|(in ancient Rome) one of the four, later six, virgin priestesses whose lives were dedicated to Vesta and to maintaining the sacred fire in her temple|
Women in ancient Rome who took vows of chastity and tended the sacred flame in the temple of the goddess Vesta. Their group numbered six at any one time. A vestal virgin could marry after her term of service was over, but to do so was considered bad luck. A vestal virgin who lost her virginity during her term of service was punished by being buried alive.