About the Commemoration
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Continues
Vincent, the most celebrated of Spanish martyrs, is for the Church in Spain what Stephen was for Jerusalem and Lawrence was for Rome. He was deacon of the Church in Saragossa and was executed in the persecution under Diocletian at Valencia in 304. Further trustworthy details are lacking. He is said to have regularly preached and taught on behalf of his bishop Valerius, who suffered from a severe stammer. The governor sent them both to prison for their firm adherence to the Christian faith, and while Valerius was exiled, Vincent was sentenced to torture and death. Prudentius wrote a hymn in his praise telling of a martyr who underwent imprisonment, semi-starvation, being clamped in stocks, racked, grilled (like Lawrence). Such imaginative pictures of his stoic endurance of torture spread his fame rapidly and far, as St. Augustine testifies. Several churches in England were dedicated to his honor in the Middle Ages. Vincent is on the General Roman Calendar, the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer, and in the Methodist For All the Saints. He was on Löhe’s calendar (1868) and the 1962 German Calendar of Names.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
From a sermon by St. Augustine
“He has granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well.” [Phil. 1:29]
Vincent received both these gifts and preserved them both. For how could he have them if he had not received them? And he showed his faith in what he said, his endurance in what he suffered.
No one ought to rely on one’s own feelings when speaking out, nor be confident in personal strength when undergoing temptation. For whenever we speak as wisely as we should, our wisdom must come from God, and whenever we endure evils courageously, our patience must come from him.
Remember how Christ our Lord in the Gospel exhorted his disciples. He is the king of martyrs equipping his troops with spiritual armament, telling them of battles ahead, offering them support, and promising them their reward. He said to his disciples, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
There is no need to wonder then, dearly beloved, that Vincent conquered in him who conquered the world. He said, “In the world you will face persecution, but to face persecution is not to be overcome, and to be attacked is not to be conquered. Against Christ’s army the world arrays a twofold battle line. It offers temptation to lead us astray; it strikes terror into us to break our spirit. Do not cling to your own pleasures, and do not fear the cruelty of others; then the world is conquered. At both of these approaches Christ rushes to our aid, and the Christian is not conquered. If you were to consider in Vincent’s martyrdom only human endurance, then his act is unbelievable from the outset. But recognize that power is from God, and then Vincent ceases to be a source of wonder.
Such savagery was being vented upon the martyr’s body while such serenity issued from his lips; such harsh cruelties were being inflicted on his limbs while such assurance rang out in his words, that we should think that, by some miracle, as Vincent suffered, one person was speaking while another was being tortured. And this was in fact true; another person was speaking. Christ in the Gospel promised this to those who were to be his witnesses, to those whom he was preparing for contests of this kind. For he said, “Do not worry about what you are to say; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” [Matt. 10:19-20] Thus it was Vincent’s body that suffered, but the Spirit who spoke. And at his voice, impiety was not only vanquished but human frailty was given consolation.
Augustine, Sermon 276, 1-2, trans. PHP, based on A Short Breviary by the monks of St. John’s Abbey and the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
Eternal God, you gave your deacon Vincent the courage to endure torture and death for the gospel: Fill us with your Spirit to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith, and strengthen us in your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
PHP, RS + LFF
Readings: Psalm 31:1-5 or 116:10-17; Revelation 7:13-17; Luke 12:4-12
Hymn of the Day: “Lord Christ, when first you came to earth” (H82 598, LBW 421, ELW 727)
Prayers: For the Church in Spain, its bishops, clergy, and people; For all deacons and deaconesses; For freedom from fear; For a will to embrace our calling to serve the world; For the unity of the church; For Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed Churches.
Preface: A Saint (3)