Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – U-Z

Vincenzo: Bishop of Capua (r337-365).

Vinchiaturo (CB): A commune in the province of Campobasso. Population: 2,977 (2006e).

Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro): b. Oct. 15, 70 BC, Andes (near Mantua); d. Sept. 22, 19 BC, Brundisium). Roman poet. The son of a small landowner, Virgil was first educated at Cremona and Mediolanum. As a young man, he journeyed to Neapolis (Naples) where he studied Greek language and culture under Parthenius. It was here that discovered his love and talent for poetry, and displayed abilities in other fields such as mathematics, medicine and agriculture. Poor health prevented him from pursuing any standard career and he retired at an early age back to his father’s estate at Mantua. After the victory of Octavian and Antony over the senatorial party, a colony of veteran soldiers was established at Mantua and Virgil’s family estate was among those confiscated to provide land for the soldier colonists. Through the intersession of influential friends, the order of confiscation was rescinded, but when Virgil returned to reclaim his property, the new owner, a centurion named Areus, refused to withdraw. Virgil was forced to flee for his life, swimming across the river Mincius to escape from his pursuer. He decided to settle in Rome where he soon earned the friendship of many notables including Pollio, Maecenas, and even the emperor Augustus. His fortunes now improved, Virgil began to divide his time between Rome, Tarentum, and Naples. This last city, with its natural beauty and high Greek culture, soon became his preferred residence. The great project of his life, the setting down of the Roman national epic, the great Aeneid, prompted him to journey to Greece in 19 BC. Soon after his arrival, however, he was met by Augustus in Athens who persuaded the poet to return with him to Italy. Virgil’s poor constitution had left him exhausted from his travels and, no sooner had the party returned to Brundisium, he became gravely ill and died. His body was brought back to his beloved Naples and he was buried in a fine tomb on the road between that city and Puteoli. There is good reason to accept the monument long identified with his tomb as being genuine. Virgil’s literary works extend well beyond the Aeneid and his poetry reveals much information about his life and interests. His influence on Roman literature, as well as no medieval and Renaissance learning cannot be underestimated.

Visciano (NA): A commune in the province of Napoli.

Vita (TP): A commune in the province of Trapani.

Vitalian, St: Pope. (rJuly 30, 657-Jan 27, 672).

Vitaliano, St.: Bishop of Capua (rAD 700-?).

Vittore, St.: Bishop of Capua (rAD 541-554).

Vittoria (RG): A commune in the province of Ragusa.

Vittorito (AQ): A commune in the province of L’Aquila. Population: 955 (2006e).

Vitulano (BN): A commune in the province of Benevento. Population: 3,026 (2006e).

Vitulazio (CE): A commune in the province of Caserta. Population:  5,755 (2006e).

Vitus, St.: (poss. AD 3rd Century) According to an unreliable source, Vitus was the only son of a Roman senator in Sicily. Having been converted to Christianity at the age of 12, he was arrested and brought before Valerian, the governor of Sicily. He refused to recant his faith and was imprisoned. Escaping, he fled to Lucania on the mainland, in the company of his tutor Modestus and a servant named Crescentia. He eventually made his way to Rome where he was said to have driven an evil spirit out of the son of the Emperor Diocletian. When Vitus refused to make a formal sacrifice to the gods, however, his cure was attributed to sorcery. Once more under arrest, he and his companions were tortured but miraculously protected from harm. The story continues that a sudden storm arose which destroyed the temples in Rome and allowed Vitus and the other Christian prisoners to escape. They were said to have been guided back to safety in Lucania where they remained free and unharmed for the rest of their lives.

St. Vitus’s cult remained strong in Lucania for many centuries. In AD 836, his relics were taken to Saxony where they became central to a major Germanic cult following. His feast day is June 15.