Spirituality for Today – April 2011 – Volume 15, Issue 9

Saint of the Month
St. Vitalis, April 28

An image of Saint VitalisSaint Vitalis

In 398 St. Ambrose discovered the tomb of the martyred brothers, saints Gervasius and Protasius in Milan. The tomb also held a written work by Philip, who called himself "Christ's servant." Philip buried the brothers along with the text that is partly a collection of legends and partly a description of historical events. It tells the story of the brothers as well as their parents Vitalis and Valeria. Vitalis was a military officer living in the 3rd century in Milan, who practiced Christianity in secret with his family. When persecution of Christians began, he was sent with judge Paulinus to Ravenne to carry out actions against the followers of the banned religion.

There, Vitalis encountered the Christian doctor Ursicinus. The doctor, frightened by the prospect of an impending violent death, was afraid and despaired.

Vitalis helped him accept his ordeal with dignity and then buried the martyr, which in turn made him a suspect. He was tried and since he refused to denounce faith in Christ, he was tossed into a deep pit and buried alive. In this way he joined other martyr.

His wife Valeria traveled from Milan to Ravenne to take care of his burial. However, local Christians refused to return his body because they wanted to keep the martyr's relics.

On her way back home, his wife was attacked by a group of pagans who tried to force her to sacrifice to the god Sylvan. When she refused, they brutally beat her. She was carried home and after three days died. Her sons sold the property, gave the money away to the poor and devoted themselves to pious life.

Jesus Christ, faith in You let St. Vitalis bravely accept suffering and death,
and give solace to neighbors in despair.
Let us too bring solace in Your name.
You live and reign for ages and ages.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives 3