Spirituality for Today – June 2011 – Volume 15, Issue 11

Saint of the Month
St. Vitus, June 15

An image of Saint VitusSaint Vitus

The son of a senator, Vitus was left in the care of Crescentia, a nurse, and her husband Modestus. The devout Christian couple raised Vitus in their faith and the boy responded enthusiastically.

Vitus's pagan father tried to force him to abandon his beliefs, and it is said that he may have even tortured his son. But Vitus would not renounce Christianity. Instead, Vitus, Crescentia and Modestus fled Sicily.

The trio reached Lucania, Italy; then they traveled on to Rome. Supposedly, Vitus then exorcised a demon from the son of Emperor Diocletian. The emperor, however, was not grateful. He accused Vitus of sorcery and had him and his two companions tortured and condemned to die. What followed varies among legends.

There seems no doubt that the three faithful followers of Christ were martyred by Diocletian. Some accounts say that after Vitur's death, an angel took him, Crescentia and Modestus back to Lucania, where they died of their wounds. The three martyrs were soon venerated in southern Italy and Sicily.

During the Middle Ages, the cult of Vitus spread throughout Europe. Christians suffering from various disorders prayed for his intercession. These included people with epilepsy or other neurological problems that resulted in violent seizures or spasms. One of these illnesses, chorea, became known as St. Vitus's Dance. The saint was also invoked for victims of snakebites and mad dogs. In Germany, Vitus is revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, who are called upon to cure diseases and offer salvation to those near death.

Dear God,
through your son Jesus Christ,
You touched the soul of Vitus
and gave him Your love
and the promise of everlasting life.
In return, he sacrificed himself for Jesus
and His message of salvation.
Grant that I may always find in myself
the same deep faith that filled Vitus,
and the courage to do what is right
and just in Your eyes.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives