Vincent the Deacon’s Silent Ordeal

Saint Vincent the Deacon (+304), who suffered grievous tortures witnessing to his Catholic faith under the Diocletian persecution (as did yesterday’s Saint Agnes) is a providential saint for this sombre anniversary of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision of the United States of America which legalized abortion across the nation. But we may also rejoice, that the infamous decision has now been struck down, we may suppose in part through the intercession of this great martyr.

Vincent spent most of his life in Saragossa, in the northeast of Spain, which was then a Roman province. He was ordained a deacon, preaching, catechizing, administering alms. When the Emperor Diocletian decided to enforce spiritual unity on the empire, one of a pagan variety, persecution was inevitable. Vincent and his bishop were cast into prison, being offered release if the deacon would cast the Holy Scriptures into the fire. Vincent refused so boldly and persuasively, that the pagan governor had him subject to the most painful of tortures, racking him, his flesh torn by hooks, salt rubbed in the gaping wounds, burned alive on a red-hot gridiron, and left to die in a dank prison cell. His body was cast into the sea, but retrieved by his fellow Christians – no persecution ever gets everyone – and, after some travail during the Islamic conquest of Spain, now rests in the Lisbon cathedral, awaiting the resurrection.

The saint’s sufferings are – perhaps by God’s all-seeing providence – not dissimilar to those of the unborn killed by abortion who have their all-too-brief lives snuffed out by their own sufferings, which, like Vincent’s, are vicarious. They have no personal sin, and so may be likened to martyrs, their blood crying out to heaven.

And, like Vincent, they suffer silently. In fact, his jailer was so impressed by the saint’s quiet resolve and equanimity during his ordeal that he converted on the spot.

So too may we always convert, undergoing that metanoia – repentance of heart and mind – for which Christ calls in yesterday’s Gospel, turning our minds and hearts to Him each day, to accept our own much milder sufferings, for our own sins, and those of the world. As you may read in the accompanying post on Jane Roe and Bernard Nathanson, there is hope for each one of us, by the grace of the good God. May we meet one day merrily in heaven, when the travails of this earthly pilgrimage will seem but a distant memory.

In the meantime, keep up the good fight of the Faith, for love, and for life!

Saint Vincent, ora pro nobis!