Sunday, 5 April 2009

Born at Valencia in Spain, this illustrious son of St. Dominic came into the world on January 23, 1357. In the year 1374, he entered the Order of St. Dominic in a monastery near his native city. Soon after his profession he was commissioned to deliver lectures on philosophy. On being sent to Barcelona, he continued his scholastic duties and at the same time devoted himself to preaching. At Lerida, the famous university city of Catalonia, he received his doctorate. After this he laboured six years in Valencia, during which time he perfected himself in the Christian life. In 1390, he was obliged to accompany Cardinal Pedro de Luna to France, but he soon returned home. When, in 1394, de Luna himself had become Pope at Avignon he summoned St. Vincent and made him Master of the sacred palace. In this capacity St. Vincent made unsuccessful efforts to put an end to the great schism. He refused all ecclesiastical dignities, even the cardinal's hat, and only craved to be appointed Apostolic Missionary. Now began those labours that made him the famous missionary of the fourteenth century. He evangelized nearly every province of Spain, and preached in France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Numerous conversions followed his preaching, which God Himself assisted by the gift of miracles. Though the Church was then divided by the great schism, the saint was honourably received in the districts subject to the two claimants to the Papacy. He was even invited to Mohammedan Granada, where he preached the gospel with much success. He lived to behold the end of the great schism and the election of Pope Martin V. He died April 5, 1419. If it was not Palm Sunday, today would be his feast day. In his iconography St Vincent is displayed holding a book, a trumpet, having wings and a flame of fire on his head. The book is the Holy Gospels, the trumpet is the strength of his preaching in so many different places, the wings represent his angelic condition as it is believed that he never committed a mortal sin, the flame on his head shows his union with the apostles in the upper room on Pentecost as he was seen as another apostle in his own time. He was known by his generation as the Angel of the Apocalypse, heralding by his preaching the new order. His favourite quote was: “Timite Deum et date illi honorem” – “Fear the Lord and give him honour”.

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