Vitalis of Savigny

Saint Vitalis of Savigny (ca. 1060 – 16 September 1122) was the canonized founder of Savigny Abbey and the Congregation of Savigny (1112).


He was born Vital de Mortain in Normandy at Tierceville near Bayeux about 1060-5. His parents were Rainfred le Vieux and Rohais. We know nothing of his early years; after ordination he became chaplain to Duke William the Conqueror's brother, Robert of Mortain (died 1090). Vitalis gained the respect and confidence of Robert, who bestowed upon him a canonry in the abbey church of Saint Evroul at Mortain, which he had founded in 1082.[1]

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. Here for seventeen years he lived an ascetic life, and was called Vital le Vieux ("Vitalis the Old") taken from his father's name. At the same time he concerned himself, like his mentor Robert of Arbrissel, with the salvation of the surrounding population, giving practical help to the outcasts who gathered round him.[1]

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 1105-1120 he founded a monastery of nuns, Abbaye Blanche, at Mortain, with his sister Adeline—later canonized—as abbess. He died at Savigny, on 16 September 1122.


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