularly on Wednesday and Friday every week. His tenderness for the poor led him into a thousand kinds of good works which charity suggested to him. But what we wish chiefly to remark in our Saint are the dispositions which he manifested from his earliest years for his future calling to the Apostolate. When yet a child, Vincent would commit to memory the leading points of the sermons at which he assisted and repeat them to his family around the domestic hearth. Frequently drawing his schoolfellows away from their games, he would gather them around him; then, mounting a hillock or fence, he would recite to them with earnestness, grace and unction whatever his recollection inspired him with, imitating the gestures and movements of the preachers whom he most admired. He continued the same practices as he grew up. Thus, during the years of his boyhood, he accomplished much good among the youth of his own age by speaking to them of God, of the soul and of Heaven. His example stamped on them a living impression. All looked upon him as a Saint, so much did the grace of miracles appear to increase with his years. Many attempted to imitate his virtues and to walk in his footsteps, whom he lovingly directed by his good counsels.

Taken from St. Vincent Ferrer by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.

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