Mother Church points today to the "Great Friday" on which our High Priest and Redeemer obtained for us eternal redemption. She takes us today to the church of St. Vitalisfather of the holy martyrs, Gervase and Protase. For his loyalty to Christ, St. Vitalis was first buried up to the waist in an old cistern and then stoned to death.
Here at the altar of this martyr his name means "full of life" Holy Mother Church directs our attention to the life-giving death of the Savior. In four weeks we will celebrate the life-begetting Passion of Christ. Pointing to this great mystery, the Church prays that we continue to prepare for it; that the holy fast may chasten us and make our hearts pure, so that when the vintage time of the Paschal solemnity arrives, the divine householder may not be obliged to say: "I looked that my vineyard should bring forth grapes, and it has brought forth thorns."
May St. Vitalis, who drank so abundantly of the sacred winepress of the Lord's Passions, accompany us today to the Eucharistic Banquet in which this most Holy Passion is rendered present and the fruits thereof applied to our souls. Here all of us will become "Vitales"living members of Christthe Fountain of all life and holiness.
Let us pray: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that cleansed by this holy fast, we may be brought by Thee with pure hearts to the holy season, which is to come. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Day XVII. Friday, Week II. "Lord, may this communion so change our lives that we may seek more faithfully the salvation it promises. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen" (Prayer after Communion for today).
San Vitale. Tradition holds that Saint Vitale was a Christian soldier stationed near Milan during the time of emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180). When he encouraged others who were being martyred, he was racked. (See woodcut from door.) Afterwards, according to the frescos in this ancient church, he was thrown into a pit and
buried alive. The basilica was consecrated by Pope St. Innocent I (401) and is really quite remarkable. Evidently, from the fresco in the apse and the woodcut from the door, it was also a place of great devotion towards Simon the Cyrenian, who was enlisted to carry the cross for Jesus.
Day XVII. Friday, Week II.
"Lord, may this communion so change our lives that we may seek more faithfully the salvation it promises. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen" (Prayer after Communion for today).