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St Vincent of Saragossa
(northern Spain) Martyr (entered heaven in 304)
I only have a few precious minutes to write (another series of interrogations begins today – they think they found some new “evidence” against me, which is hardly likely, since I have done nothing they accuse of me… the farce plays on…), but I wanted to respond to your last letter right away. There is nothing about putting back your efforts in the face of opposition and hardship! My dearest of nieces, Christians THRIVE under difficulties – both individually and as groups. You are a senior, you have only a few more months there on campus, for the sake of the future students, don’t let up on your efforts, don’t waste the little time that remains to you! Take a cue from today’s saint.
Vincent was but a deacon, taken in the great clergy persecutions by the cruel governor Dacian. When he refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, they alternately threatened and cajoled him to compromise his faith, but nothing could move him. Finally, they stretched him out on the rack and tore his flesh with iron hooks. He remained – miraculously – completely unperturbed, and rebuked the poor executioners for slacking off in the duties. Dacian got madder then, and ordered him to be roasted on the “questio legitima,” a horrid iron grill, with spikes, made red hot by being suspended over a fire. They laid the saint full length upon the iron and rubbed his wounds with huge amounts of salt (which the fire sent deeper into his flesh), but the more he suffered, the stronger and more vigorous he seemed to be. The hotter the fire grew, the more peaceful and measured was his countenance and discourse. The torturers began to waver in their paganism at such a spectacle and the governor, at wit’s end, had Vincent thrown into prison, where his legs were locked in wooden stocks, and the floor was strewn with sharp shards of pottery. Two more guards were converted that night when they saw angelic light emanating from the cell and peeked in to find the saint walking around freely and painlessly. Dacian didn’t know what to do but allowed his friends (lay Christians) to take him to a less disagreeable prison and tend his wounds. When they laid him on a comfortable bed in order to treat him, he quietly closed his eyes and died.
The more he suffered, the more heroically he bore witness. Make him your special patron for your remaining time at school, my beloved niece, and you won’t regret it (neither will your fellow Catholics there, who desperately need your faith-filled example and leadership). Gotta go. Ciao. Uncle Eddy.