St. Vincent Ferrer was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1357. His parents raised him in the faith, and ensured that he always cared for the poor. When he was 18, Vincent joined the Dominicans.
As a member of the Order of Preachers, Vincent committed much of the Bible to memory, and studied the Church Fathers and philosophy. By the age of 28, he was well-known for his preaching and his gift of prophecy. A representative of Pope Clement VII chose Vincent to accompany him to France and preach.
Although his focus was spreading the Gospel, Vincent became involved in the political intrigues in France, when two rival claimants to the papacy emerged, one in Rome, and one in Avignon. Vincent tried to convince the pope in Avignon to end the schism. The pope in Rome, Benedict, who was considered pope in Spain and France, sought to honor Vincent by making him a bishop. Vincent rejected this, having no wish to advance, and seeing many corrupt bishops, distracted from their work by luxury.
Vincent committed to missionary work, preaching in the town between Avignon and his hometown. He denounced greed, blasphemy, sexual immorality, and disregard for faith, drawing crowds of thousands, and converting many. Vincent lived simply, abstaining from meat, sleeping on straw, and accepting no help except what he needed for basic survival.
For 20 years, Vincent and his group of friars preached across Italy, Spain, and France. When they went into other parts of Europe, including Germany and the Mediterranean, those who heard Vincent testified that they understood every word, even though they had no common language.
St. Vincent died on April 5, 1419, at age 62. He was canonized in 1455, and has become the namesake of a traditional Catholic community, the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer.