April 5: Feast of St. Vincent Ferrer
Vincent was the fourth child of the nobleman Guillem Ferrer, a notary who came from Palamós, and wife, Constança Miquel, apparently from Vale. Legends surround his birth. It was said that his father was told in a dream by a Dominican friar that he would have a son and that his son would be famous throughout the world. He asked him to make him a Dominican priest. His mother is said never to have experienced pain when she gave birth to him. It is said that while giving alms to a lady Vincent’s mother asked her to pray for a good birth. That lady in the manner of prophesy said, ‘Blessed lady, you will bear an angel and one day he will give me sight.’
St. Vincent was truly a miracle worker. Before his canonization 873 miracles were considered. He was a very good preacher. Thousands thronged to hear him preach and very often even a crowd of fifty thousand was gathered to hear him. He was known to perform miracles immediately after his baptism. When he was five years old he healed the wound on the neck of a person named Michael. He was good at studies and at the age of 14 he finished Philosophy and started his studies on Theology. On Jan 2nd 1367 he joined the order of Preachers. He started fasting and abstaining from food from a young age and he fasted on every Wednesdays and Fridays. The saint’s spirituality troubled the devils and they troubled him in various ways. One day one of them came in the form of a monk and asked him to cut down on his fasting and abstinence. When Vincent started praying Satan ran away. He distanced two women who wanted to distract him from his path. He faced all the temptation with courage.
Vincent was ordained in the year 1379. He was known as a good preacher across the region and was known as the living saint. He was also the confessor of the royals. The queen always knelt down when she addressed him. On November 22nd 1399 he set out to preach the good news to other countries. He went around preaching the word of God and asking people to repent and turn to God for twenty years. Even though he preached in his mother tongue people heard him in their own tongues. Even though there were no mikes or speakers even people at a distance could hear him clearly.
In his life time he was able to bring many souls to God. He was able to bring back broken homes together. He was able to bring back people to life during his lifetime. He spent his life time serving God and living according to the will of God. Vincent left for his heavenly abode on 5th April 1419 at the age of 70. When he expired, a host of little white butterflies fluttered around his head. Those who were standing around his death bed said that these were little “angels” to take the Angel of Judgment home and to attest to his purity and holiness. There was even a “piercingly sweet fragrance” which arose from his body.
St. Vincent Ferrer teaches us that the road to spirituality and holiness was not doing extraordinary thing but doing the ordinary things perfectly. In his book, ‘Treatise on the Spiritual life’, he says thus, “we should be happy with the basic things in our life, a little food, inexpensive clothing and with one pair of sandals.” He talks about the purity of heart thus, ‘Keeping away all sinful thoughts is the best way to keep your heart pure.’ Let us see what he had to say to the preachers. “Your speech has to be light and practical. You must prove your knowledge with examples and proof. Your language should not be rude. Do not ever get angry. You should treat the people like a father would treat his children. You should be like a mother who loves and cares for her children and is happy at their good deeds.”
Let us pray for the intercession of St. Vincent Ferrer in our lives that we may lead a life holy facing everything that challenges our faith and life and that we may have the grace to lead a holy life.