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Saint Vitus, from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493
|Martyr, Holy Helper|
|Died||c. 303 (age 12–13)
Lucania, modern-day Basilicata, Italy
Roman Catholic Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
|Attributes||depicted in a cauldron, with a rooster or a lion|
|Patronage||actors; comedians; Rijeka, Croatia; Czechoslovakia; dancers; dogs; epilepsy; Mazara del Vallo, Sicily; Forio, Ischia; oversleeping; Prague, Czech Republic; rheumatic chorea (Saint Vitus Dance); Serbia; snake bites; storms; Vacha, Germany; Zeven, Lower Saxony; Het Gooi, the Netherlands; E Clampus Vitus|
Saint Vitus //, according to Christian legend, 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 medieval Roman Catholicism. 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 Sydenham's chorea. It also led to Vitus being considered the patron saint of dancers and of entertainers in general.
Vitus is considered the patron saint of actors, comedians, dancers, and epileptics, similarly to Genesius of Rome. He is also said to protect against lightning strikes, animal attacks and oversleeping. 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 Belgium.
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