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January 11

Saint Vitalis of Gaza Jan 11

Saint Vitalis of Gaza

Hermit, Monk, Martyr

(6th Century – Around 625)

Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.

Saint Vitalis of Gaza

Saint’s Life Story

Little Known of His Early Life 

Vitalis’ exact date of birth is unknown and is assumed to be around the sixth century in Gaza, Palestine. Little is known of his youth. As a monk, he spent many years as a hermit in the desert.

Left Life as Hermit to Move to Alexandria

When Vitalis was about 60 years old, he gave up his life as a hermit and went to Alexandria, Egypt.

Laborer During Day

There, he became a day laborer. He would work all day at back-breaking tasks to earn a wage and then proceed to the local brothel to spend it.

Different Prostitute Each Night

Every night, this former hermit found himself with a different prostitute. You can imagine what the local Christians thought! Vitalis was ridiculed and harassed. People even approached the Patriarch to try to have him excommunicated, but the Patriarch refused to act on hearsay.

As it turns out, Vitalis’ life wasn’t quite as debauched as people thought. Each night, after Vitalis had paid for a woman’s services, he would say:  “I pay thee this, that thou mayest spend one night without sin.”  She was free to sleep. He, meanwhile, would hold vigil over her and pray for her. Afterwards he would pray with her, often passing the night in reciting the Psalms and, on leaving, would extract a solemn promise that she would tell no one of the nature of his visit.

Explains His Nightly Visits

Naturally, some were curious. They asked Vitalis what he was about and he told them: God loved them and wanted them to be saved. Vitalis told them of God’s mercy, of his death on the cross, of the way he delighted in them. And when they were ready to accept this, he found them a way out. Vilatis worked to arrange marriages, provide dowries, even find monasteries willing to accept them. The only thing he asked was that they keep quiet about what he had done. If his good deeds had been known, after all, Vitalis would have been barred entry to the women he wanted to serve.

His Death

Vitalis was struck in the head in 625 with a knife by a person who saw him leaving a brothel. His murderer wanted Vitalis to quit interfering with his business in Alexandria, Egypt. Vitalis managed to returned to his hut. He died alone soon after, apprantly in prayer.

When Vitalis was found, he was clutching a paper with 1 Corinthians 4:5 written on it: “Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts.”

His Funeral

But the Christians of Alexandria had already judged. “Good riddance,” they thought, until Vitalis’ funeral. Dozens (if not hundreds) or former prostitutes attended his funeral, and each testified that she owed her soul to Vitalis.

So Vitalis submitted to ignominy, willingly offering his reputation for the sake of their souls. Whether Vitalis was killed by someone who was angry at his success with a favorite prostitute or by a self-righteous Christian, we don’t know. Certainly he was a martyr, one who offered his life for the salvation of souls, and with great success.

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         January 11

Patron Saint:     Day Laborers; Prostitutes

Source:

Reflection

There’s something so compelling to me about St. Vitalis’ story. Here was a man so concerned with the salvation of others that he offered not only his life but his good name. What humility, to be willing to be condemned as a lecher in order to save souls! It makes me wonder how willing I am to be shamed for the sake of the Gospel.

Then there’s the fact of his ability to see the dignity of these women who were considered scum. Long before people understood that victims of human trafficking are just that–victims–Vitalis was looking at them and seeing not fallen women but chosen daughters of the King. He wasn’t just trying to stop them from sinning, he was trying, whatever the cost, to show them what they were worth and how deeply they were loved.

What if we took it as our life’s mission to convince people around us of the same thing? Even if they weren’t converted, their lives would be the more joyful because we chose to live like Christ.

Source: Merciful Like the Father: St. Vitalis of Gaza – Held By His Pierced Hands

Prayers

St Vitalis, you risked your reputation and eventually your life by providing value and dignity to women who were prostitutes while imitiating Jesus in support of sinners helping them repent their ways. May we imitiate Jesus in our actions reaching out others who need Jesus most.

St Vitalis of Gaza, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

All Saints & Martyrs – St Vitalis of Gaza

Anastpaul – Saint Vitalis of Gaza

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Vitalis of Gaza

CatholicSaints.Info – Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998

Communio – St Vitalis of Gaza

Held by His Pierced Hands – Merciful Like the Father: St. Vitalis of Gaza

Sundry ThoughtsFeast of St. Vitalis of Gaza

Wikipedia

Video Link

St. Vitalis of Gaza – YouTube (Catholic Drive Time)