Chapter 61 of the Golden Legend by Jacobus Voragine (1275), translated by William Caxton, 1483. This "reader's version" of the text provides section headings, paragraph breaks, and explanatory glosses.

S. Vital was a knight and a consul, and of Valeria his wife he gat begot S. Gervase and S. 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 deny his faith, and at the last when they would have beheaded him he was so afraid that he would have renied God.

Then said S. Vital to him: Ha! Ursian, do not so, thou wert wont to heal other others and now wilt deliver thyself to perdurable eternal 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, made stronger and repented of his evil purpose, and suffered gladly martyrdom. And S. Vital did do bury had him buried him much honorably, ne nor never after would S. Vital not go in the company of the judge Paulin.

Then he [Paulin] had so great indignation, of that he [Vital] had defended Ursian to make sacrifice, and of this that he deigned not to come to him, and because he showed him showed himself to be 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 expect 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, alive in the year of our Lord fifty-seven.

And the priest of the idols that had given this counsel was anon explanation taken of by the devil, and cried seven days continually and said: S. Vital thou burnest me, and the seventh day the devil threw him in the river and there died shamefully.

And the wife of S. 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 S. Vital lieth now at Cologne in the church of our Lady.

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Vitalis and Valeria in Carpaccio's fresco at Santo Stefano, Venice. (See the description page for the entire fresco with commentary and the page explaining the iconography of images of these saints.)

This text was taken from the Internet Medieval Source Book. E-text © by Paul Halsall. Annotations, formatting, and added rubrics by Richard Stracke. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the sources. No permission is granted for commercial use.