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Saint Vincent of Lérins (died c. 445CE) (in Latin, Vincentius) was a Gallic monk and author of early Christian writings. One example was the Commonitorium, c. 434, which offers guidance in the orthodox teaching of Christianity. A proponent of Semi-Pelagianism, he opposed the Augustinian model of Grace and was probably the recipient of Prosper of Aquitaine's Responsiones ad Capitula Objectionum Vincentianarum.[3] His feast day is celebrated on May 24.

Saint Vincent of Lérins
Died c. 445
Lérins, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church[1]
Eastern Orthodox Church[2]
Anglican Communion
Feast 24 May

Contents

Personal lifeEdit

Vincent was born in Toulouse, Gaul,[4] to a noble family, and is believed to be the brother of St. Lupus of Troyes.[3] In his early life he had been engaged in secular pursuits (unclear as to whether these were civil or military, though the term he uses, "secularis militia", might possibly imply the latter). He entered Lérins Abbey on Île Saint-Honorat, where under the pseudonym Peregrinus he wrote Commonitorium, c. 434. About three years after the Council of Ephesus.[5] Vincent defended calling Mary, mother of Jesus, Theotokos ("God-bearer") which opposed the teachings of Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople, which were condemned by the Council of Ephesus.[4] Eucherius of Lyon called him a "conspicuously eloquent and knowledgeable" holy man.[6]

Gennadius of Massilia wrote that Vincent died during the reign of Roman Emperor Theodosius II in the East and Valentinian III in the West. Therefore, his death must have occurred in or before the year 450. His relics are preserved at Lérins.[7].

Caesar Baronius included his name in the Roman Martyrology but Louis-Sébastien Le Nain de Tillemont doubted whether there was sufficient reason. He is commemorated on the 24th of May.

CommonitoryEdit

Vincent wrote his Commonitory to provide himself with a general rule to distinguish Catholic truth from heresy. He commits what he has learned, he added, to writing, for use as a reference, commonitory, or remembrancer, to refresh his memory. It is known for Vincent's famous maxim: "Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all."[8](p132)[9](p10) The currently accepted idea that Vincent was a semipelagian is attributed to a 17th-century Protestant theologian, Gerardus Vossius, and developed in the 17th century by Cardinal Henry Noris.[9](xxii) Evidence of Vincent's semipelagianism, according to Reginald Moxon, is Vincent's, "great vehemence against" the doctrines of Augustine of Hippo in Commonitory.[9](xxvii)

Semi-pelagianismEdit

Semipelagianism was a doctrine of grace advocated by monks in and around Marseilles in Southern Gaul after 428. It aimed at a compromise between the two extremes of Pelagianism and Augustinism, and was condemned of heresy at the Second Council of Orange in 529 CE after more than a century of disputes.[10]

Augustine wrote of prevenient grace, and expanded to a discussion of pre-destination. A number of monastic communities took exception to the latter because it seemed to nullify the value of asceticism practiced under their Rules. John Cassian felt that Augustine's stress on predestination ruled out any need for human cooperation or consent.

Vincent was suspected of semipelagianism but whether he actually held that doctrine is not clear as it is not found in Commonitorium. But it is probable that his sympathies were with those who held it. Considering that the monks of the Lérins Islands -- like the general body of clergy of Southern Gaul -- were Semipelagians, it is not surprising that Vincent was suspected of Semipelagianism. It is also possible that Vincent held to a position closer to the Eastern Orthodox position of today, which they claim to have been virtually universal until the time of Augustine, and which may have been interpreted as semipelagian by Augustine's followers.

Vincent upheld tradition and seemed to have objected to much of Augustine's work as "new" theology. He shared Cassian's reservations about Augustine's views on the role of grace. In Commonitorium, he listed theologians and teachers who, in his view, had made significant contributions to the defense and spreading of the Gospel; he omitted Augustine from that list. Some commentators have viewed Cassian and Vincent as "semi-Augustinian" rather than semi-Pelagian.

It is a matter of academic debate whether Vincent is the author of the "Objectiones Vincentianae", a collection of sixteen inferences allegedly deduced from Augustine's writings, which is lost and only known through Prosper of Aquitaine's rejoinder, "Responsiones ad capitula objectionum Vincentianarum". It is dated close to the time of Commonitorium and its animus is very similar to Commonitorium sections 70 and 86 making it possible that both were written by the same author.[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ May 24. The Roman Martyrology.
  2. ^ Great Synaxaristes: (in Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Βικέντιος τῶν Λερίνων. 24 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  3. ^ a b http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2006
  4. ^ a b "St. Vincent of Lérins", St. Vincent of Lérins Orthodox Church, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  5. ^ a b   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGhellinck, Joseph de (1912). "St. Vincent of Lérins". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 15. New York: Robert Appleton. 
  6. ^ "St. Vincent of Lérins", New Advent Catholic encyclopedia
  7. ^ Butler, Alban. The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, Vol.V, by the Rev. Alban Butler, D. & J. Sadlier, & Company, (1864)
  8. ^ Vincent of Lérins (1894). "  The Commonitory of Vincent of Lérins". In Schaff, Philip; Wace, Henry. A select library of the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers of the Christian Church. 2. 11. Translated by Heurtley, Charles A. (American ed.). Buffalo: Christian Literature. Wikisource. 
  9. ^ a b c   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a work now in the public domain: Vincent of Lérins (1915). Moxon, Reginald S., ed. Commonitorium of Vincentius of Lerins. Cambridge patristic texts (in Latin and English). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. OCLC 635499104.  Has good notes.
  10. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPohle, Joseph (1912). "Semipelagianism". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 13. New York: Robert Appleton. 

Further readingEdit

  • Thomas G. Guarino, Vincent of Lerins and the Development of Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

External linksEdit