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Statuary St. Vincent Ferrer

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St. Vincent Ferrer

St Vincent Ferrer (1350 – 1419) was a Valencian Dominican friar, who gained acclaim as a missionary and a logician. He is honored as a saint of the Catholic Church. He is patron saint of fishermen in Brittany, France and of orphanages in Spain, as well as builders and plumbers.

Early life

Vincent was the fourth child of the Anglo-Scottish nobleman William Stewart Ferrer (descended from the English Ferrer family and the Stewarts of Scotland) and his Spanish wife, Constantia Miguel. Legends surround his birth. It was said that his father was told in a dream by a Dominican friar that his son would be famous throughout the world. His mother is said never to have experienced pain when she gave birth to him. He would fast on Wednesdays and Fridays and he loved the Passion of Christ very much. He would help the poor and distribute many alms to them. He began his classical studies at the age of eight, his study of theology at fourteen.

Four years later, at the age of eighteen, Ferrer entered the Order of Preachers, commonly called the Dominican Order. As soon as he had entered the novitiate of the Order, though, he experienced temptations urging him to leave. Even his parents pleaded with him to do so and become a secular priest. He prayed and practiced penance to overcome these trials. Thus he succeeded in completing the year of probation and advancing to his profession; he then studied philosophy and theology. .

For a period of three years, he read solely Sacred Scripture, and eventually committed it to memory. He published a treatise on Dialectic Suppositions after his solemn profession, and in 1379 was ordained a Catholic priest at Barcelona. He eventually became a Master of Sacred Theology and was commissioned by the Order to deliver lectures on philosophy. He was then sent to Barcelona and eventually to the University of Lleida, where he earned his doctorate in theology.

Religious gifts and missionary work

Vincent later claimed that the Great Schism had such a depressing effect on his mind that it caused him to be seriously ill at the age of forty. He claimed that God healed him and instructed him to go out and convert many. For twenty-one years he was said to have traveled to England, Scotland, Ireland, Aragon, Castile, France, Switzerland, and Italy, preaching the Gospel and converting many. Many biographers believe that he could speak only Catalan, but was endowed with the gift of tongues.

He preached to St. Colette of Corbie and to her nuns, and it was she who told him that he would die in France. Too ill to return to Spain, he did, indeed, die in Brittany. Breton fishermen still invoke his aid in storms. In Spain, he is also the patron of orphanages.

Conversion of Jews and controversy

Vincent is said to be responsible for the conversion of many Jews to Catholicism, often by questionable means; for instance, he is said to have made their lives difficult until they converted and to have "dedicated" synagogues as churches on the basis of his own authority. One of his converts, a former rabbi by the name of Solomon ha-Levi, went on to become the Bishop of Cartagena and later the Archbishop of Burgos. Vincent is noted to have contributed to anti-Semitism in Spain, as violence accompanied his visits to towns that had Jewish communities. He promulgated various anti-Jewish laws banning Jews from trading food with Christians, having Christian employees, changing their residence, or cutting either their hair or beards.

Sources are contradictory concerning Vincent's achievement in converting a synagogue in Toledo, Spain, into the Church of Santa Maria la Blanca; one source says he preached to the mobs whose riots led to the appropriation of the synagogue and its transformation into a church in 1391; a second source says he converted the Jews of the city who changed the synagogue to a church after they embraced the Faith, but hints at the year 1411; a third source identifies two distinct incidents, one in Valencia in 1391 and one in Toledo at a later date, but says he put down an uprising against Jews in one place and defused a persecution against them in the other.

Vincent also attended the Disputation of Tortosa to convert Jews.

Political work

Vincent intervened during a political crisis in his homeland, which resulted in the Compromise of Caspe, by which the Crown of Aragon was given to a Castilian prince, Ferdinand of Antequera.

According to two sources Vincent was very loyal to the Avignonese Antipope Benedict XIII, better known as "Papa Luna" in Castile and Aragon, remained in steadfast loyalty to him, and believed that Benedict XIII was the true Pope. According to another source, Vincent labored to have Benedict XIII end the schism, and after an extended period of receiving empty promises, Vincent encouraged King Ferdinand of Castile to withdraw his support from Benedict XIII.

Death and legacy

Vincent died on 5 April 1419 at Vannes in Brittany, and was buried in Vannes Cathedral. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III on 3 June 1455. His feast day is celebrated on 5 April. The previously-schismatic Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer, a pontifical religious institute founded in 1979, is named after him.

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Title: Statue of Saint Vincent Ferrer
Item Number: KRSS-539
KRSS-539: Statue of Saint Vincent Ferrer. These statues are considered by many church professionals to be the finest new statues available today. This statue is hand mold...