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Patron Saint of Vintners . Oenophiles
. Grape Growers . Vinegar Makers
. Sailors . Ravens . Portugal
Ranked with Saints Stephen and Lawrence as one of the foremost deacons of the early Church, Vincent was born in Huesca, Spain, to devout parents, Euthicius and Enola. Educated by Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, he was a good student and was eventually ordained and commissioned to preach throughout the diocese.
During Maximian’s persecutions both he and the bishop were arrested and imprisoned in Valencia. Valerius was exiled, but Vincent endured terrible tortures because he resisted turning over his church’s sacred writings and refused to renounce his faith. Vincent’s spirit and courage were “invincible” he even converted the prison warden — but his body finally succumbed and he became Spain’s first martyr (c.305). According to legend, ravens defended St. Vincent’s body from vultures until the tide took it out to sea, eventually coming to shore again where it was found and buried by a pious widow.
His fame spread rapidly throughout Gaul and Africa, and by medieval times St. Vincent had been adopted as a patron saint of winemakers and vineyard workers — perhaps because they identified the tribulations of wine growing with the tortures suffered by St. Vincent, but more likely simply because “vin” is French for “wine” (vinum in Latin).
His patronage of sailors is apparently because of his ™invincibility∫ and his body being thrown out to sea. The many “St. Vincent” place-names in southern Europe are a remnant of his widespread devotion and he is still honored in January with celebrations (including wine tastings), prayers, weather-prediction ceremonies and parades.
Vincent is depicted in stained glass windows of numerous churches, including the cathedrals of Chartres and Bourges. Note: There are other, later, St. Vincents (e.g., Ferrar, DePaul, Pallotti) who are sometimes confused with Vincent of Saragossa.
To add to the confusion, St. Vincent Pallotti’s feast day is also January 22.
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For interesting connections to St. Vincent, see our Pin Board: