Luke 12: 4-12
Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon and Martyr, 304
This is an unusual week. Three days in a row, in the calendar, we commemorate some of the earliest martyr saints of the Church: Fabian, Agnes, Cecilia, and now Vincent, all martyred in some of the earliest waves of persecution against the Church.
It’s easy, from a distance of about 1800 years to look back at these figures and dismiss them as irrelevant to faithful Christian living in the early decades of this century. Our challenges living as Christians in an age of pandemic, are very different than theirs. Yet, by their feasts, especially since they happen three days in a row, they invite us to consider, not simply their deaths, but their lives, and the invitation they make to us today.
Vincent was a deacon of Spain, and the assistant of the saintly bishop, Valerius. Both of them were caught up in the persecution of early Christians ordered by the Emperor. Already, Valerius was an old man, but more significantly, tradition tells is that he had a serious speech impediment, and Vincent would often preach for him. The story goes that when they were called before the governor, Vincent said to the bishop, Father, if you order me, I will speak. To which Valerius responded, Son, I committed you to dispense the word of God, so I now charge you to answer in vindication of the faith which we defend. With those words, Vincent holding nothing back, proceeded to offer a defence of the Christian faith boldly and with exuberance.