SAINT VINCENT of SARAGOSSA (?-304), deacon and martyr – Patron of Lisbon, Portugal and vine dressers
Today, the universal Church honors Saint Vincent of Saragossa, a deacon who fearlessly preached the word of God during a time of great persecution under Roman rule, and who is also considered one of the most renowned martyrs in all of Spain.
What we know of Saint Vincent is found in the writings of a poet by the name of Prudentius which were read in the churches of Africa near the end of the fourth century, and also spoken of by Saint Augustine in one of his sermons.
Vincent was born at Saragossa, Spain. Under the direction of Bishop Valerius, who was bishop of Saragossa, Vincent studied and was ordained a deacon of the Church. He was commissioned to do the preaching in the diocese, since the bishop suffered from a speech impediment.
Vincent and his bishop were arrested by Dacian, the Roman governor of Spain, because they refused to comply with Emperor Diocletian’s edict of 303, which forbade any Christian worship in the empire and also mandated the exclusive worship of Roman gods. They were dragged in chains to the city of Valencia and kept in prison for trial.
In time, Bishop Valerius was banished by Dacian, but Vincent was subjected to many cruel torments. Tradition tells us that he endured brutal scourgings in the presence of several witnesses; he was stretched on the rack; he was cast on a heated grating, lacerated with iron hooks, and seared with hot metal plates, together with salt being rubbed into his wounds. Upon being returned to his prison cell, the floor was heavily strewn with shards of broken glass and pottery fragments to inflict further torment upon his body.
When all the means of torture failed to effect its desired results, Vincent was placed on a soft bed, in the hope that lenient treatment would induce apostasy (the renunciation of his faith in Jesus Christ). But strengthened by his faith in our Lord and the hope of everlasting life, Vincent maintained an invincible spirit overcoming all efforts to bring him to apostatize. In the year 304, persevering to the very end, Vincent gained for himself the Heavenly crown of martyrdom.
Legend tells us that Vincent’s body was thrown out to be devoured by vultures, but was defended by a raven. Dacian, the Roman governor, had the body cast into the sea, but it came to shore and was found and buried by a pious Christian widow. After peace was restored to the Church, a chapel was built over his remains outside the walls of Valencia.
Listed in the Roman Martyrology, we commemorate Saint Vincent’s feastday on January 22.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Vincent)
“Eternal Father, You gave Saint Vincent the courage to endure torture and death for the Gospel; fill us with Your Spirit and strengthen us in Your Love.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”