January 22: Vincent, Deacon of Saragossa and Martyr, 304

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About this Commemoration

Vincent has been called the protomartyr of Spain. Little is known about the actual events surrounding his life, other than his name, his order of ministry, and the place and time of his martyrdom. He was a native of Huesca, in northeastern Spain, and was ordained deacon byValerius, Bishop of Saragossa. In the early years of the fourth century, the fervent Christian community in Spain fell victim to a persecution ordered by the Roman emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Dacian, governor of Spain, arrested Valerius and his deacon Vincent, and had them imprisoned at Valencia.

According to one legend, Valerius had a speech impediment, and Vincent was often called upon to preach for him. When the two prisoners were challenged to renounce their faith, amid threats of torture and death, Vincent said to his bishop, “Father, if you order me, I will speak.” Valerius is said to have replied, “Son, as I committed you to dispense the word of God, so I now charge you to answer in vindication of the faith which we defend.” The young deacon then told the governor that he and his bishop had no intention of betraying the true God. The vehemence and enthusiasm of Vincent’s defense showed no caution in his defiance of the judges, and Dacian’s fury was increased by this exuberance in Christian witness. Valerius was exiled, but the angry Dacian ordered that Vincent be tortured.

Although the accounts of his martyrdom have been heavily embellished by early Christian poets, Augustine of Hippo writes that Vincent’s unshakeable faith enabled him to endure grotesque punishments and, finally, death.

Records of the transfer and present whereabouts of Vincent’s relics are of questionable authenticity. We are certain, however, that his cult spread rapidly throughout early Christendom and that he was venerated as a bold and outspoken witness to the truth of the living Christ.


i Almighty God, whose deacon Vincent, upheld by thee,was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us, we beseech thee, to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii Almighty God, your deacon Vincent, upheld by you,was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Jeremiah 26:12–15

Revelation 7:13–17

Luke 12:4–12



Preface of  a Saint (3)

Text from Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.


We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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12 thoughts on “January 22: Vincent, Deacon of Saragossa and Martyr, 304

  1. Collect. Ever since the 1st time this collect appeared in an edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts I have thought that the collect should avoid the word ‘invincible’. Vincent, invincible? It seems more than a coincidence that this word (used no where else in a collect) should be used here. I think it a suitable synonym should be found.

    New Hebrew reading: This seems to be a very appropriate reading for Vincent.

  2. I don’t get the spelling “Saragossa”. I’ve been there and it’s spelled “Zaragoza”. Beautiful cathedral.

    • The “s” spelling is English. There are many foreign cities where there are English versions: Munich, Vienna, Warsaw, Brussels, Geneva, Rome–to name a few.

  3. Here again we have an almost legendary figure about whose life little is known. As a strong supporter of the diaconate as a distinct and separate order of ordained ministry, there’s no way I would suggest putting this commemoration on the “cut list”, but it has little besides tradition to recommend it to contemporary Episcopalians, IMHO.

    I suggest that the title read “Vincent of Saragossa” and the subtitle simply read “Martyr”.

    Line 4, first paragraph: add “in the 3rd. Century” after “Spain”.

    Line 7, second paragraph: that Vincent was “young” is probable, but speculative, and also unnecessary.

    • I should have written “born in the 3rd Century”. (The period after “3rd” isn’t needed).

      From my comments, you’ll all know that i consider birth date (to the extent known, or at least an estimate), death date, and places in both instances, are significant in any biography.

      I almost wrote “probably in the second half of the 3rd Century”, but I didn’t feel sure of that. As a linear thinker, I prefer the birth story to be at the start, and the death story at the end, but I try to make my suggestions ones that can be implemented with minimal rewriting. In this instance, it wasn’t easy to add the birth details earlier without “major surgery”.

      I also dislike the bios that seem to have been written by someone trained as a headline writer for newspapers. An example of this is what is proposed for William Passavant (Jan. 3). I believe we should be given the facts of a life, before any essential commentary and interpretation.

  4. I have a really hard time thinking that “contemporary Episcopalians” are a specific set of people, one of whose characteristics is that they are isolated in time and space from other Christians, and that they are to be protected from any expansion or development of their interests on the grounds that they just don’t care.

  5. “INVINCIBLE VINCENT” — In don’t see anything wrong with the use of the word “invincible,” per se, but I do agree there’s less than subtle word play in it. Vincent wasn’t “overcome” by the tortures of martyrdom — so factually, at least, he wasn’t “vince’d” — but maybe they just didn’t try the right tortures (in which case he wouldn’t be categorically “in-vincible”). We’d have to know it was IMPOSSIBLE for him to be overcome under EVERY CONCEIVABLE circumstance in order to be fully justified in attributing absolute invincibility to him. Maybe the facts are just uncon-vincing.
    I liked everything about today’s commemoration including the readings (which were as close to brilliant selections as I expect any can get!). I liked the write-up, and I even liked the collect. I found the whole commemoration strengthening and inspiring.
    One point about the collect overlaps with the “invincible” thing: I wondered about redundancy in attributing “invincible” faith AND “steadfast” faith to Vincent — since there didn’t seem to be a discernable distinction in what they reflected in Vincent’s story. Each seemed a way of saying simply, “he didn’t give in.” There’s no need to say it twice
    — so remove one. “Steadfast” gets my vote of confidence — (“Strengthen us to endure all adversity with [-invincible and] steadfast faith….”) A petition asking for individual invincibility seems delusional, grandiose and narcissistic.
    That Vincent was a deacon contributes to the importance of the commemoration. Diaconate focuses something at the heart of the ordained diaconal ethos, PLUS it touches all the baptized (the church as a whole) as we are called to be led in that area of service by the ordained diaconate. (Which is something finally being affirmed after centuries of neglect: Luther never even thought about of writing on “The Diaconate of All Believers”!) Then, too, our calendar is veritably overrun by the number of bishops it highlights, followed by a voluminous number of priests. Monastics may be present in numbers we don’t have to be embarrassed by, given that monasticism is a path which relatively Christians typically choose, but the diaconate and the laity are severely underrepresented in LFF. Our calendar should reflect the holiness of the Christian life for (and of) any and all Christians, not just specific sub-groups. Thank God HWHM is working to redress that,– to some extent at least. So Vincent’s being a deacon offers nuances of inspiration I find quite important.
    The gentle exchange, today, about whether some of the recent commemorations (of martyrs, especially,) is of interest to 21st century people, I find significant, also. My two-cent contribution is that while the Christian vision of the fullness of life is an important part of what the gospel opens, offers, invites, and calls us to receive and to share, I fear eschatology is a theological weak spot for us as a church. We know enough, as a church, not to jump on harebrained vogues like the raptures, or reading current events into pseudo-“prophecy”, — but we haven’t been very good at highlighting a mature eschatology for our general spiritual nurture and maturation on the whole. So, getting back to Vincent and current theological needs, I don’t see him or the kind of story he embodies as being passé but I do see us (at this point in our communal religious and theological thinking) as being ill equipped to appropriate the importance of martyrdom, or indeed eternal life, (except in the most rudimentary, immature, and cartoon-like caricatures) in terms of God’s “end-game” and in terms our whole integrated Christian faith and life. Our pragmatic, earthly focus (a good thing) and institutional focus (a mixed blessing) doesn’t just overshadow, but obliterates, the bigger picture of the gospel about life in its fullness. As a result, we don’t quite know what to do with a Vincent (invincible or not).

    • I try to do my editing before pushing the “Post Comment” button, but discovering my errors always happens “post-comment.” I just noticed I somehow eliminated the word “few” in the following: : “monasticism is a path which relatively FEW Christians typically choose…” (Sorry.) Mea culpa.

  6. Given that the inspired authors/divine Author of the holy Scriptures are/is inordinately fond of puns (most of them piously concealed by our translation committees), I rather like the invincible Vincent’s collect. However, I have always harbored the suspicion that he was added to the calendar primarily to correct a perceived dearth of deacons and sparsity of Spaniards, compared to a bumper crop of bishops, a plentitude of priests, throngs of theologians, and an ample supply of Anglo-Saxons. Since we have no reliable record of Vincent’s life and ministry, it’s hard to answer little Peterkin’s question with respect to why this particular martyr should be honored and how he might be emulated. Similarly, in my darker moments, I suspect the only reason Agnes got in was to assuage primatal pallium envy, as LFF omitted most her similarly sketchily documented colleagues (George, Cecilia, Lucy, etc.). That said, the antiquarian in me is glad that Vincent and Agnes’ places in the calendar are beyond the reach of our more pragmatic collaborators. And I pray that George, Cecilia, and Lucy will survive skeptical scrutiny to join them.

  7. As an admiror of your great work of hagiography I want to recommend you a very complete blog about the legend , art and history of Saint Vincent of Saragossa as a very important saint in Spain in fourth century, developed by Via Vicentius . These webs are written in Spanish by Via Vicentius but it can be easily translated to english or any other language with the translator tool that the web includes. It would be great if you visit the web for public knowledge of our work .Thanks for your attention.


    Salvador Raga

    Very complete web about pilgrim way from Huesca to Valencia for walkers and cyclists of Saint Vincent of Saragossa as a very important saint in Spain in fourth century, developed by Via Vicentius . It includes maps , history , images and many interesting informations concerning to the martyr saint.

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