Saint Vincent of Saragossa
Deacon and Martyr
Saint Vincent was archdeacon of the church at Saragossa, Spain. Valerian, the bishop, was prevented from preaching by a speech impediment, and named Vincent to preach in his stead. He answered in the bishop’s name when, during the persecution of Diocletian, both were brought before Dacian, the presiding officer. When the bishop was sent into banishment, Vincent was retained, to suffer and to die.
First he was stretched on the rack; and when he was almost torn asunder, Dacian asked him in mockery how he fared now. Vincent answered, with joy on his countenance, that he had always prayed to be as he was then. It was in vain that Dacian struck the executioners and goaded them on in their savage work. The martyr’s flesh was torn with hooks; he was bound to a chair of red-hot iron; lard and salt were rubbed into his wounds; and amid all this he kept his eyes raised to heaven, and remained unmoved.
The holy martyr was cast into a solitary dungeon, his feet placed in the stocks; but the Angels of Christ illuminated the darkness, and assured Vincent that he was near his triumph. His wounds were now ordered to be tended, to prepare him for fresh torments, and the faithful were permitted to gaze on his mangled body. They came in troops, kissed his wounds and carried away as relics, cloths colored with his blood. Before the tortures could resume, Saint Vincent’s hour came, and he breathed forth his soul in peace.
Even the dead bodies of the Saints are precious in the sight of God, and the hand of iniquity cannot touch them. A raven guarded the body of Vincent where it lay flung upon the earth. When it was sunk out at sea, the waves cast it ashore; and his relics are preserved to this day in the Augustinian monastery at Lisbon, for the consolation of the Church of Christ.
Reflection. Do you wish to be at peace amid suffering and temptation? Then make it your principal endeavor to grow in habits of prayer and in union with Christ. Have confidence in Him. He will make you victorious over your spiritual enemies and over yourself. He will enlighten your darkness and sweeten your sufferings, and in your solitude and desolation He will draw near to you with His holy Angels.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).