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Martyr, died at Bologna, 3rd century.

This titular saint of the famous basilica at Ravenna and of an early Roman church has been associated with two other martyrs through false identification. Ambrose and Eusebius, bishop of Bologna, discovered the bodies of two martyrs who were afterwards said to be Vitalis and Agricola, supposedly a Bolognese gentleman and his Christian slave, who instructed him in the faith before they were both put to death. Feast: 27 November in Martyrology of Jerome, but 4 November from the 8th century at Bologna, and later in Roman Martyrology. The other ancient feast of Vitalis is 28 April, which marks the dedication of his church at Rome. This date is recorded by Bede and the OE Martyrology, Florus, and others. Sometimes on this day is found the entry Vitalis and Valeria, which comes from a purely fictitious identification of these two people with the parents of Gervase and Protase. Valeria has no record outside these unreliable Acts. The casket which once contained her supposed relics is in the British Museum (Waddesdon Bequest).

Propylaeum, s.d. 28 April and 27 November: C.M.H. on same days. Legends by Pseudo-Ambrose and others in AA.SS. Apr. III (1675), 562–5; AA.SS. Nov. II (part I, 1894), 233–53; H. Delehaye, ‘L'Hagiographie ancienne de Ravenne’, Anal. Boll., xlvii (1929), 5–30; id., ‘Trois dates du calendrier romain’, Anal. Boll., xlvi (1928), 55–9.

Subjects: Christianity.

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