Martyred at Bologna about 304 during Diocletian's persecution
Vitalis and Agricola, SAINTS, martyred at Bologna about 304 during Diocletian's persecution. Agricola, who was beloved for his gentleness, converted his slave, Vitalis, to Christianity; they became deeply attached to each other. Vitalis was the first to suffer martyrdom, being executed in the amphitheatre. By his tortures and by flattery the persecutors sought in vain to win over Agricola, whom they finally crucified. Both martyrs were buried in the Jewish graveyard. In 393 St. Ambrose and Bishop Eusebius of Bologna transferred the remains of the martyrs to a church. Ambrose took some of the blood, of the cross, and of the nails to Florence, placing these relics in the church erected by the saintly widow Juliana. On this occasion he delivered an oration in praise of virginity, with special reference to the three virgin daughters of Juliana. His mention of the martyrs Agricola and Vitalis in the first part of the oration is the only authority for their lives ("De exhortatione virginitatis", cc. i-u, in P.L., XVI, 335). The feast of the two martyrs is observed on November 4. In 396 other relics were sent to St. Victricius, Bishop of Rouen, and, about the same date, to St. Paulinus of Nola and others.