Sts. Vitalis and Agricola
Martyred at Bologna about 304 during Diocletian's persecution. Agricola, who
was beloved for his gentleness, converted his slave, Vitalis, to Christianity;
they became deeply attached to each other. Vitalis was first to suffer martyrdom,
being executed in the ampitheatre. By his tortues and by flattery the
persecutors sought in vain to win over Agricola, whom they finally crucified.
Both martyrs were buried in the Jewish graveyard. In 393 St. Ambrose and Bishop
Eusebius of Bologna transferred the remains of the martyrs to a church. Ambrose
took some of the blood, of the cross, and the nails to Florence, placing these
relics in the church erected by the saintly widow Juliana. On this occasion he
delivered an oration in praise of virginity, with special reference to the three
virgin daughters of Juliana. His mention of the martyrs Agricola and Vitalis in
the first part of the oration is the only authority for their lives (
exhortatione virginitatis, cc. i-u, in P.L., XVI, 335). The feast of the two
martyrs is observed on 4 November. In 396 other relics were sent to St.
Victricus, Bishop of Rouen, and, about the same date, to St. Paulinus of Nola
Acta SS., Nov., II, 233-53; RUINART, Acta martyrum (Ratisbon, 1869), 491-94.
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