Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, Ss.

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Martyrs. They appear to be victims of the persecution of Diocletian and are mentioned in the martyrology of st. jerome. Vitus appears in the old Sacramentarium Gelasianum, while Modestus and Crescentia were added in the Roman Missal (Milan 1474). Various copies of the passio do not merit credence, but according to them Vitus was born in Sicily or Lucania. His Christian nurse was Crescentia and her husband, Modestus. Since the fifth century churches were dedicated to St. Vitus in Rome, Sicily, and Sardinia. In the Middle Ages his cult spread, especially among Germans and Slavs, for his miraculous power against epilepsy, which was called "St. Vitus dance"; and for this reason he was enumerated among the "auxiliary saints" or 14 Holy Helpers. St. Vitus's relics were first taken to Saint Denis in Paris (c. 750), then to Corvey in Saxony (836); the head was taken from Pavia to Prague in 1355 by the Emperor Charles IV. Vitus is usually represented as immersed in a burning cauldron, or as holding a small one in his hand and a dog on a leash.

Feast: June 15.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum June 2:101342. Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, 2 v. (Brussels 18981901; suppl. 1911) 871123. j. braun, Tracht und Attribute der Heiligen in der deutschen Kunst (Stuttgart 1943) 728738. p. bruylants, Les Oraisons du Missel Romain, 2 v. (Louvain 1952) 1:107. a. paner, Swiety Wit (Gdansk 1995).

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