St Vincent Ferrer
St Vincent Ferrer is a well-known Dominican friar who was known for preaching penance.
He was born at Valencia in 1350 and entered the Dominican Order in 1367. He was sent to Barcelona to pursue his studies and later to Toulouse.
He believed strongly that the Avignon popes had legitimate claim at a time when there were at least two other men claiming to be the Successor of Peter. Cardinal Pedro de Luna (later [antipope] Benedict XIII) of the Court of Aragon took St Vincent under his wing as he tried to win the obedience of King Peter IV to the Avignon papacy.
St Vincent was appointed by Benedict as confessor and Apostolic Penitentiary. He zealously preached penance and repentance as he travelled across Europe, preparing people for the Judgement. He was a very popular and successful preacher, having to preach outdoors in squares because of the number who flocked to him. He is known for having converted many heretics, including a rabbi in Valladolid, who later became the Bishop Paul of Burgos. Despite being only able to speak Limousine, the dialect of Valencia, he was able to reach communicate the truth of the Gospel to all people he met; Nicholas Clemangis, a doctor of the University of Paris, testified that St Vincent had the gift of tongues.
He was a Dominican through and through. He cherished study, prayer, and preaching, which are at the heart of the Dominican charism. In his Treatise on a Spiritual Life he says:
Study was enveloped by prayer; and this study and prayer enabled him to preach effectively to the multitudes he encountered. He serves as a powerful reminder to Dominicans and others that our study without prayer runs greater risk of inflating our egos rather than increasing our state of holiness.