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Saint Vitus was a Christian saint from Sicily. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Roman Catholic Church.

Saint Vitus' Day is celebrated on 15 June. In places where the Julian Calendar is used, this date coincides, in the 20th and 21st centuries, with 28 June on the Gregorian Calendar.

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 chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general.[1]

Vitus is considered the patron saint of actors, comedians, dancers, and epileptics. He is also said to protect against lightning strikes, animal attacks and oversleeping, and is the patron saint of Bohemia. Vitus is the patron saint of the city of Rijeka in Croatia, the towns of Ciminna in Sicily, Forio on the Island of Ischia, in Campania, Italy, the contrada of San Vito, in Torella dei Lombardi, in Avellino, Italy, the town of Winschoten in the Netherlands, and the town of St. Vith located in Belgian.

Various places in Austria and Bavaria are named Sankt Veit in his honour.


Martyrdom of Saints Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia

According to the legend, Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia were martyrs under Diocletian. The earliest testimony for their veneration is offered by the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (ed. G. B. de Rossi-Louis Duchesne, 78: "In Sicilia, Viti, Modesti et Crescentiae"). The fact that the note is in the three most important manuscripts indicates that it was also in the common exemplar of these, will appeared in the fifth century. The same Martyrologium has under the same day another mention of a Vitus at the head of a list of nine martyrs, with the statement of the place, "In Lucania", that is, in the Roman province of that name in Southern Italy between the Tuscan Sea and the Gulf of Taranto. It is easily possible that it is the same martyr Vitus in both cases.

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