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ACT V, SCENE i
VITUS, THE LORD CHRIST WITH THE APPEARANCE OF A LITTLE BOY, CELESTIAL CHOIR
Vitum in carcere solatur et animat Christus.
VIT. Good, this cell confines me in its deep bosom. This is Christ’s realm, this is the long sought-for home of the supernals. This prison is the mansion of the stars, this darkness is light, this stench, filth, and squalor my tapestries, these chains my bracelets. Oh, sweet knotted scourges! Oh gloom, equal to the glow of the stars! Oh soft flails! Oh, welcome blood from their blows! A thousand times over I praise you for such great gifts, Christ. Whence this great liking for a little boy, that permits me to serve You by experiencing these things? O would that whatever blood remains hidden in my veins would pour forth in profusion! Let my mangled frame, the pain of my disjointed limbs beat witness for You. May my bones burst for You, let Vitus be torn into a thousand pieces. (A vision of Christ bearing a triumphant cross is displayed for Vitus.)
CHR. Oh, continue, you blessed boy, continue and reap the palms of victory. Heaven-sent strength will be yours. By your suffering you will conquer whatever evil remains. There will be no delay, your final day of life and suffering is at hand. A single hour will crown your head with the honor of laurels, and consign you to Me. Meanwhile, accept this token of My love, and receive this wound, inflicted by My tender spear. (He touches his breast with the burning foot of His cross. A chorus sings from a cloud.).
Come now, receive these sweet flames. Gratefully receive the love of heaven. Suffer this deep, God-inflicted wound, and let its fiery virtue govern you, spread throughout your inmost being. Most blessed the man who, wounded by celestial fire, has abandoned this life for the love of the Lord.
VIT. What torch, what heat scorches me with its unexpected heat? The warmth melts my marrow, I am turning to ash. It is love. My heart is afire with boundless love. Christ, Vitus is burning for You and is wholly ablaze with Your fire. I am being burned. Ala, my heart cannot bear such great flames. You heavenly hands, bring here your fountains, bring water’s chill and sprinkle this burning boy. At water’s behest let love moderate its torches.
CHR. You struggle in vain, My boy. Not even if the ocean should abandon its sea-bed could it diminish this heat. You want surcease? Give Me your life, your blood will quench the heat.
Hearing the celestial music, two jailors are converted to Christ.
JAIL. 1 Miracles, concerning which no day should stand silent! What’s this light? What’s this sound, produced by musical mouths? I am eagerly going in search of Christ.
JAIL. 2 O what a sweet, welcome murmur! Oh, this is a day which even Phoebus shuld envy! Heaven has come down to this prison, and a greater brightness has illuminated its cells than does the sky. I am deserting to the Christians, to Hell with the gods!
The warden informs the emperor of what has transpired in the prison, and of the desertion of the two jailors.
WARD. My prison lies in the palace basement, where the depressed ground reaches down towards the Styx beneath it, dug deep in the earth where its dark recesses keep out the sunlight. Within reside the image of Dis, bristling darkness, and the still that attends on black silence. A dire vapor hovers over the dank dungeon. Everything is foul with stench, and the place of punishment is worse than the punishment itself. In its cavern I had shut up the rebellious Vitus, and closed the door with a triple lock of brass, when suddenly the prison started to tremble, the soil began to bellow from deep within the earth, and the house to totter with all its ceilings. At the first hearing, I shuddered and hunted for the sound. The crashing appeared to emanate from Vitus’ cell. I came a-flying, and you must believe this strange monstrosity. A light brighter than the sun had penetrated to the dark room where the boy was locked up and hidden away. Throughout this never-seen dwelling a bright light from heaven shone with a bright light.
DIO. Was any sound heard?
WARD. A divine sound, produced with heavenly art. A sound such as Phoebus does not make when he plies his lyre with a musical thumb. How this arcane tune penetrated my inmost being! How it swayed my feelings and penetrated to the core of my amazed mind!
DIO. But meanwhile you didn’t see any companion?
WARD. None. And yet the boy’s chains had been stricken off, the one that I myself had placed on him with my very own hands, making them tighter than adamant.
DIO. Let your tight-lipped loyalty keep this incident a secret.
WARD. It is well known.
DIO. Who spread the word?
WARD. More than one man. When both of my servants caught sight of it, they confessed that Christ is the only God, with Jove rejected.
DIO. They will die, I swear. But see, the lictor is dragging the felons into my presence, bound in chains.
Having unsuccessfully tried every method of perverting Vitus, Diocletian finally sentences him to death by melted lead.
DIO. Tell me, you most elegant of boys, how your mind is bent.
VIT. My evils have improved my mind, Caesar.
DIO. A welcome statement! At last you please me. You may amuse yourself throughout my royal court, you sweet light of the Caesars. Tell me how this happened.
VIT. Languor was weighing on my mind, I loved too sluggishly. But prison enlivened my long-suppressed fires, and bound me to the God of the Christians all the tighter. My love blazed up. I breathe You alone, Christ, to the whole world I proclaim that You are God.
DIO. A god invented by a human brain.
VIT. Just as Pallas sprang from the pregnant brain of Jove. Christ is the Ruler of the world, the Father of the stars and of mankind, the sure salvation of this passing world, and even by the shedding of my blood I attest that He is God.
DIO. Just live, I pray, being worthy of Jove’s Augustus. Enjoy your youth, and while the aura of thriving youth favors you, serve cups to me, a lesser Jove, being a boy dearer to me than that Phrygian lad. Dismiss Christ from your mind. I swear by that marsh by which the gods take their oaths, in my eyes nobody will be greater than you, nobody will come after you. Even if you demand a scepter equal to Caesar’s, you may have it. But if you refuse to yield, every manner of punishment, cruel, bloody, sad, fearful and brutal, awaits you in your recalcitrance. So that you may believe my words, see the images of both, displayed in two houses. (A pair of matching houses are displayed, one belonging to Terror, the other to Honor.) Terror possesses this home, and Honor that. Terror and the devices of excruciating pain await Christ’s followers, a thousand methods of torture, which only protract one’s death. Affixed to its walls you see fearful reminders of dreadful death. Follow Jove and the gods. Honor, rich with gold and gems, will receive you. Surrounding it are glories: royal scepters, wealth, scarlet robes of state, purple garments, the pleasure of sport, and whatever good thing has ever existed. You must choose which you prefer.
VIT. The choice is easy: terror inspires humble minds, and honor lofty ones.
DIO. At last you display wisdom, Vitus. (Vitus goes to the house of Terror.)
VIT. But true honor dwells in this home, this is the furniture of kings, and a realm shines thanks to these tokens. The forceps are my scepter, swollen welts my robe of state, the gridiron my throne, the brutal wheel my royal pedigree. Blood from my veins will supply my purple, and the torturer my lordly retinue. Oh, dear to me! Oh, sweet kingdom! Thus I transform the bugaboos of your cruelty into august wealth, my bloodthirsty prince. Tear me asunder, butcher me, strike me, I am a Christian, and a Christian’s highest hope is to suffer while confessing Christ. No need to offer me togas dyed with scarlet, Augustus. They are reddened by a shower of innocent blood, and God, Who alone brandishes the lightning, sees they were slaughtered by your hand. He sees, and in His justice He is readying an avenging turn of fortune. Diocletian, He Who brought back the spoils of defeated Hell, He Who shatters those high places so envied by the common run of mankind, bids me say these things to you. Why do you extol yourself, you arrogant fellow, and command that you be worshiped as a god throughout the world? Can you stop the flying chariot of Phoebus? Can you bridle the fleet nor’westerlies at your whim? Can you restrain the Fates. If you cannot do these things, how can you be a god? Oh, the very vain arrogance of the human mind!
DIO. So says Christ to Caesar? As my messenger to Orcus, take this back to Christ. Grumble as He will, I am a god. I am a thunderbolt and a terror to the Christian flock, which someday I shall wholly uproot. I would scarcely want to be a god so that Christ might too.
VIT. Whoever throws rebellious torches at the sky ought to fear them when they come falling down, sin rebounds upon the sinner. Rage in all directions, in your ferocity invent strange new methods of torture, you yourself will still perish. Christ will rule your empire, and, when the time comes rolling around, He will dictate laws to willing peoples.
DIO. Oh, you stiff-necked boy! Lictor, take him to the fires.
HYL Slow down, Caesar, and stay your vengeful hand. (He kneels.) I am Hylas, illustrious for my noble pedigree, a wealthy citizen of the island of Sicily, and I humbly beg for the Augustus’ credence. I, whom no man’s feet have seen outstretched before themselves, come flying to your knees. Pity a father. Thus may your Augustus-born son happily surpass you hopes, thriving in years and scepter alike. This boy is his father’s single consolation. While I was in disguise, offering him sound advice, I was dragged off to a stone cell, though the Christian plague has not infected my heart,
DIO. Oh, you architect of deceit! You mischief-marker! Is this how you toy with the court, feigning the father in outward show, while inwardly a priest? You are manipulating Vitus with your magical plague, and drawing him to Christ with your bewitching words.
VIT. Wrong on both counts, Caesar. I boast of no other father. Nor has he brought Christ to me, being opposed himself. The poor man worships tree-trunks and rocks, after the Dardanian fashion.
LUP. Papinus, come here.
PAP. (Raising his arms and eyes heavenward.) By you I swear, you lights of heaven, you fires, gods of heaven’s citadel, if I utter falsehoods may Chaos justly yawn open its mouth and swallow my lying self. He was feigning the father. While openly he worships the Roman gods, Christ is to his private liking. This priest worships Christ with Panchaean incense. I swear, he has tainted this boy with his infernal pestilence. He was the first to teach him of Christ, with Jove shown the door.
HYL. The earth stays still and does not angrily spit forth avenging fires?
PAP. This shows I swore the truth.
DIO. Why scatter words to the winds? Whether Vitus obeys you as his father or as his master in deceitful witchcraft, I swear by the Acheron, unless you sing a song of recantation and unweave your wiles, and restore to Jove the boy you have stolen, you will be burned as a wizard. On this I am determined.
HYL. (He turns himself in every direction.) Oh, the faith of gods and men! I swear by all that’s right in the world, you are punishing an innocent man.
DIO. Take him to the coals, lictor, let him go up in smoke.
HYL. (Running back to his son.) Save your father, son. His safety depends on you. Only you can keep your father from a hideous death. Oh, if anything of myself survives in you, if any piety moves you, have pity on your father, son. If sin is to your liking, hand me over to the flames.
VIT. May God avert the omen! I acknowledge my father’s good deserts. The laws that your nature once established in me, these I bear in my veins, never abolished. If my blood can redeem my father’s life, then behold, my breast is exposed. Let Caesar turn his wrath in my direction.
HYL. If you abandon Christ and worship Jove, neither of us will die.
VIT. Spare me, father. Christ is forever my choice.
HYL. (With great indignation.) Oh, I’m the unhappy father of an accursed son!
LUP. You subordinate your father to Christ.
VIT. I subordinate Man to God.
OTHO. You allow the man who sired you to be dragged to the flames?
VIT. The crime belongs to them person who commands it. Caesar is burning an undeserving man. I will not avert a crime by committing a greater one.
DIO. Let them both be burned. Fire will devour these sacrilegious gentlemen.
HYL. (Falling at the emperor’s knees.) Oh, by the sacred brilliance of the Augustus’ person, by the sacred scepter of his realm, by your hand that supports the downtrodden, let this penalty fall on me alone, forgive the boy.
VIT. Rather, you should forbid the execution of a blameless man, and permit a son to rescue his father by being offered up as a sacrificial victim for Christ.
DIO. Piously abjure Christ and offer incense to Jove, and I shall spare your father.
VIT. What? Impiety should save a harmless man? Far from it, you tyrant. Christ is forever my choice.
DIO. Oh, headstrong boy! Priest, let a fiery liquid consume this boy, living and seeing. You will sacrifice his melted limbs to Jove. Perish this uncontrollable crime! I pardon Hylas, his passion shows he is a father.
HYL. Oh, you sparing prince!
VAL. Caesar, this day has compelled your son to wish something. Oh father, restrain your deadly weapon, and let this boy, who brought your dying son health, live in accordance with my entreaties. Should such beauty perish by fire? This brightness of face, shining with starry fire? Should such youthful beauty be turned to ash?
VIT. You pray for me, though guilty of broken faith? Stop. This is no time for entreaties. My supreme desire is to die as a confessor in Christ, so that I might blessedly wear the Christian laurel, purchased by my faith.
DIO. I shall grant your prayers, you may burn.
VAL. So die, you stubborn heart.
HYL. Ungrateful fellow, whose heart is encased in oak and a triple thickness of iron. Go, lictor, consign him to the flames. I shall be present as an assistant to the executioner, and slaughter you in Jove’s honor.
LUP. Go, you parricide, suffer the death you deserve.
OTHO Go, you hard cliff, you disgrace to humanity.
PUL. Go, you low-down monster, the ruin of your father.
URB. This is my supreme prayer, Vitus is condemned to the flames.
Vitus joyfully prepares himself for death.
VIT. At long last I blessedly set forth on the final road of my appointed death. I do set forth, no sense of effort delays my sluggish feet. The day for which I asked in my constant prayer has dawned bright and cloudless. Soon I shall be borne to that place where I may strike the sky with my uplifted head and see the land lying far beneath me. Oh, day of my blessed good fortune, oh, thrice-kind favor of a friendly God! What sailor, caught out in a stormy sea, would refuse a harbor? What vagabond in a strange would be unwilling to return to his paternal hearth? Who would be downcast to reach his intended goal? Oh goal, nation, harbor! See how love gives me swift winds. Christ, You Who govern both my life and my death by the same Law, grant me to endure death with a bright triumph. I do not ask that You lower the heat of the boiling liquid or blunt my sense of pain. Let the rage of the molten lead consume my limbs with the same great heat that its fires impart to Etna. I shall suffer it, I shall embrace it, I shall endure it. There is only one thing I pray for: stretch out Your hand as I struggle and lend me Your strength. Grant me to pass through the terrible heat as a victor, with my final words let me proclaim You to be God. Let my love conquer the heat with its greater flame. And when the torturer has made an end to my mortal life, let the pure brightness of the truth illuminate the households and the race of Aeneas. (The back of the stage opens, and a great bronze cauldron is seen, surrounded by fire.)
URB. Why are we delaying? Drag him to the forum, lictor. Pay attention, my little fellow. Behold from afar this storm of fire. This cruel pot is a-boil on its great pyre, and requires you, guilty as you are.
VIT. (Kneeling.) Oh, the sweet sight! Oh, the pleasing glory! I greet you, flames, and you too, you starry sparks, and you kettle, better than a celestial court. Oh, most welcome bath! Oh, longed-for liquid, hoped-for passage of the boiling sea! Sea of blessed water! Oh, if I may cleave your floods! Let me sail this precious sea of pitch, lead, and sulphur and enter into harbor, where safe salvation beckons.
Hylas, driven insane by the loss of his son, acts strangely.
HYL. (Dashing to and fro like a madman.) Where? How? Tell me, has my son run away?
JAIL. 1 Your son? Who’s he?
HYL. A boy with a starry brow whiter than ivory, imitating Phoebus’ brightness with his eyes. He shines with his empurpled cheeks. The hair on his head is golden, eloquence presides over his mouth, and the Grace herself his countenance. He’s a cheerful lad. Do you know him?
JAIL. 2 (Aside.) I think he’s insane.
HYL. He’s insane? No, he’s intoxicated by the Christians’ plague. But where has he gone?
JAIL. 1 A savage frenzy is driving this man out of his wits.
HYL. Has Caesar consigned Vitus to a bloody death? What Fury has unsheathed her wrath against my boy?
JAIL. 2 We should go to the forum. (Exit.)
HYL. Has he been so crazed as to display contempt of Jove? So let him die. Just Themis pursues a criminal. (He seizes chairs and whatever his frenzy brings to hand, and constructs a pyre.) I, his very own father, shall build a fire fed by this lumber around the cauldron’s sides. May this conflagration send its flames up to the stars, let the melted lead run liquid. More fuel for the fire! (He puffs his cheeks and blows.) My breath encourages the flames. Good. Let victorious Vulcan raise his head to heaven. On all sides let sparks lash the cauldron’s sides, and perish as they strike it. The liquid leaps up as it boils, inside it the power of the restless sea is raging. This peevish liquor rumbles and foams, it can no longer contain itself, and its fumes arise in a cloud. (He speaks to his son as if he were present.) Come now, you child disloyal to your father, to Caesar, and to almighty Jove, sink into the molten pitch. At length be softened, let your heart, as hard as untouchable adamant, finally learn to be melted by your father’s prayers, with the lead your professor. Lictor, keep him submerged in the boiling vat. What madness is driving his father? Am I impelled to rage against his guts? Am I a wolf, a tiger, a lion, or a sandbar, Charybdis, or chill flint? (Recalled to himself by his grief over this deed, he rages against Caesar’s servants, as if armed with every manner of weapon.) Who is it I see plunged in this bubbling pitch? Vitus? A sword, a spear, darts, arrows, torches. Let my hand ply itself this way and that, let these servants die. I must attack the priest. Do I have hold of his infernal person?
PAP. I’m Papinus. (Hylas seizes him by the throat, as if about to strangle him.)
HYL. Priest, pay your forfeits to me for the loss of my son. There is no refuge for you, if you try to flee.
PAP. Recognize me, I’m your servant.
HYL. And guilty of an unspeakable crime. Oh, the felony of a traitor’s perjured mind!
PAP. My mind’s untouched, and your servant’s faith undamaged. I do admit that at Caesar’s command I lodged false charges that my master was guilty of having an insincere heart. But the safety of both the father and the sun required this device. I thought that Vitus could be deceived by this misrepresentation. Nevertheless, the stubborn boy prevailed over my scheme.
HYL. Is my son plunged into a vat of pitch? Do you come to announce this dark calamity?
PAP. Where has your mind wandered? I am bringing glad tidings to a man who craves to hear them. A huge cauldron of molten lead stood in the public circus. The torturer fed much fuel to the fire. It grew hot, it bubbled, it raged, and the liquid, disdaining its enclosure, overflowed. A lictor took hold of the bound Vitus, —
HYL. A wretch, I’m dying.
PAP. — and tossed him in headlong. Cast into the lead, the boy swum around at the bottom of the boiling stuff. The liquid lamented with a sad groan and refused to rage against his chaste body. And then the torturer, imagining he was cooked enough and given over to death, saw him suddenly bob up, as Phoebus, glowing with his ruddy visage, rises from the waves to broadcast his daylight. Just so the boy rose up from the bubbling lead, a boy yet fairer with that delightful face of his. Caesar was present as a spectator and, swollen with rage, said, “Let him break free. Let a savage lion come out of its cage, tear apart the mage alive, and devour him after he has been torn in pieces.”
HYL. Oh, a father’s fate! Must one source of dread be followed by another?
PAP. Immediately a fiercely-glaring lion made its appearance, shaking the mane around its neck and shoulders. Prolonged hunger added its goads to his anger. As it swivelled its eyes here and there, looking for prey, it sought the boy with a gaping maw and a roar.
HYL. You’re killing his father. My heart is palpitating with dread.
PAP. Vitus stood still, unafraid, and challenged the beast with a smiling face. The lion came on at a rush, and seemed on the verge of seizing its prey in its great maw, when it gently fell down and, meekly licking the boy’s feet, lay there harmlessly.
HYL. Well, good.
PAP. A shout went up to high heaven. The fickle throng had divided opinions. A thousand men, taught to hate Jove by this miracle, went over to Christ’s laws.
HYL. His father is still hanging in uncertainty about the boy’s welfare.
PAP. But Caesar, impassioned by rage, command torments, until he gave up the ghost. The task of performing this bloody work was assigned to Urbanus.
HYL. It’s all over, we’re ruined. Urbanus’ fury is well known. What device can I invent? Tell me, what road should I take? Try to bribe the priest? But he’s thirsty for the boy’s blood. Rescue him by a show of force? I would fight in vain.
PAP. Rest easy and set aside your fear. The safety of the unconquered lad remains intact.
HYL. So why not hurry to the forum? Let the boy survive the scaffold and I shall forswear Jove. But if he is bested and spews forth his soul in death (I shudder at the omen), I am determined to penetrate to groves bristling with shadows, untrodden by any foot. I am determined to plunge my old age into misty squalor where the screech owl and the nightingale, singing its unlucky song, might sing along with a father’s plaints. But what’s this? Is the day suddenly growing dark? The gloom of night has covered the sky. My restless mind forecasts some great evil. We should hurry to the forum.
Diocletian is frightened by thunder (which he always dreaded) and the pangs of a guilty conscience.
DIO. Murk, shadows, pitch-black night, the stolen daylight! What man will relieve me of this burden of pain that lies on me with the weight of Etna? Who will relieve my mind, wounded by a savage scourge? Oh the mighty evil! Adversities touch even the man who overshadows the heavens with his proud head. I have always wretchedly shuddered at clouds, even on a sunny day, at its threats even when hidden behind a happy front, at poison hidden within honey, a storm, gales and whirlwinds within a calm sea. The common folk are obliged to call me Jove, the Augustus governs heaven and earth at his whim. All things go along well for Diocletian. But the happiness denied all men aloft on their pinnacles prevents him from being happy. Charybdis does not swallow and spew up as many floods with her whirlpool, that maiden who is the scourge of the Strait of Sicily does not drink down more waves, as many as the troubles that fly around me in my high position. Whether Apollo brings the day with his light or hides it at night, my heart is exposed to gnawing cares. My mind has no peace. Amidst royal feasts, amidst sports, joys, dancing, and amusements, amidst triumphs, there is always some owl which assaults my ears with its wild sound. My guilty mind is a torturer which wields its hidden flail, and my conscience, guilty of so many crimes, pricks me over and over. That Christian blood, shed worldwide, oh how often, how often it disturbs my rest and marks me over and over with the marks of a guilty mind! But what’s this? Is the earth collapsing? Is the globe splitting asunder? Heaven resounds with a terrible crash, shooting forth flashes of lightning. The universe is taking up arms against me. My limbs are quaking, my hair stands on end. My bones are being rattled, and, in my amazement, terror overcomes me. (With his bad conscience creating phantasms, he seems to be seeing those he has cruelly put to death.). Monsters out of Lerna! My faithful band of servants! Yawn, earth. Pluto, hide your head in the shadows, take away these terrifying specters. Go away, Marcellinus. Why frighten my poor self with that bloody torch. Go away, you throng of lesser priests, consumed by death at my direction. Oh, the heavy fate! Like a sailor in a storm — New monsters? Come down from heaven. Hercules, I pray you bury me under all the world’s rubble. Whom are you attacking with that hostile stake, Sebastian, bring a crowd of shades with you? Oh, hasten. Why are you standing there? Hasten. But enough has been granted the Furies, depart. Yet the lively image of that infernal specter remains. Oh, a disgrace to my greatness of heart! Am I, who have filled fields with carnage, the air with arrows, the skies with terror, and the halls of Dis with booty, to succumb to ghosts? Oh, today is teeming with monsters!
DIO. More monstrosities? (He assaults the high priest and knocks off his tiara.) Rage gives me strength.
URB. With your careless blow, Caesar, you knock off even my filleted glory.
DIO. You resist?
URB. Caesar, you must recognize I am the priest of Jove.
DIO. This empty vision is deluding me. Tell me, priest, has the boy died?
URB. He’s taken to the scaffold and enduring the rack. His hands are chained, his legs spread apart. The lictor is wearying his hand with the toilsome turning, devoted to his twisting. Here and there his limbs gape open, their sinews broken, his skin splits, his sides gape open, and blood springs from his veins. Now whatever nature hid in hidden recesses is exposed to the light of day: his liver, the cavity for his guts, and his sinews, their connections disjointed. Now, its mass in a state of collapse, his body awaits its final destruction, yet his guilty soul still clings to life. With his magic voice the boy whispers of Christ. Suddenly the sky roars, the heaven grows red, the earth is stricken and trembles. Black night possess the world, the sky dies. Of a sudden, the rack breaks and springs apart, everywhere my assistants fall. We f;ee, as a whirlwind carries the boy, joined to the old man, upwards through the sky.
DIO. “We flee,” you say? I swear by the Acheron, today you die, unless you bring those guilty men to me. Go, search through places that are locked, hidden, far distant, impenetrable. You hesitate, villain?
LUP. Oh Caesar, the bitter misfortune! Stricken by lightning, Jove’s temple has tumbled down.
TRIB. Augustus, Crispus is dead.
DIO. You may die too, to keep him company. Oh dire day with its unlucky light! For once I must confess, I am defeated. Having claimed the world, Christ will be hymned as God, grumble though I might.
Vitus and Modestus are rescued from their torments by an angel, and are returned to Lucania, whence they came, and there they die peacefully.
They are seen amidst clouds.
ANG. At last you are permitted to look down on the Romans’ houses and the world beneath you. Your tormentors’ hands are defeated, their scaffolds broken, angry Domitian’s rage has been dominated.
MOD. But the honor of the victorious palm has been stolen from us.
VIT. Where are you hastenen us through these airy spaces, forbidding us to making an end to our sufferings with the death we crave?
ANG. Enough of struggle, Modestus. You have given proof of your pious fidelity by the blood you shed, and as a victor you may gain your eternal palace. Do not think yourself cheated of the red gown of a martyr, Vitus, even it is denied you to die the death by torture that you crave. The laurel remains for those who have suffered great things, yet God has chosen for you to die a serene death, rescued from the tyrant’s clutches. Now, carried through the shining aether on a cloud, we are being transported to the place whence you departed for the seven-hilled city. There you will be permitted to live your last day. You will be permitted to be borne to the stars on a triumphal car. No man who suffers defends the Faith in vain. The victory-palm awaits you for fighting the good fight.