St Vitus (memorial, 15 June)

circa 1515
St Vitus was from Sicily and was martyred during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. The entry in the Martyrology reads:
In Basilicata, near the river Silaro, the birthday of the holy martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, who were brought thither from Sicily, in the reign of Diocletian, and after being plunged into a vessel of melted lead, after being exposed to the beasts, and on the pillory, from which torments they escaped uninjured through the power of God, they ended their religious combats. 
St Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of medieval Roman Catholicism.

In the late Middle Ages, people in Germany and countries such as Latvia celebrated the feast of Vitus by dancing before his statue. This dancing became popular and the name "Saint Vitus Dance" was given to the neurological disorder Sydenham's chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general.


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