Feast Day : April 5
Patronage: brick makers; builders; construction workers; pavement workers; plumbers; tile makers
Vincent Ferrer was born on January 23, 1350, in Valencia, Spain, to a noble family. At age 17 he entered the Dominican order and was sent to Barcelona to complete his studies. In 1370 he began teaching at Lerida, and had for a pupil Pierre Fouloup, who later became the grand inquisitor of Aragon. Vincent returned to Barcelona in 1373 and aided famine sufferers. While preaching one day he accurately predicted that ships bearing grain were approaching. In 1377 he continued his studies in Toulouse. In 1379, he was employed by Cardinal Pedro de Luna, the papal legate to the court of Aragon, and from 1385 to 1390 taught at the cathedral of Valencia. Pedro de Luna became the antipope Benedict XIII, and appointed Vincent as his confessor and apostolic penitentiary. Vincent declined appointment as cardinal. Vincent fell seriously ill during a French siege of Avignon in 1398. He had a miraculous recovery after having a vision of Christ and SS. Dominic and Francis of Assisi, who told him to go out and preach. Benedict opposed this but allowed him to do so in 1399. For 20 years, Vincent traveled throughout western Europe preaching penance for sin and preparation for judgment. Huge numbers came to hear him preach. Though he spoke only his native dialect, Vincent made himself understood to foreign audiences, apparently through the gift of tongues. St. Bernadine of Siena was among those who heard him speak. In 1408 Vincent went to Genoa to try to help plague victims and to try to heal the schism between Benedict and Pope Gregory XII (r. 1406–15). Though he supported Benedict, he was unsuccessful in getting Benedict to resign for the good of the Church. He returned to Spain, and spent the next eight years preaching and working miracles throughout the southern part of the country. He converted thousands of Moors. In 1416, he announced in his preaching that Benedict was the legitimate pope, but due to the fact that he would not resign, King Ferdinand of Aragon was withdrawing his states from obedience to Avignon. The same year Gregory XII resigned, paving the way for the schism to be healed. Pope Martin V was elected in 1417, and reigned until 1431. Throughout his life, Vincent lived simply, dressing poorly, observing austerities and fasting perpetually. He usually tended to sick children every day. In his last years, Vincent traveled throughout northern France. He died in Vannes, Brittany, on April 5, 1419. In art Vincent often is portrayed as a Dominican holding an open book while preaching, and as a Dominican preacher with a flame on top of his head.