St. Vincent Ferrer’s 5 virtues that will make you holy

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St. Vincent Ferrer
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St. Vincent Ferrer was basically the Billy Graham of the early 1400s. This Spanish Dominican friar is best known for his extensive preaching throughout Europe and his assistance in ending the Great Western Schism by working for peace and unity within the Church.

Nicknamed the Angel of Judgment, St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419) decided mid-life to be a parish mission preacher. He traversed the roads of Spain, France, and beyond in Western Europe for 20 years, during which time he gave sermons, especially on sin, death, God’s judgments, hell and eternity.

Believing he was the messenger of penance sent to prepare men for judgment, St. Vincent Ferrer preached in squares and open places due to the large numbers of people who flocked to hear him. He converted many non-Christians, brought back heretics and schismatics to the faith, and also convinced many hardened sinners everywhere to live a life of penance.

Called to awaken consciences to virtue

St. Vincent Ferrer strove to awaken the dormant consciences of sinners through his profoundly scriptural preaching. In his “Sermon on the Last Judgment” (Mt 25:33), he discusses the difference between being a sheep and a goat in the eyes of God. According to St. Vincent Ferrer, in order to become a sheep of Jesus Christ instead of a devil’s goat, a person needs to cultivate five virtues, which he outlined: 1) simple innocence, 2) ample mercy, 3) steadfast patience, 4) true obedience, and 5) worthy penance. His means of combatting the devil’s temptations were prayer, penance, and a perpetual watchfulness over his passions.

St. Vincent Ferrer always composed his sermons at the foot of a crucifix as a means of bringing the true love of God through them to all people. St. Vincent believed that the general source of heresy was ignorance and want of an instructor. He says, “I blush and tremble when I consider the terrible judgment impending on ecclesiastical superiors who live at their ease in rich palaces, etc. whilst so many souls redeemed by the blood of Christ are perishing. I pray, without ceasing, ‘the Lord of the harvest’ that he send good workmen into his harvest.”

A life marked by simplicity

Known for his austerity, including perpetual fasting, St. Vincent Ferrer usually slept on the floor and arose at 2 a.m. to chant the Divine Office. He celebrated Mass daily and afterward preached – sometimes for three hours while frequently working miracles. After his midday meal, he tended to sick children. St. Vincent Ferrer regularly traveled on foot and was poorly clad.

In his study of Sacred Scripture, his love for Christ and his Church, and the liturgy, St. Vincent Ferrer exemplified humble abandonment to the will of God as he thirsted for the salvation of souls. He proclaimed, “My whole life is nothing but stench: I am all infection both in soul and body; everything in me exhales a smell of corruption, caused by the abominations of my sins and injustices: and what is worse, I feel this stench increasing daily in me, and renewed always more insupportably.” In his humility, St. Vincent added, “Christ, the master of humility, manifests his truth only to the humble and hides himself from the proud.”


Dear Jesus, I give myself entirely to you right now. I am here to serve you. In your timing, let me know where you want me to go and what you want me to do to proclaim the Gospel. Thank you, above all, for your Cross and Resurrection.


O God, who raised up the Priest Saint Vincent Ferrer
to minister by the preaching of the Gospel,
grant, we pray,
that, when the Judge comes,
whom Saint Vincent proclaimed on earth,
we may be among those blessed
to behold him reigning in heaven.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Maryella Hierholzer

Maryella Hierholzer is a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and did graduate work at Georgetown University. After concluding a career in the Washington area, she is now retired in Indiana where she is a teacher of adult and youth faith formation at her parish. She is also a volunteer at Catholic Charities in Fort Wayne.