Prudentius: The Passion of St Vincent, Martyr

Have you ever Wondered why St Vincent of Saragossa has his own major feast day? In all honesty, we don't know what inspired such devotion to this early martyr. What we do know is that he was a deacon who assisted Bishop Valerius. After defying the roman governed he was brutally tortured and martyred for his faith. Prudentius wrote this poem in honor of Vincentus, and this may be the reason he is remembered even today as a great saint and martyr of the church.

Enjoy the poem in both the Latin and English. It's a good one!


Now dazzling gleams, O wonder!
Through the dark chamber wave:
Now burst the stocks asunder,
Yawns wide the dungeon-cave.
At once Vincentius haileth
The prize of hard won fight:
Bright Hope o’er gloom prevaileth,
Tis Christ who gives the light.
Sweet flow’rets are enwreathing
Those jagged shards and stones;
Strange nectar scents are breathing
Around that house of groans.
Angels their voices blended
Close to the dying man,
And one in form more splendid
Than all the rest, began.
“Arise, thou glorious Martyr,
All anxious care dismiss,
In Heaven is sealed thy charter,
Come range with us in bliss.
“Thy race is run, and vanished
The trial pangs accurst;
By death triumphant banished,
Torture has done her worst.
“O warrior staunch and peerless,
O bravest of the brave,
The palm to thee, the fearless,
Aghast those torments gave.
“O’er fellow-sufferer bending
The Christ, whose love o’erflows,
With crown of life unending
Indemnifies his woes.
“Come, disenthralled spirit,
Leave here this fragile shell,
Come heavenward and inherit
Fit home wherein to dwell.”


Iam carceralis caecitas
splendore lucis fulgurat,
duplexque morsus stipitis
ruptis cavernis dissilit.
Agnoscit hic Vincentius
adesse, quod speraverat,
tanti laboris praemium,
Christum datorem luminis.
Cernit deinde, fragmina
iam testularum mollibus
vestire semet floribus
redolente nectar carcere.
Quin et frequentes angeli
stant ac loquuntur cominus:
quorum unus ore augustior
conpellat his dictis virum:
“Exurge, martyr inclite,
exurge securus tui,
exurge et almis coetibus
noster sodalis addere.
“Decursa iam satis tibi
paenae minacis munia,
pulcroque mortis exitu
omnis peracta est passio.
“O miles invictissime,
fortissimorum fortior,
iam te ipsa saeva et aspera
tormenta victorem tremunt.
“Spectator haec Christus deus
conpensat aevo intermino,
propriaeque conlegam crucis
larga coronat dextera.
“Pone hoc caducum vasculum
conpage textum terrea,
quod dissipatum solvitur,
et liber in caelum veni.”

St. Vincent, the protomartyr of Spain, was a deacon of the 3rd century. Together with his Bishop, Valerius of Saragossa, he was apprehended during a persecution of Dacian the governor of Spain. Valerius was banished but Vincent was subjected to fierce tortures before ultimately dying from his wounds. According to details of his death (which seem to have been considerably developed later on), his flesh was pierced with iron hooks, he was bound upon a red-hot gridiron and roasted, and he was cast into a prison and laid on a floor strewn with broken pottery. But through it all his constancy remained unmoved (leading to his jailer's conversion) and he survived until his friends were allowed to see him and prepare a bed for on which he died. The saint's fame spread rapidly throughout Gaul and Africa - we have several sermons of St. Augustine given on his feast day. His feast day is January 22.

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