Tomorrow is the memorial of the martyr and deacon St. Vincent. Most of what we know about this deacon comes from the poet Prudentius. St. Augustine delivered a sermon about the deacon Vincent and drew from the Acts Vincent in doing so. What we know for sure about this illustrious deacon is fairly limited, but with certainty we know his name and the place where he was buried.
Vincent was ordained by St. Valerius of Saragossa in Spain. The Church was still being persecuted, and the Roman emperors published edicts against all the clergy in 303. Thus, Vincent and his bishop were put in prison in Valencia and subjected to hunger and torture. Since Valerius had a speech impediment, the deacon Vincent spoke for them both which angered the Roman governor, Dacian. Valerius was thus sent into exile but Vincent remained and was subjected to severe torture which, paradoxically, resulted in Dacian falling apart. Vincent refused to surrender the Scriptures to the Dacian. Vincent’s torturers began to lose control of themselves. He converted his jailer. Dacian continued his emotional breakdown. Finally, Dacian ordered that Vincent be given some rest, and when his friends came to put him to bed, Vincent died.
According to legend, after being martyred, ravens protected St. Vincent’s body from being devoured by vultures. His body was taken to what is now known as Cape St. Vincent and a shrine was erected over his grave.
St. Vincent’s story is a good one for all of us deacons to remember. He kept custody of the Word of God entrusted to him at his ordination. He willingly suffered being misunderstood and tortured for his office and his faith. His fidelity to his bishop and the Church converted the hardest of hearts and defeated evil.
St. Vincent of Saragossa, pray for all of us deacons!