An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Vincentian Canon

The canonical threefold test of catholicity is found in the fifth-century Commonitorium of Vincent of Lérins (d. c. 445). Vincent was a monk on the island of Lérins in Gaul. He may have written the Commonitorium around 434. It defines the catholic faith as “what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” It was often misquoted by nineteenth-century English writers who put “antiquity” first. It is often used by Anglican scholars as a patristic source for Hooker's “three legged stool” of scripture, tradition, and reason as sources of authority in Anglicanism. The Commonitorium, written by Vincent under the pseudonym “Peregrinus,” is a guide to the catholic faith and the source of the Vincentian Canon. The Commonitorium emphasizes the primacy of scripture as the ground of truth. It also places significant emphasis on tradition and allows for development of doctrine as scripture is more fully explicated.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.