St Vitus and St Crecentia

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Martyrs. The cult of these fourth century saints is very ancient, but few facts are known about their lives. Historians think it is probable that Modesta and Crescentia lived in Sicily, while St Vitus came from Lucania.

According to tradition, St Vitus became Christian as a child, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. Modesta and Crescentia were his tutor and nurse. He soon gained a reputation for holiness and the power to work miracles.

The Roman authorities tried to convert him back to paganism, but he refused to give up his faith. On one occasion when he was thrown to a hungry lion, he stroked the animal and it licked him affectionately.

St Vitus is a patron of epileptics and those suffering from other seizures such as Sydenham's Chorea (St Vitus' Dance). He also protects against poisoning by dog or snake bite and is a patron of dancers and actors.

Most mediaeval abbeys in England celebrated St Vitus without Crescentia. An ancient church in Rome on the Esquilline is dedicated to him. His relics were claimed by Saint-Denis in Paris and Corvey in Saxony.

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