Saint Vincent Ferrier by Henri Ghéon

(New York: Sheed & Ward, 1939), 216


  • "If his contemporaries credited him with such a host of miracles, it means, I take it, that he worked a fair number. He himself speaks of three thousand and the process of his canonisation lists exactly eight hundred and seventy three. There may have been some exaggeration, but there must have been something there to exaggerate." (xii)
  • The Curé d'Ars loved to describe the incident of the builder who fell from a high scaffolding in the presence of Brother Vincent. Now Vincent was not the man to trifle with his vow of obedience and he had promised his superior not to use his gift of miracle again without permission. "Wait," he cried to the downward-hurtling workman, "I'll run and ask the prior." The workman could only wait where he was: and there he remained resting on air. When the friar returned with the necessary permission, the miracle had already happened. (xiii)

Chapter I: Formation of a Saint

  • "The originality of this great saint, his special quality so to speak—though he shares it with certain others including st Catherine of Siena—was the constant and intimate marriage, in his being and his works, of practical reason and recourse to God, temporal means and spiritual, the possible and the impossible." (xiv)
  • "Prauer before all. Prayer is the foundation of work." (3)
  • Black marble font at San Esteban where he was baptized in Valencia (5)
  • "The love of God was not idle in that family. It is bit surprising that it should have produced so great a saint." (7)
  • "All this crowd of children were piled into a little house, situated at the corner of the Calle Del Mar, not far from the harbor." (7)
  • "Spain is Spain, not France, not England. It is the mortal error of our people to take for granted that other peoples must be like itself." (10)
  • From his Treatise on the Spiritual Life
    • "Even in spiritual thins prefer the will of others to your own, even if your own seems better, provided that theirs is good. In material things ordinarily do the will of others whoever they are." (20)
    • "The least desire for greatness, no matter under what pretext of charity it arises, is the head of the serpent of hell; we must crush it instantly with the cross." (20)
  • Ladder of perfection (23)
    1. Self-knowledge
    2. Courage in temptations
    3. Abundant penance for sins
    4. Terror of falling back into sin
    5. Discipline of one's thoughts and acts
    6. Patience in trials
    7. Flight from the occasion of sin
    8. Union with the four arms of the Cross for the destruction of vices
    9. Constant memory of all that Our Lord has done for us
    10. Perseverance in prayer by day and night
    11. Habitual taste for the divine loveliness
    12. The insatiable desire to make Christ Jesus known, loved, and feared
    13. A merciful compassion for one's neighbor in all the needs of his life
    14. The gift of continual Thanksgiving, praise, and glorification in all things of God and His Son
    15. I am nothing
  • His spiritual writings are eminently practical and grounded in good theology (24), and his personal perfection is not just for him but so that he can be a more effective preacher (25)
  • Universalism: "One day in the pulpit he had the audacity, or the charity, to declare that the traitor Judas had repented in the very moment of death and been saved—for Vincent would have had the whole world saved." (29)
    • ..."an opinion which as we have seen Brother Vincent had maintained erroneously but solely through excess of pity" (47)

Chapter II: The Testing at Avignon

  • He wrote Treatise on the Schism and did not take the same side as Catherine of Siena
  • Catherine got the Pope back to Rome, he died and Urban VI was elected under a mob, but the French Cardinals withdrew and elected antipope Clement VII separately creating the schism. Vincent was wrong in supporting Clement VII, but in good faith (as was half of Europe)
  • "He had come to the Court to help end the Schism and every man he met had his own private schism within him." (47)

Chapter III: In the Track of the Flagellants

  • Vincent had a "profound and piercing sense of sin...for sin is a disorder, the worst of all disorders in the eyes of God" (67)

Chapter IV: The Fioretti of Brother Vincent

  • "For in the last resort it was the fundamentals of doctrine and nothing more that Brother Vincent preached everywhere." (84)
  • Birds: "Their song is the breviary that God has given them." (85)
  • "He spared nobody, he have everybody the whole truth with the same avenging vigour." (93)
  • "He never ceased to remind them that in the hierarchy of Christian virtues, the virtue of prayer must be placed in the first rank." (97)
  • "Paradise is given only to those who truly aspire to it. If a man does not in this world really love the glory of Heaven, even though he should do infinite works of penance, he must still pass through Purgatory to learn to desire it." (101)
  • We are to be salt of the earth because "salt drives away infection, preserves from corruption, and adds pleasure to the taste when we add it to the dishes on our table." (102)
  • His sermon on the Seven Joys and the Seven Sorrows of Mary recounts them together on the morning of the resurrection (re-read 103-104)

Chapter V: The Conversion of Spain

  • "It was sufficient that he should speak what he thought in the idiom of his childhood, his family, his country, the old Valencian vernacular; the multitude, whatever their own languages, grasped his thought and make it their own." (113)
  • "I am speaking my mother tongue, theo nly one I now, save for Latin and a little Hebrew. It is God who translates it for you and renders it intelligible to you." (115)
  • "However far away people might be, everyone heard every syllable." (116)
  • Vincent preached for the mass conversion of Jews and Moors with an eye toward the future political unification of Spain

Chapter VI: The End of Schism and the Hundred Years War

  • While the two popes met, Rome was captured and a third Pope was elected, Alexander V and then John XXIII
  • Two of the Popes offered to resign if Benedict did the same: Vincent preached and pleaded with him to do so for the unity of the Church despite his obstinacy (140)
  • Dominican ideal: "Master Vincent was a realist, resembling in this all the great friars of his Order—an Order at once contemplative, studious an active, based upon a complete grasp of reality temporal and spiritual." (148)
  • Vincent saw the importance of Charles as did St. Joan of Arc, but he did not prophesy her and died when she was only ten (150)
  • "He often worked on his journeys and had to carry heavy volumes with him—the whole Summa of St. Thomas, perhaps, with Commentaries. He had loaded them on his ass and the ass sank in the mud so that it seemed impossible to get him out again. 'Jesus, aid him!' he cried. And so it happened." (155)

Chapter VII: Patron of Brittany: Death and Transfiguration

  • Died in Vannes on April 5, 1419: "God wanted him to be a Breton, for the salvation of Brittany" (167)
  • Martin V, the new Pope made possible by Vincent's work, would grant whatever he might choose to ask, but he asked only peace of soul (168)
  • His final resting place was contested and "it took a bull of Nicholas V to ensure his remaining in perpetuity, uncontested, in the place where he lay [in Vannes]" (171)
  • Recent devotion in Brittany to St. Anne d'Auray who appeared to the farm labourer Nicolazic has not diminished that to Vincent, and "the two devotions harmoise and complete each other without rivalry" (172)
  • "'It is an immense enterprise,' as one historian has noted, 'to write a life of which every incident was a miracle.'" (173)
  • Daily Routine: Slept 5 hrs, rose at 2 for night office, confession each morning, scourged himself, mass at 6, 3 hours preaching, visits to the sick, mediations, on the road (173-174)
  • Sinner who asked for his graces at death: "He returned Vincent his merits along with his cheque. For you never lose by the gift of one’s yourself unless you only half give it." (177)
  • "There are no misfortunes too petty for sufferers to bear or for saints to cure." (181)
  • "He stopped at the end of his course and there learnt the final lesson—that for him who takes the road bearing God's message there is no turning back: he must press on towards his goal, which is the infinite." (188)
  • "We speak so much of merciful forgiveness that we have forgotten the Judgment. Justice and mercy meet and are reconciled in the Cross. Inflexibly vertical, it stands for the law that nothing can bend; but it's two arms stretch out over the whole earth: and the whole earth falls under their shadow, full of pity for men." (190)

Stories & Miracles:

  • midair miracle waiting for permission
  • boy pretended to be dead for miracle died
  • death and resurrection of Jewish convert
  • Forth Joy of Mary
  • the plague grew less at his approach
  • preaching could be heard far away and in different languages
  • cured a blind man
  • touched the ground with his staff and a fountain gushed up
  • to Calixtus III: "you will become Pope and you will canonize me" (126)
  • inn appeared to house him in the middle of he forest
  • prayed and the flame went out
  • miracle of the ugly woman: "She needs St. Vincent" (133)
  • commanded a storm to be still (137)
  • filtered baptized wine with his scapular (137)
  • both brought rain and stopped a flood (145)
  • cured the sick (151)
  • cheque signing over his graces returned to him after the sinner died (177)
  • Story of dead man waking up to answer his question (178):

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 the dead man, who was settling down again on the stretcher, to give 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.

Topic: Lives of the Saints


Created: 2024-04-22-Mon
Updated: 2024-05-04-Sat