The Venerable Monk Vitalis

The following is taken from the Prologue of Ohrid, April 22.

During the time of Patriarch John the Merciful, a young monk appeared, who, as soon as he arrived, compiled a list of all the prostitutes in Alexandria. The asceticism of this young monk was exceptional and unique. During the day he would offer himself for hire to do the most difficult jobs, and at night he would enter the houses of ill repute, give the money he had earned to some prostitute, and close himself in the room with her the entire night. As soon as they would be locked up, Vitalis would beg the woman to lie down and sleep and he would spend the entire night in a corner of the room in prayer to God for that sinner. Thus, he would save the woman from sinning at least one night. The second night he would go to a second, and the third, and so on until he had visited them all, and then he would return to the one with whom he had started. By his counseling, many of the sinners abandoned their sullied trade. Some of them married, others entered convents, and still others turned to a respectable work and income. Vitalis forbade all of these women to reveal the reason why he was visiting them. Because of this, Vitalis became a scandal for all of Alexandria. The men began to scold him, spit upon him, and openly beat him in the streets. He bore all patiently, making known his good works to God and concealing them from men. When he died, everything about him became known. Over his grave there occurred many miracles of healing, and people from different places began to bring their sick to his grave. Spat upon by men, he was and has remained glorified by the Omniscient God.

Hymn of Praise: Saint Vitalis

Vitalis, a monk in a great city,
hurried to his labor with prayer in his heart.
But the sinful populace pretended to be righteous;
they scorned the monk and spat upon his head.
The monk wiped his face, endured and remained silent;
he did not respond or become angry at anyone.
Then a certain young man (though old in depravity)
approached Vitalis and struck him.
And the young man said to him: “Shameless monk,
how long will you try our patience?”
“Why did you strike me?” asked Vitalis.
“You yourself will be beaten – and the whole city will come running.”
And not much time passed before the young man went insane,
for having, without God, judged the man of God.
The youth howled and the entire city became frightened;
but Vitalis peacefully departed unto God.
Then came the madman to the grave of the saint,
and at the grave he found healing for himself.
The young man himself related this tale,
and to the glorious Vitalis gave thanks.

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