Vincent of Lérins

Last updated
Saint Vincent of Lérins
Diedc.445
Lérins, Western Roman Empire (now in France)
Venerated in Catholic Church [1]
Eastern Orthodox Church [2]
Anglican Communion
Feast 24 May

Saint Vincent of Lérins (Latin : Vincentius) who died c.445, 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 semipelagianism, 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 24 May.

Gaul region of ancient Europe

Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, and parts of Northern Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, particularly the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.

Monk member of a monastic religious order

A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.

Church Fathers Group of ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers. There is no definitive list. The era of these scholars who set the theological and scholarly foundations of Christianity largely ended by AD 700.

Contents

Personal life

Saint Vincent of Lérins 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 engaged in secular pursuits; it is unclear whether these were civil or military, though the term he uses, "secularis militia", may imply the latter. He entered Lérins Abbey on Île Saint-Honorat, where under the pseudonym Peregrinus he wrote the Commonitorium , c.434, about three years after the Council of Ephesus. [5] Vincent defended calling Mary, mother of Jesus, Theotokos (God-bearer). This 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]

Toulouse Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Toulouse is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km (143 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean and 680 km (420 mi) from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France, with 466,297 inhabitants as of January 2014. In France, Toulouse is called the "Pink City".

Lupus of Troyes christian bishop, saint

Saint Lupus was an early bishop of Troyes. Around 426, the bishops in Britain requested assistance from the bishops of Gaul in dealing with Pelagianism. Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus were sent.

Lérins Abbey abbey located in Alpes-Maritimes, in France

Lérins Abbey is a Cistercian monastery on the island of Saint-Honorat, one of the Lérins Islands, on the French Riviera, with an active monastic community.

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 24 May.

Gennadius of Massilia, also known as Gennadius Scholasticus or Gennadius Massiliensis, was a 5th-century Christian priest and historian.

Theodosius II Augustus of the Eastern Roman Empire

Theodosius II, commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was the Eastern Roman Emperor for most of his life, taking the throne as an infant in 402 and ruling as the Eastern Empire's sole emperor after the death of his father Arcadius in 408. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople. He also presided over the outbreak of two great Christological controversies, Nestorianism and Eutychianism.

Valentinian III Augustus of the western roman empire

Valentinian III was Western Roman Emperor from 425 to 455. His reign was marked by the ongoing collapse of the Western Empire.

Commonitory

Vincent wrote his Commonitory to provide himself with a general rule to distinguish Catholic truth from heresy, committing it to writing as a reference. 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)

The Commonitorium or Commonitory is a 5th-century Christian treatise written after the council of Ephesus under the pseudonym "Peregrinus" and attributed to Vincent of Lérins. 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."

Heresy belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs

Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.

Gerardus Vossius Dutch classical scholar

Gerrit Janszoon Vos, often known by his Latin name Gerardus Vossius, was a Dutch classical scholar and theologian.

Semipelagianism

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]

Semipelagianism is a Christian theological and soteriological school of thought on salvation; that is, the means by which humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. Semipelagian thought stands in contrast to the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation, which had been dismissed as heresy. Semipelagianism in its original form was developed as a compromise between Pelagianism and the teaching of Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine, who taught that people cannot come to God without the grace of God. In semipelagian thought, therefore, a distinction is made between the beginning of faith and the increase of faith. Semipelagian thought teaches that the latter half – growing in faith – is the work of God, while the beginning of faith is an act of free will, with grace supervening only later. It too was labeled heresy by the Western Church at the Second Council of Orange in 529.

Pelagianism, also called Pelagian heresy, is the Christian theological position that the original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid or assistance. This theological theory is named after the British monk Pelagius, although he denied, at least at some point in his life, many of the doctrines associated with his name. Pelagius taught human will, as created with its abilities by God, was sufficient to live a sinless life, although he believed God's grace assisted every good work. Pelagianism has come to be identified with the view human beings can earn salvation by their own efforts.

Augustine wrote of prevenient grace, and expanded to a discussion of predestination. 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.

Prevenient grace is a Christian theological concept rooted in Arminian theology, though it appeared earlier in Catholic theology. It is divine grace that precedes human decision. In other words, God will start showing love to that individual at a certain point in his lifetime.

Predestination Theological doctrine

Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the "paradox of free will", whereby God's omniscience seems incompatible with human free will. In this usage, predestination can be regarded as a form of religious determinism; and usually predeterminism.

John Cassian Christian monk and theologian

John Cassian, also known as John the Ascetic and John Cassian the Roman, was a Christian monk and theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern churches for his mystical writings. Cassian is noted for his role in bringing the ideas and practices of Christian monasticism to the early medieval West.

Vincent was suspected of Semipelagianism but whether he actually held that doctrine is not clear as it is not found in the 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 the 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 "Semiaugustinian" rather than Semipelagian.

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 the Commonitorium and its animus is very similar to the Commonitorium sections 70 and 86, making it possible that both were written by the same author. [5]

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References

  1. 24 May Archived 2011-10-12 at the Wayback Machine . The Roman Martyrology.
  2. Great Synaxaristes: (in Greek) Ὁ Ὅσιος Βικέντιος τῶν Λερίνων. 24 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  3. 1 2 http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2006
  4. 1 2 "St. Vincent of Lérins", St. Vincent of Lérins Orthodox Church, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  5. 1 2 PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Ghellinck, Joseph de (1912). "St. Vincent of Lérins". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). 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 (eds.). 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 via Wikisource.
  9. 1 2 3 PD-icon.svg 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. PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Pohle, Joseph (1912). "Semipelagianism". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 13. New York: Robert Appleton.

Further reading