Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Vigilius

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Bishop of Trent, martyr, patron of Trent and of Tyrol, b. c. 353; d. 26 June, 405; feast 26 June. The name of his father was not known (Acta SS., June, VII, 143), though given by some as Theodosius. His mother Maxentia (Acta SS., Apr., III, 781) and his brothers Claudian (Acta SS., March, I, 426) and Magorian (Acta SS., March, II, 398) are numbered among the saints. At an early age he came with his parents to Trent (possibly he was born there), and pursued his studies at Athens, becoming noted for his sanctity and learning; here he seems to have formed a friendship with St. John Chrysostom. He went to Rome and thence in 380 returned to Trent, where the people by acclamation chose him their bishop. He was consecrated by Valerian, Bishop of Aquileia, or possibly by St. Ambrose of Milan who donated the episcopal insignia and showed a paternal solicitude for Vigilius; he urged him (Ep. 29 in P.L., XVI, 982) to strongly oppose marriages with heathens. Vigilius laboured strenuously to convert the Arians in the city of Trent and the many idolaters throughout the diocese. He preached the Gospel in the districts of Brescia and Verona, beyond the confines of his diocese, and there erected some thirty parishes placing his missionary companions as pastors and bishops. Among these were Sts. Sisinnius, Martyrius, and Alexander (Acta SS., May, VII, 37), natives of Cappadocia, whom Vigilius had brought from Milan, and who after a short apostolate were martyred; parts of the relics were sent to Milan and others to Constantinople.

Accompanied by his brothers and a priest named Julian, Vigilius then went west of Trent to the Rendena Valley to teach the Gospel to the worshippers of Saturn. At a place, which is now the parish of Rendena, he offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and threw the statue of Saturn into the River Sarka. Enraged at this the idolaters stoned him to death. The body was brought back to Trent and buried in the church built by Vigilius. The acts of his life and martyrdom were immediately sent to Rome. Innocent I gave them to the Emperor Honorius as a protection on one of his military expeditions. He seems to have made a formal canonization, for Benedict XIV ("De canonizat. SS.", Prato, 1839, I, ch. iv, no. 12) calls Vigilius the first martyr canonized by a pope. Eugippius, the successor of Vigilius in the See of Trent, enlarged the cathedral and dedicated it to St. Vigilius. In 1386 the right hand was separated from the body and put into a precious reliquary. Many churches in Tyrol bear the name of the saint. He is the author of the work, "De Martyrio SS. Sisinnii, Martyrii et Alexandri", in P.L., XIII, 549.

BARDENHEWER, Patrology, tr. SHAHAN (St. Louis, 1908), 444; KRÖSS, Austria Sancta, I (Vienna, 1910), 8.

FRANCIS MERSHMAN