The Golden Legend
The Life of Saint Vital
Of Saint Vital, Martyr, and first of the interpretation of his name.

Vital is as much to say as such one living, for he lived without forth like as he was in his heart within. Or Vital is as much to say as life. Or Vital is to say flying with wings, or flying himself with wings of virtues. He was as one of the beasts that Ezechiel saw, having in himself four wings; the wing of hope by which he flew into heaven, the wing of love by which he flew to God, the wing of dread by which he flew to hell, and the wing of knowledge by which he flew to himself. And it is supposed that his passion is found in the book of Gervase and Prothase.

Of Saint Vital.

Saint Vital was a knight and a consul, and of Valeria his wife he gat Saint Gervase and Saint Prothase. He went to Ravenna with Paulin that was judge of the country, and when he came thither he saw that this Paulin made a physician named Ursian to suffer many torments because he would not reny his faith, and at the last when they would have beheaded him he was so afraid that he would have renied God. Then said Saint Vital to him: Ha! Ursian, do not so, thou wert wont to heal other and now wilt deliver thyself to perdurable death. Thou wert come to the victory, now thou art in peril to lose thy crown which was ready for thee. When this physician had heard these words, he was all recomforted, and repented of his evil purpose, and suffered gladly martyrdom. And Saint Vital did do bury him much honorably, ne never after would Saint Vital not go in the company of the judge Paulin. Then he had so great indignation, of that he had defended Ursian to make sacrifice, and of this that he deigned not to come to him, and because he showed him a christian man he did him to be hanged by the arms on a gibbet. Then said to him Vital, thou art overmuch a fool if thou ween to deceive me which have always delivered the other. Then said Paulin: Bring him for to do sacrifice, and if he do it not, make a deep pit unto the water and put his head thereunder. And so they did, and there buried him quick, in the year of our Lord fiftyseven. And the priest of the idols that had given this counsel was anon taken of the devil, and cried seven days continually and said: Saint Vital thou burnest me, and the seventh day the devil threw him in the river and there died shamefully. And the wife of Saint Vital, when she came to Milan she found there of her people sacrificing the idols, which prayed her to eat with them of their sacrifices, to whom she answered: I am a christian woman, and it is not lawful for me to eat of your sacrifices. Then they, hearing that, beat her so long and so sore that they left her for dead. And her men that were with her brought her to Milan half living, and there the third day she died holily And the body of Saint Vital lieth now at Cologne in the church of our Lady.

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