A Christian Faith Magazine April 2003, Volume 8, Issue 9  
St. Vincent Ferrer: A Messenger of Penance
Matthew Kretzman
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From his early years on, St. Vincent Ferrer was a man of abundant intellectual and spiritual curiosity. These qualities eventually led him to a strong faith in God, and a commitment to the work of the Lord. Vincent became a beacon of hope for people struggling to see the light of God's love. In his preaching, he advocated penance and conversion throughout Western Europe. Vincent's dedication was so firm that he traveled exclusively on foot, traversing difficult terrain at each turn, for twenty years while calling all people that would listen to the Lord.

St Vincent
St Vincent

Vincent Ferrer was born in Valencia on the date of January 23, 1350. He completed his thorough education in philosophy at the age of fourteen. Three years later, Vincent joined the Dominican Order and immediately engaged his studies in Barcelona. At the ripe age of twenty, he became a professor of philosophy at Lerida. After returning to Barcelona a few years later, severe famine struck the land. Vincent, however, was engulfed by a selfless compassion for all those suffering and predicted that ships would arrive carrying food.

A great myriad of honors were bestowed upon him, including a position as Cardinal, but Vincent chose to labor among the people instead. It was a true demonstration of the selflessness that defined his existence. After a bout with serious illness, Vincent was cured incredibly during an apparition of Christ. This miracle signified Vincent's firm connection with the Lord.

With the breath of life renewed in his lungs, Vincent began his steadfast preaching campaign in 1399. He advocated penance and prepared people for the judgment of the Lord. His unique routines included sleeping on the floor, rising before dawn to pray, celebrating mass each and every day and tending to sick children in the afternoon. Around 1404, Vincent began attracting hordes of disciples who faithfully accompanied him in his traveling. The crowds became so large that spacious areas had to be designated at each town in order to fit the thousands of disciples and listeners accompanying Vincent. It is often estimated that upwards of 10,000 people joined Vincent in his journeying.

St. Vincent Ferrer died in Vannes, Brittany on April 5, 1419. His life was a constant example of Christian selflessness. Vincent was a man of broad intellect and, eventually, great fame; however, he never allowed these characteristics to remove him from the central mission of the Lord=s work. He could have been a very worldly man, yet chose to struggle in an effort to bring the Word of God to fruition in the world.

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