Vincent Ferrer
    23 January 1350 - 5 April 1419       

A brief biography.


In 1340 Vincent's father, William Ferrer, married Constantia Miguel, whose family had likewise been ennobled during the conquest of Valencia, 1238. Vincent, born 23 January 1350, was their fourth child.  A brother, not unknown to history, was Boniface Ferrer, General of the Carthusians, who was employed by the antipope Benedict XIII in important diplomatic missions.


Vincent was educated at Valencia, and completed his philosophy at the age of fourteen. In 1367 he entered the Dominican Order, and was sent to the house of studies at Barcelona the following year. In 1370 he taught philosophy at Lérida; one of his pupils there was Pierre Fouloup, later Grand Inquisitor of Aragon.
In 1373 Vincent returned to the Dominican "Studium arabicum et hebraicum" at Barcelona. During his stay there famine was prevalent; filled with compassion for the sufferers; Vincent foretold, while preaching one day, the near approach of ships bearing wheat. His prediction was fulfilled.

In 1377 he was sent to continue his studies at Toulouse, where, in his own words, "study followed prayer, and prayer succeeded study".
In 1379 Vincent was retained by Cardinal Pedro de Luna (later the Antipope Benedict XIII), legate of the Court of Aragon, who was endeavouring to win King Peter IV to the obedience of Avignon. The saint, thoroughly convinced of the legitimacy of the claims of the Avignon pontiffs, was one of their strongest champions.


From 1385 to 1390 he taught theology in the cathedral at Valencia. After this Vincent carried on his apostolic work while in Pedro de Luna's suite.
At Valladolid he converted a Spanish rabbi, later well known as Bishop Paul of Burgos. He was born
at Burgos about 1351; died Aug. 29, 1435. His father, Isaac ha-Levi, had come from Aragon or Navarre to Burgos in the middle of the fourteenth century. Solomon ha-Levi was the wealthiest and most prominent Jew of the city, and was thoroughly conversant with the Talmud and rabbinical literature, officiating as rabbi of Burgos, and apparently filling the office of tax-farmer at the same time.

His scholarship and intelligence, no less than his piety, won the praise of Isaac b. Sheshet, with whom he carried on a learned correspondence (Isaac b. Sheshet, Responsa, Nos. 183-192).
On July 21, 1390, or, according to others, 1391, he was baptized at Burgos, taking the name Paul de Santa Maria. The motives of his conversion seem to have been ambition and vanity, although he himself alleged that he had been convinced by the works of Thomas Aquinas.
At the same time his brothers Pedro Suarez and Alvar Garcia, and his children, one daughter and four sons, aged from three to twelve years, were baptized. His wife, Joanna, whom he had married in his twenty-sixth year, remained faithful to Judaism, dying in that faith in 1420; she was afterward buried in the Church of S. Pablo, built by her husband. More details see Internet s.v. Paul Burgos.

At Salamanca Queen Yolanda of Aragon chose Ferrer for her confessor, 1391-5. About this time he was cited before the Inquisition for preaching publicly "the Judas had done penance", but Pedro de Luna, recently raised to the papal chair as Benedict XIII, cited the case before his tribunal and burned the papers. Benedict then called him to Avignon and appointed him confessor and Apostolic penitentiary.

Notwithstanding the indifference of so many prelates in the papal Court, he laboured zealously among the people. He steadfastly refused the honours, including the cardinalate, which were offered to him. France withdrew from the obedience of Avignon in September, 1398, and the troops of Charles VI laid siege to the city.

An attack of fever at this time brought Vincent to death's door, but during an apparition of Christ accompanied by Saint Dominic and Saint Francis he was miraculously cured and sent to preach penance and prepare men for the coming judgment.


Not until November, 1399, did Benedict allow Vincent Ferrer to begin his apostolate, furnished with full powers of a legate a latere Christi. For twenty years he traversed western Europe, preaching penance for sin and preparation for judgment. Provence was the first field of his apostolate; he was obliged to preach in squares and open places, such were the numbers that flocked to hear him.

In 1401 he evangelized Dauphiny, Savoy, and the Alpine region, converting many Catharins and Waldensians. Thence he penetrated into Lombardy. While preaching at Alexandria he singled out from among the hearers a youth who was destined to evangelize Italy, Bernadine of Siena. He was born on 8 September  1380 in Albizeschi at Massa, and joined the Franciscan order on 8 September 1402. He was a famous preacher in Italy, and accompanied King Sigismund to Rome to receive the imperial crown in 1433. On the Council of Florence (139) he devoted himself for the Union with the Greek Church. He died at Aquila (Abruzzi) on 20 May 1444, and was canonized in 1450.

Another chosen soul with whom Vincent came in contact while in Italy was Margaret of Savoy.

During the years 1403-1404, the missionary Ferrer visited  Switzerland, Savoy, and Lyons. He was followed by an army of penitents drawn from every rank of society, who desired to remain under his guidance. Vincent was ever watchful of his disciples, and never did the breath of scandal touch this strange assemblage, which numbered at times 10,000. Genoa, Flanders, Northern France, all heard Vincent in turn.

It would be difficult to understand how he could make himself understood by the many nationalities he evangelized, as he could speak only Limousin, the language of Valencia. Many of his biographers hold that he was endowed with the gift of tongues, an opinion supported by Nicholas Clemangis, a doctor of the University of Paris, who had heard him preach.


In 1408 Vincent was at Genoa consoling the plague-stricken. A meeting had been arranged there between Gregory XII and Benedict XIII in the hope of putting an end to the schism. Vincent again urged Benedict to have pity on the afflicted Church, but in vain.


 Disappointed, he returned to Spain. It would be difficult to overestimate the influence which he exercised in the Iberian peninsula. Castile, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia, Granada, Andalusia, and Asturias were visited in turn, and everywhere miracles marked his progress; Christians, Jews, and Moslems were all lost in admiration of the thaumaturgus.

From 1408 until 1416 he worked almost continuously south of the Pyrenees. At different times in Spanish history strenuous attempts had been made to convert the Jewish people, baptism or spoliation being the alternatives offered to them. This state of affairs existed when Vincent began to work among them; multitudes were won over by his preaching. Pietro Ranzano (1428-1491), his first biographer, estimates the number of Jews converted at 25,000.

In the Kingdom of Granada he converted thousands of Moors. Vincent was often called upon to aid his country in temporal affairs, as the counsellor of kings and at one time the arbiter of the destiny of Spain. In 1409 he was commissioned by Benedict XIII to announce to Martin of Aragon the death of his only son and heir.

After Martin's death, the representatives of the Kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia appointed Vincent one of the judges to determine the succession to the Crown. At the judgment, known as the Compromise of Caspe, he took the leading part and helped to elect Ferdinand of Castile. Vincent was one of the most resolute and faithful adherents of Benedict XIII, and by his word, sanctity, and miracles he did much to strengthen Benedict's position.


It was not until 1416, when pressed by Ferdinand, King of Aragon, that he abandoned him. On 6 January, preaching at Perpignan, he declared anew to the vast throng gathered around his pulpit that Benedict XIII was the legitimate pope, but that, since he would not resign to bring peace to the Church.

Ferdinand had withdrawn his states from the obedience of Avignon. This act must have caused Vincent much sorrow, for he was deeply attached to Benedict. Nevertheless, it was thought that Vincent was the only person sufficiently esteemed to announce such a step to the Spanish races.

The Dominican John Dominici, born  in Florence around 1356, and joined the Dominicans in 1373 was more fortunate in his attempts to pave the way for reunion, when he announced to the Council of Constance the resignation of Gregory XII. Vincent did not go to the Council of Constance; he continued his apostolic journeys through France, and spent the last two years of his life in Brittany, where consciences without number were reformed and instructed in a Christian way of life.

It is a fact that John Dominic not was able to preach  because of a speech impediment. Through Catherine of Siena's intercession the impediment disappeared, and John was able to begin preaching, eventually becoming one of the most famous of Dominican preachers in Italy.

Pope Gregory XII made John his counsellor and in 1408 named him archbishop of Ragusa and later cardinal of San Sisto. John was one of those who convinced Gregory to resign the papacy in order to end the Western Schism, and so the groundwork was laid for the election of a new and acceptable candidate, Pope Martin V. John himself resigned his cardinalate to clear himself of accusations that his actions were motivated by political ambition.

Martin V appointed John legate to Bohemia and Hungary to combat the heresies of the Hussites, but John died from a fever on June 10, 1419, soon after his arrival in Hungary. He was buried in the Church of Saint Paul the Hermit in Buda. Many miracles were worked at his tomb before it was destroyed by the Turks.

Vincent's death on 5 April 1419.

Vincent felt that he was the messenger of penance sent to prepare men for the judgment. For twenty years he traversed Western Europe preaching penance and awakening the dormant consciences of sinners by his wondrous eloquence.
His austere life was but the living expression of his doctrine. The floor was his usual bed; perpetually fasting, he arose at two in the morning to chant the Office, celebrating Mass daily, afterwards preaching, sometimes three hours, and frequently working miracles. After his midday meal he would tend the sick children; at eight o'clock he prepared his sermon for the following day. He usually travelled on foot, poorly clad.

Vincent Ferrer died April 5, 1419, in Vannes, France, and was probable buried in the cathedral Saint Peter in Vannes. Pope Calixtus III (1455-1458)  decided his beatification in 1455, and Pope Pius II (1458-1464) canonized him in the Dominican church pf Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, 3 June 1455 of 1458.

Among Saint Vincent's writings are: De suppositionibus dialecticis"; "De natura universalis"; "De monderno ecclesiae schismate", a defence of the Avignon pontiffs; and "De vita spirituali". His "Sermons" were published at Antwerp (1570), Augsburg (1729), and Lyons (1816); and his complete works at Valence (1591).

Source: Reinhart, Albert. "St. Vincent Ferrer." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 29 Aug. 2009. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Thomas M. Barrett. Copyright © 2009 by Kevin Knight.
Paintings, Churches, Chapels, Priories a.s.o. There are many priories named after Vincent Ferrer, among others in Plasencia  (Spain). Also many chapels in Dominican Churches: in the church Maria Rotunda in Wien.



On the facade, 1670, of the Dominican church María Rotunda  at Wien,
Saints, among them Vincent Ferrer.

Austria 1966, Mi 1202, Sc 757.




Around the plague-pillar (1709) in Waidhoven an der Thaya
the statues of Sebastian, Donate, Vincent Ferrer and John Nepomucenus.

Austria 1981. Postmark Waidhoven an der Thaya 24.10.1981.




Vincent Ferrer and Prokop (the Balt, ca 1380 -30.05.1414)
are placed together on the Charles Bridge in Prague, statues by Ferdinand,
Maximilano Brokoff (1688-1731), 1712.

Czechoslovakia 1978, Mi 2462, Sc 2196.




Vincent Ferrer died April 5 1419 in Vannes (Brittany) and was probable buried
in the cathedral Saint Peter in Vannes in the background of the stamp.

France 1962, Mi 1386, Sc 1025.




150th Anniversary of Saint Ferrer co-patron of San Vito dei Normanni, Italy, 6 Mai 2002.
Ferrer with trumpet of the last judgment-day and on the book the text: Timete Deum
et date illi honorem (Apocalypse .14,7).

Italy 2002. Postmark San Vito dei Normanni 6 Mai 2002.



Saint Dominic, painting, oil on canvas, 78 x 98 cm, 1567, by Titian, but some experts think,
among others Ridolfi, it represented a Dominican confessor. Cavalcaselle named it Dominic,
and Fogolari (1935) Vincent Ferrer.

The painting is preserved in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

Lesotho 1988, Mi 746, Sc 689. Idem: Vatican City 1971, Mi 588, Sc 689.



Painting by Domenico Morone (ca 1442
after 1517).
Ferrer is preaching before the church
Santa Eufrasia in Verona, and pronounces
the return of Christ, who  appears above
Preserved in the Museum Ashmolean in Oxford.

The stamp illustrates the Third of the Ten Commandments.

                                       Nicaragua 1971, Mi 1644, Sc 893.



Adoration of the Child with Saints by Filippo Lippi.
Vincent Ferrer on this painting at the right.
Ferrer bears the book with the text: 'Timete Deum quia venit hora
iudicii eius.' the vulgate version of Apocalypse 14,7:
'Timete Dominum  (et date illi honorem) quia venit hora iudicii eius.'

Sierra Leone 2001, Mi 4145,Sc --.
The same picture on Antigua and Barbuda 1996, Mi 2433, Sc 2019.





5th Centenary of the canonization of Vincent Ferrer, decided 
by Pope Calixtus III (1455-1458) in 1455, and proclaimed by
Pope Pius II (1458-1464) in 1458. Painting by Francisco Vilar
(17th century) in the church San Esteban in Valencia.

Spain 1955, Mi 1068, Sc 842, FDC.


Vincent Ferrer was born in Valencia in 1455
and is the patron saint of Valencia.
To commemorate this fact a cover was issued with the figure of Ferrer,
after the painting by the Spanish artist Francisco Vilar, preserved
in the church San Esteban in Valencia.
In the postmark Ferrer's hand.

Spain 1955. Postmark Valencia 24 April 1955.



On the bridge - Puente del Real, 16th century, -, in Valencia,
the statue of Vincent Ferrer, 17th century.

Spain 1971, Mi (Valencia) 5; Sc --.




Ferrer's  relics came to Valencia, his birth town.
To commemorate this translation there was an
On the postmark Ferrer's face.

Spain 1980. Postmark Valencia 16 - 19 April 1980.



Spain 1980. Postage meter of Valencia 20 March 1980.


Vincent Ferrer (ca.1367- 05.04.1419) gave his cross
to the people of Graus, in 1415. It is exposed on the altar
in the Capilla del
 Santo Cristo de San Vicente Ferrer.
(17th cent.)

Spain 1999. Postmark Graus (1999).



The Capilla del Santo Cristo de San Vicente Ferrer (17th cent.)
Graus, Spain, with on the altar the cross of Vincent Ferrer.


Spain 1999. Postmark Graus 12.9.1999 on maximum card.




The post office department of Togo issued also a series about the
Ten Commandments and gives to Vincent Ferrer the Third Commandment.
On the stamp only Ferrer's name.

Togo 1982, Mi 1597, Sc 1134.



Source of the picture: www.

Giovanni Bellini (ca 1430-29.11.1516) ) painted a polyptych
of Saint Vincent Ferrer, (ca 1464), oil on panel. In the middle: Vincent Ferrer (167x67 cm), with above The dead Christ with two Angels (57x72 cm).
At the left Christopher with Child (167x67 cm) with above the Archangel Gabriel (67x72 cm).
At the right Saint Sebastian (167x67 cm) with above the Holy Virgin (67x72 cm). On the predella events of the life of Vincent Ferrer.
This polyptych is preserved in the Church of Saint John and
Saint Peter (Zanipolo) in Venezia.



 On this stamp a detail of the Archangel Gabriel.

   Turks and Caicos 2002, Mi 1729, Sc --.




Parish in Cincinnati, dedicated to Vincent Ferrer, with his words:
Growing Together in Faith.
United States of America 1989. Postage meter of Cincinnati 21.12.1989.


There are many churches and priories dedicated to Vincent Ferrer.
Among others the priory in Plasencia, Spain, nowadays a parador (hotel).

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