See this online text:
- The Commonitory of Vincent of Lérins, For the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith Against the Profane Novelties of all Heresies, translated by Rev. C. A. Heurtley, D.D., in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Second Series, translated into English with Prolegomena and Explanatory Notes, edited by Professor Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Volume XI: Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian (Edinburgh: T&T Clark; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company). Also called the Commonitorium of Saint Vincent of Lerins.
- The printed text of the translation may be read online at Wikisource, at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and at Bible Hub. [N.B., Please see our Notes below.]
- The version revised and edited by Kevin Knight may be read online on this page at the library of the works of The Fathers of the Church of New Advent; and in 5 parts through this page of Una Voce Canada: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.
- One may also see the excellent introductory essay by Dr. Bryan Cross, “The Commonitory of St. Vincent of Lérins”, posted May 25, 2011 at Called to Communion.
- Since the introductions and footnotes on the printed text were written by a non-Catholic of evident Protestant inclination, one is advised to read them with prayerful caution.
- For instance, when St. Vincent, in Chapter vi, refers to Rome as “the apostolic see”, the footnote vainly attempts to obfuscate his Catholicism by claiming that this appellation had also been applied to other local churches, particularly those founded by apostles. This notably ignores the fact that the said ancient author applied the phrase in a special and eminent way to Rome, hence its reference to Pope Stephen as “Prelate of the Apostolic See” (as opposed to Agrippinus, referred to simply as “bishop of Carthage”). Note too how the Saint referred to the bishops of Rome as “the blessed successors of the blessed apostles”; and how he surmised that Pope Stephen opposed Agrippinus’ novelty on sacramental discipline because the former understood “that as he exceeded all others in the authority of his place, so he should also in the devotion of his faith.” Thus St. Vincent clearly recognised Rome’s primacy and mandate as the apostolic see par excellence.
On the Feast of St. Vincent of Lerins, Father of the Church.
From Chapter vi of the text:
“Pope Stephen of blessed memory, Prelate of the Apostolic See… in an epistle sent at the time to Africa… laid down this rule:
Let there be no innovation — nothing but what has been handed down.
“For that holy and prudent man well knew that true piety admits no other rule than that whatsoever things have been faithfully received from our fathers the same are to be faithfully consigned to our children; and that it is our duty, not to lead religion whither we would, but rather to follow religion whither it leads; and that it is the part of Christian modesty and gravity not to hand down our own beliefs or observances to those who come after us, but to preserve and keep what we have received from those who went before us.
“What then was the issue of the whole matter? What but the usual and customary one? Antiquity was retained, novelty was rejected.”
From Chapter x:
“But some one will ask, How is it then, that certain excellent persons, and of position in the Church, are often permitted by God to preach novel doctrines to Catholics?… Blessed Moses… writes thus in Deuteronomy… ‘For the Lord, your God, trieth you, to know whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.'”
From Chapter xxxiii:
“[A]ssuredly it is incumbent on all Catholics who are anxious to approve themselves genuine sons of Mother Church, to adhere henceforward to the holy faith of the holy Fathers, to be wedded to it, to die in it; but as to the profane novelties of profane men — to detest them, abhor them, oppose them, give them no quarter.