St. Vincent Ferrer was born on January 23, 1350 at Valencia, in Spain. It is said that his mother Constance did not experience pain during her pregnancy and delivery. His father had a prophetic dream in which an unknown Dominican preacher appeared to him and told him that he would have a son whose fame would be world-renowned. Also, a poor blind woman predicted that the child Constance bore within her was an "angel who would one day restore her sight" – which he did years later. His name was taken from St. Vincent Martyr, the patron saint of Valencia.
St. Vincent brought with him into the world a happy disposition for learning and piety, which improved from his cradle by study and a good education. In his childhood he rigorously fasted every Wednesday and Friday. The passion of Christ was always the object of his most tender devotion. The Blessed Virgin he ever honored as his spiritual mother.
Vincent is a lover of the poor. He treated them with the greatest affection and charity which caused his parents to make him dispenser of their bountiful alms.
The saint was honored to have a gift of tongues. Preaching on his own, he was understood by men of different languages, which is affirmed by Lanzano, who says that Greek, Germans, Sardes, Hungarians, and people of other nations declared they understood every word he spoke, though he preached in Latin or his mother tongue, as spoken at Valencia.
However far away people might be, everyone heard every syllable. He could make himself heard literally about three miles away, when it was of importance that he should be heard.
He also worked many wonders through the Sign of the Cross and through the Holy Name of Jesus. He warned lazy Christians who sloopily made a circular sign of the Cross that they were using a sign of the Devil instead!
The Moorish king had heard him; the multitude of his miracles was startling, and for a Muslim, upsetting. He could not get Vincent out of his head. Finally he decided he must see the man who worked the miracles. He sent for him. The saint arrives lame from a great sore in the leg and rode on his motheaten old donkey through all the splendors of the Alhambra grounds under the fixed stare of the marble lions. The king wanted to hear him preach. That in itself was a revolution. They murmured, they listened, and doubtless they understood though he spoke no Arabic. For, after three sermons, eight thousand Moors asked for Baptism. Some of the nobles, fearing the total subversion of their religion, obliged the king to dismiss him.
Aside from the Moors, the saint also converted about twenty-five thousand Jews.
Vincent would often preach on the roof of a house surrounded by trees. One day he stopped suddenly in his sermon. The people were startled. "Do not be shocked by this interval," he said, "I must wait upon grace." As the crowd began to laugh, a party of Jews were seen approaching: Grace had conquered them. Of sixteen rabbis, fourteen were converted. How he loved these new children of his; he loved to remind Christians who too readily forgot the fact that Jesus and Mary were of the Jewish race.
The people had recourse to him in every difficulty. The smallest villages fought to have him. In one place they took his hat, which assured pregnant women of a safe and easy delivery; in others, drove away a cloud of grasshoppers and a whole army of weevils with holy water. Once he came to the point of utter exhaustion. He could go no further and heaven came to his aid. In the very heat of a wild lonely forest, an excellent hotel appeared suddenly from nowhere to shelter him; leaving it the next day, he happened to forget his hat. One of the penitents went back to the inn - the hat was hanging on the branch of the tree at the very spot where the inn had stood.
Master Vincent came one time to the bedside of a sinner, to assist him in his last agony. The sinner clung to the saint; he felt that his tardy remorse, his imperfect contrition, his absence of penance, were insufficient to save him unless St. Vincent threw the whole of himself into the scale. He begged Vincent to make over to him a good share of the treasures of grace he had compiled. The saint had pity on his despair. He said: "I give God all my merits to be applied to you." "Is that true?" The dyng man was distrustful. He did not know that what a saint says is definite. "Then write it down for me on a slip of a paper." The saint cheerfully did what he was asked and the man died clutching his precious document. Logically, Vincent had nothing left - he must begin to pile up another lot of graces to himself. But a few days later, while he was preaching, a paper whirled in the air above the heads of the crowd, like a dead leaf blown along by the wind. Finally it settled on the preacher's cloak. I need not tell you what it was. God had decided to pay for the sinner's salvation in a different coin. He returned Vincent his merits along with his check. For you never lose by the gift of one's self unless you only half give it.
At Pampeluna, they had just condemned an innocent man to death. Vincent pleaded for him in vain. As he was being led to the scaffold, they passed a corpse being taken to burial on a stretcher. Vincent suddenly addressed the corpse: "You who have no longer anything to gain by lying, is this man guilty?" Answer me!" The dead man sat up and affirmed, "He is not." Then Vincent, to reward him for that service, offered him back the burden of earthly life. "No, Father," he replied, "for I am assured of salvation." And he went off to sleep again and was carried to the cemetery.
Another marvelous episode. It happened in Gerona. In the thick of the crowd stood a man somber, glowering, rage stamped on every feature. Near him was his wife with an infant in her arms, still at the breast. The man devoured by a frenzy jealousy. Brother Vincent saw him, saw what fire burned in him, and preached upon jealousy. Suddenly he turned to the man. "You doubt your wife's faithfulness, do you not? You think this child is not yours? Well, watch!" Then he cried in a great voice to the child: "Embrace your father!" The infant stirred, stood upright, turned towards the man and held out his arms. And thus was the man cured and the family peace restored.
St. Vincent touch each heart at the point he chose, the point that charity suggested to him, and invariably at the precise moment. He knew for example that a shepherd in the heart of the mountains had so great confidence in him that he came to hear him, leaving his flock, only staying to draw a circle round them with his staff -- counting on the saint to see that the sheep did not go out of the circle or the wolves come into it. Vincent knew it, whether he had guessed it or read it in the man's eyes; or perhaps God revealed to him the poor shepherd's naive arrangement and let him know that He meant to grant his prayer. At any rate, Vincent told him before all the crowd: Your sheep are safe; God is watching over them." Similarly, we are told that mothers did not hesitate to leave their babies to come to his sermons. They confided the infants to the angels -- as Vincent advised them to. He doubted nothing, this man --- God least of all.
Multitudes of miracles did St. Vincent Ferrer which would make us tired of reading and hearing. It's like almost every move he makes were miracles. No doubt he is one Saint whom we could pray for especially for our dire needs.
Let us pray :
ST. VINCENT FERRER PRAY FOR US!
Related links : ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, ST.PEDRO CALUNGSOD, ST. LORENZO RUIZ,
ST. JOHN VIANNEY, ST. PERPETUA AND FELICITY,