SS Vitus, Modesta and Crecentia

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Saint Of The Day

Martyrs. The cult of these fourth century saints is very ancient, but few facts are known about their lives.

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. Historians think it is probable that Modesta and Crescentia were from Sicily, while Vitus came from Lucania. From an early age Vitus 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. The Benedictines brought the devotion to the three martyrs to Poland, where a 15th century church on the site of a much earlier one, in Sierpc is dedicated to them. An ancient church in Rome on the Esquilline is also dedicated to St Vitus. His relics were claimed by Saint-Denis in Paris and Corvey in Saxony.