St. Vincent of Lerins
Our Righteous Father Vincent of Lérins,
Whom the holy Church celebrates on May 24.
Saint Vincent was born in Toulouse in Gaul; he was the brother of Saint Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, who was a companion of Saint Germanus of Auxerre. Saint Vincent was first a soldier, then left the world to become a monk of the renowned monastery of Lérins, where he was also ordained priest. He is known for his Commonitorium, which he wrote as an aid to distinguish the true teachings of the Church from the confusions of heretics; his most memorable saying is that all Christians must follow that Faith which has been believed "everywhere, always, and by all." He wrote the Commonitorium about 434, three years after the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus, which he mentions in the Commonitorium, and defends calling the holy Virgin Theotokos, "she who gave birth to God," in opposition to the teachings of Nestorius which were condemned at the Third Council.
Without identifying by name Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Saint Vincent condemns his doctrine of grace and predestination, calling it heresy to teach of "a certain great and special and altogether personal grace of God [which is given to the predestined elect] without any effort, without any industry, even though they neither ask, nor seek, nor knock" (Commonitorium, ch. XXVI). See also Saint John Cassian, whose day is February 29th: Saint John Cassian wrote his refutations before, and Saint Vincent after, the condemnation of Nestorius at the Third Council in 431, and the death of Augustine in 430. Saint Vincent reposed in peace about the year 445.
Today in the Holy Orthodox Church (May 24th) we commemorate the holy, righteous Father Vincent of Lérins. Vincent was born in Gaul sometime in the late fourth century. He abandoned a career in the Roman military to become a monk at the great Monastery of Lérins, located on a small island (today known as Isle Saint-Honorat) just off the Mediterranean coast from the modern city of Cannes.
Saint Vincent is remembered today because of his work "Commonitorium." This work is a compendium of rules by which a believer may distinguish theological truth from error. The title "Commonitorium" means that the work is intended as a memory aid, a work that one may consult quickly for the purpose of refreshing one's memory, as the Saint himself notes in his introductory comments. In his great work, the Saint tells us that we may discover the truth first through reading Holy Scripture, for that is the basis of everything. Yet, he points out men may differ in their interpretation of Holy Scripture. How may we know which interpretation is the correct one? We know by consulting the writings of authorities within the Church, the great Saints and Church Fathers, and this we do carefully. Vincent offers three tests of accurate, Orthodox scripture interpretation:
universality, meaning the entire Church adheres to the teaching;
antiquity, meaning the Ecumenical Councils determined the teaching to be Orthodox;
and consent, meaning that bishops harmoniously consulting one another agree the teaching is true.
Vincent died before the close of the year 456. His relics are preserved at Lérins.
With wisdom hast thou made plain to all the Orthodox Faith
as that which alone hath been believed and honored by all men, always and everywhere,
also showing heresy to be innovation,
groundless and unstable as a gust in a tempest.
O Vincent, thine invincible prayers shelter the Church of God.
Troparion of St. Vincent
We bring to you our honor Saint Vincent of Lérins.
You set the standard by which we now are blessed.
The faith of old, and that of Divine assent; that which always and everywhere received consent.
These ancient truths revealed to us in Scripture the faith you received to us you impart.
We humbly beg you, O holy man of God, your intercessions as we seek the path you trod.