Saint Vincent Ferrier at Vannes!

So much to see and do in my wonderful Vannes of my lovely Morbihan and beautiful Brittany. However, some things holds you and make you reflect even on the bounties of been able to enjoy what I see around me and appreciated. Then, it hits you a person , a men who come from my beloved Spain, and so revered here with the Bretons. I need to write a post on him.

Please bear with me as I write to you about Saint Vincent Ferrier , or Vicente Ferrer as known in Valencia , Spain!  Saint Vincent Ferrier spread the word of God to the Bretons from March 3 1418 to April 5 1419.

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Vincent Ferrier (Sp. Vicente Ferrer) was a priest of the Dominican order, born on 23 January 1350 near Valencia (Crown of Aragon) and died on 5 April 1419 in Vannes (Morbihan,Brittany), which remained famous for his public preaching. Some of his relics are revered at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Vannes. He is the patron saint of the Valencian Community in Spain.  Vincent is the fourth child of a man born of the Aragonese nobility, Guillem Ferrer, from Palamos and Constança Miquel. It was named after Saint Vincent of Zaragoza, the patron of his hometown, Valencia. In 1379, he was ordained a priest in Barcelona. Initially, he taught theology in Barcelona and then at the University of Lleida, where he obtained a doctorate in theology.

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Close to Pedro de Luna, then Cardinal and future Pope Benedict XIII, Vincent Ferrier first joined the papacy of Avignon, rejecting the legitimacy of  Roman Pope Urbain VI in his treatise de Moderno Ecclesiae Schismate. He later became a confessor of Benedict XIII, now antipope and emblematic figure of resistance in Rome. But for the sake of Union of the Church, he eventually resigned himself to abandoning the cause of Benedict to recognize the Roman Pope. His official waiver took place in 1416, at a time when the Council of Constance was working to end the Schism.  A tireless preacher and evangeliser of Europe for twenty years, from 1399 to his death, he travels to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and even goes to Scotland. He is often accompanied by an impressive amount of disciples, to the point that he must essentially preach in large outdoor spaces in order to be heard from the crowd. We lend him the gift of languages, given his ability to communicate with so many different peoples.

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The Relics of Saint Vincent Ferrier at St Peter’s Cathedral of Vannes

He was successively a Professor of Philosophy, eighteen years old! Professor of Science, Professor of Theology. His authority was necessary. His lights were used in the throes trials of the application of Canon law and Civil law. His decisions had the force of law. Chapters and bishops, parish priests and religious, neighboring and rival cities referred to him as arbiter of their disputes. He travels sometimes on foot, sometimes on the back of mule. He goes from Avignon to Valencia, bids farewell to his homeland, travels all the provinces of Spain, crosses the Pyrenees to San Sebastian, visits all our Midi region, passes to Italy, evangelises Switzerland, the center of France, goes back to Belgium, returns to the Franche-Comté, tilts towards Bordeaux and finally heads to Brittany!

To appreciate the results obtained by Saint Vincent Ferrier during his 20 years of apostolate, we must know what Europe was in the 15C. Everywhere, war. The Turks were to settle definitively in the eastern provinces. It was the time of the great pity of the Kingdom of France. Three quarters of the territory were at the mercy of the English troops, who had accumulated in their passage the material ruins. The black plague had made incredible havoc.  In France, the very Christian country, the practices of paganism had been re-enacted. The sign of the Cross was ignored by many. There was still a lot of misery, but they did not always respond to a need for faith; they were often erected to ward off a bad spell at the crossroads of roads. God spoke so clearly through the lips of the preacher brother that one only recognized an attitude in front of him, that of the penitent who implores forgiveness.

One of the most difficult works that a missionary can encounter is the conversion of Jews and Muslims. Everyone knew their hatred of the Christian name. Their obstinacy is explained: on the first weighs the responsibility of the Deicide, and the paradise of Muhammad is too easy for the latter to decide to follow the hard path that leads to heaven. The Moorish Kings of Granada also wanted to hear the voice of the famous missionary. They picked him up. Saint Vincent went to their call.  It is to him that we owe the intense Christian vitality that distinguishes us even today. But do not believe that we were the only beneficiaries of his zeal. It is the whole of Europe that should come to its Tomb, for it owes its life. He tore it from paganism. Where his action was more particularly felt, in Spain, Italy, France, the storm raised by Luther came crashing powerless. Faith crumbled: under the fire of his inspired verb, she resumed the solidity of granite.

He is the Adviser of Pope Benedict XIII in the throes questions that the Schism is born. When Spain finally feels the need to get out of the political crisis that threatens its existence, it chooses nine delegates who will have to settle the succession to the throne. After a month of laborious studies, these men, the most illustrious of the Kingdom, doubted themselves. But as soon as master Vincent expressed his opinion, they rank as the one who is required.

And he came to Brittany ,finally!

Twice already the Duke Jean V of Brittany had prayed to Saint Vincent to come and evangelise his States. A final letter from the Duke, written at the beginning of November 1417, exposed the dismal situation of religion among the Breton populations. For the third time, Designated person by the duke Jean Bernier began his journey. He met with Vincent in Tours, in the last days of December, and was happy enough to triumph over all the resistance. On February 8, 1418, Saint Vincent arrives in Nantes. He stayed there for nearly two weeks, and went on to Vannes where the Duke was standing with his court. He preaches in Fégréac, La Roche-Bernard, Redon, Muzillac, Questembert, and on Friday, March 4, he is in Theix.

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The Apostle is at Theix on March 30th again. On the 31st of the evening, he travels to the Abbey of Prayers, near Muzillac. He arrives in Guérande on 8 April. He preached through the peninsula, and on 14 April he was found in Saint-Gildas-des-Bois, where after talking about perseverance in good works, he healed a demonic that was brought, solidly garrotted, to the parish church. He then went back to Rennes, and the capital of Brittany made him a triumphal reception. On April 20-22, he preached on Place St. Anne in front of a huge crowd. All the houses that began to populate this square opened their windows to the impatient listeners, and saw up their roofs to cover themselves with the most impatient. For about ten days he travelled around the area. Fougéres, Vitré, Montfort heard him. Then he returned to Rennes on 2 May 1418.

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The Apostle pursues his mission by the north coast of Brittany. The canonization trial mentions Quintin, Châtelaudren, Guingamp, La Roche-Derrien. It is certain that he visited Tréguier, Lannion, Morlaix, Saint-Pol de Léon. Lesneven kept a long time in a silver reliquary “the cap of Monsieur Saint Vincent Ferrier”. From Quimper,   Apostle Vincent headed east, passed through Concarneau, Quimperlé, Hennebont, then ascends inward and evangelized Guémené, Pontivy, La Chèze, La Trinité-Porhoët, Josselin, and Ploërmel. He went to Redon a second time, and went down again to Nantes.

In the early days of 1419, Saint Vincent slowly moved to Vannes, where his prodigious career was to be completed. Alas! Vannes was no longer to hear the voice that had awakened the souls of a deadly lethargy. The sick would no longer surrender in the Cour Dreulin, their foreheads would no longer bend under his blessing hand. The thaumaturgy Apostle, the soberer of material and moral life, slept without hope back in the miraculously furrow. On 25 March 1419, Saint Vincent was seized with a violent fever. Soon the Holy missionary entered into agony. He clasped his hands, looked up at the sky, held his crucifix one last time, and on Wednesday of the week of passion, 5th day of April, in the year 1419, the glorious confessor and friend of God, brother Vincent Ferrier, native of Valencia, religious of the order of Preachers Brothers, returned to God the spirit, in the city of Vannes, in the hotel of one of the bourgeois of the city. On Friday, April 7, the funeral, took place in great solemnity. The Tomb had been dug between the Choir and the high Altar on the north side, opposite the Pulpit. Saint Vincent had promised his good people of Brittany never to forget them. He kept his word beautifully, and his tomb was the living source from which bursts of dazzling wonders sprained. They are always there much at least in St Peter’s Cathedral, the relics that proved to our ancestors the incomparable power of Saint Vincent. Several centuries have passed. The time had only taken on our hearts where he threw oblivion. The dust of these bones kept his immortal power: we could test it, if we had faith.

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France is not forgotten his missions, it travels all the south before being called in Brittany in 1418 by Jean V, Duke of Brittany. He travelled practically all of Brittany from town to town for nearly two years and returned to Vannes, exhausted, where he died on 5 April 1419.   After the many miracles recorded on his tomb attributed to him, the Duke  Jean V of Brittany asked that the Dominican be canonized. Pope Calixte III proclaimed his canonization on 29 June 1455. The Pope designates the Breton prelate Alain de Coëtivy to lift the relics of the Tomb; the ceremony took place in Vannes on April 5, 1456. He’s celebrated on April 5th still. A nice story me think.

Some webpages to help you understand more the man, the city of Vannes, Brittany and Spain are

Official Saint Vincent Ferrier Vannes

Official St Peter’s Cathedral of Vannes on Saint Vincent Ferrier

It is still very much visited, every time I stop by the Cathedral the chapel is with many, and it is a nice story that helps the travelers on its journeys as he did. Saint Vincent Ferrier of Valencia ,Spain, Vicente Ferrer. Hope you have enjoy it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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