Today’s Station Church was San Vitale. The patron of the Church is Saint Vitalis who was martyred during the Roman persecutions in the early second century. He was of higher social standing and encouraged those who were being killed for the faith. He was rewarded with torture on a rack and then being buried alive. He was the husband of Saint Valeria and the father of Saints Gervasius and Protasius all of whom were martyred as well.
At the end of the second century a widow left her fortune for the building of a bigger shrine to Saint Vitalis. The Church is well below street level now which shows how far current Rome sits above ancient Rome.
This Church was the old Titular Church of Saint John Fisher, the Cardinal Bishop of Rochester, England. Saint John Fisher refused to sign the oath of the heretic Henry VIII which declared that Henry was the supreme head on earth of the church in England. For this courageous act he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Pope Clement VII hoped to save the Saint’s life by elevating him to the honor of cardinal. Upon hearing this the tyrant Henry declared that instead of sending the cardinal’s hat to England he would send the bishop’s head to Rome and thus Saint John Fisher gave his life like Saint Vitalis testifying to the truth.
In today’s readings we are exhorted to “Remember the marvels the Lord has done”. During this Lenten Season as we seek to return to God will our whole hearts let us reflect on the fact that God has done great things. And on this Friday in Lent let us be specially mindful on the fact that Christ gave his life for us by being nailed to a cross so that we, if we so choose, may have eternal life with him.
The above is a picture of a fresco in the Church portraying the martyrdom of Saint Vitalis. As always feel free to check out my blog.