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Saint Vigilius

Saint Vigilius
  • Century: 4th & 5th Century
  • Patronage: Patron Saint of Trent, Travelers
  • Feast Day: June 26th

Saint Vigilius of Trent is venerated as the patron saint of Trent, Italy – and the first bishop of Trent.  He was born in Trent, Italy and was a martyr.  He was born into the Roman noble class, and was of great means financially.  

He studied at Athens, Greece, and then returned to his native city where he was appointed the first bishop of Trent.  H was very active in bringing the Gospel to the mountain areas of northern Italy and was good friends with Ambrose of Milan, Martyrius, and Alexander, all saints today – whom all helped him in his mission of conversions of the pagans.  Vigilius long labored to aid the poor, resist the practice of usury, and most of all struggled to promote the conversions of the people from paganism to Christianity.   He had a strong desire to help the poor, and spent much of his time as Bishop doing just that.  

When Vigilius was in a remote village in the Rendena Valley, in the northern parts of Italy, after Mass he commanded that a stature of Saturn be hurled into the river.  A group of irate pagans captured him and stoned Vigilius to death.  

Also worth noting is that Vigilius was not only educated in Athens, but seems to have been a very good friend of St. John Chrysostom as well.  In Viligius’s attempts to convert Arians and pagans to orthodox Christianity, he is said to have founded thirty parishes in his dioceses, most of which remain there today.  He also opposed marriages between Christians and pagans, something that did not set well with the people of his time.   

An interesting note – Vigilius is assocaited with the legend of St. Romedius, who is often depicted alongside or riding a bear.  According to Romedius’ biography, Romedius once wished to visit Vigilius, a good friend of his youth, but Romedius’ horse was torn to pieces by a wild bear.  Romedious however, had the bear bridled by his disciple David – and through prayer.  The Bear became docile and carried Romedius on it’s back all the way to Trent – where he was able to visit with Vigilius.  It is thought that Vigilius’s prayers for Romedius’ safe journey brought about this miracle.  

Practical Take Away

In studying the life of St. Vigilius, it is evident that he had a strong desire to catechize the people of his time – something that is still in need of today.  So much so, that as a Bishop, he traveled to the remote parts of northern Italy and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Knowing that he could loose his life because of the pagans of his time, he did not let that deter him.  He moved forward with the Grace of God and gave his life for spreading the good news, trying to save others.  We can do well in our lives to follow this great Saints example and preach the Gospel to all of those around us, no matter what our state of life is, by the actions we as Catholics, live out daily.  Preaching the good news can be achieved by setting an example to those around us, in doing what Jesus asks of us.  People should know we are Christians by our actions, not always our words.  Use words when needed.