Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Vitalis of Savigny

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 15
St. Vitalis of Savigny

by Douglas Raymund Webster


Founder of the monastery and Congregation of Savigny (1112), b. at Tierceville near Bayeaux about 1060-5; d. at Savigny, 16 Sept., 1122. His parents were named Rainfred and Rohais. We know nothing of his early years; after ordination he became chaplain to the Conqueror's brother, Robert of Mortain (d. 1100). Vitalis gained the respect and confidence of Robert, who bestowed upon him a canonry in the Church of Saint Evroult at Mortain, which he had founded in 1082. But Vitalis felt within him a desire for a more perfect state of life. He gave up his canonry in 1095, settled at Dompierre, 19 miles east of Mortain, and became one of the leaders of the hermit colony of the forest of Craon (see ROBERT OF ARBRISSEL). Here for seventeen years he lived an ascetical life. At the same time he concerned himself, like Robert of Arbrissel, with the salvation of the surrounding population, giving practical help to the outcasts who gathered round him. He was a great preacher, remarkable for zeal, insensible to fatigue, and fearlessly outspoken; he is said to have attempted to reconcile Henry I of England with his brother, Robert Curthose. He seems to have visited England and a considerable part of western France, but Normandy was the chief scene of his labours. Between 1105 and 1120 he founded a nunnery at Mortain, with his sister St. Adeline as abbess. (See SAVIGNY.)

WALTER, Ersten Wanderprediger Frankreichs, II (Leipzig, 1906), ii; AUVRY, Hist. de la congreg. de Savigny, I (Caen, 1896); Vitae bb. Vitalis et Gaufridi, ed. SAUVAGE in Anal. bolland., I (Brussels, 1882), 355-410.

Raymund Webster.