emblem is a cock or a dog, and he is patron of dogs.
In art, he is shown as a boy with a rooster and a cauldron, or with
Modestus and Crescentia as they refuse to worship idols. He may be shown
being put into an oven; with a palm and cauldron; with a palm and dog;
with a chalice and dog; with sword and dog; with a sword and rooster; with
a book and rooster; with a wolf or lion; or as a young prince with a palm
and sceptre (Roeder, source).
Somehow a chapel near
Ulm was dedicated to him, and to this chapel annually came women who were
ill with a nervous or hysterical affliction. This came to be called St
Vitus's Dance. Perhaps this term was extended to other similar muscular
After St Vitus and his
companions were martyred, and their heads enclosed in a church wall, they
were forgotten. Years later in renovations, the heads were discovered, and
the bells started tolling of themselves. The heads caused miracles to
occur. Or, so it is said.
times in England, chickens were sacrificed on this day to avert the
disease. On this day, like St Swithin's, if it rains it will rain for
many more days.
Vitus Diena was held in medieval Latvia to commemorate the
last day of planting. Rain on this day signified a bountiful crop, as well
as the first appearances of bees and flies.
St Vitus's Dance
In the 17th
Germany it was believed that good health could be assured by dancing in
front of a statue of the saint on his feast day.
Such dancing to excess
is said to have come to be confused with chorea, hence its name, St Vitus's Dance, for the saint
is invoked against it.
celebrations were held at around this time, with wild dancing. The day on
which the dancing was centred was
christianized as the Feast of St John the Baptist, patron of Aix-la-Chapelle
(Aachen), and German people thronged there on his day, June 24, for the
dancing. In 1374 the Rhine flooded and the dancing of the peasants, whose
lives were sorely afflicted beyond their normal poverty, went wild.
The 'dancing madness' became known as St John's
Dance and the mania spread after a few months to Maastricht, Utrecht,
Liege and elsewhere. The mania died out after six months in the Low
Countries. In Germany the authorities tried to suppress it but it
continued for centuries. The dance was recorded in 1518; later it came to
be called St Vitus's Dance.
"His nurse Crescentia, who supposedly converted him to
Christianity, seems an emblem of the Moon goddess, the crescent moon, and his
name ('life' in Latin) indicates that he too is a spurious saint. He was
especially venerated in Westphalia, where bones said to be his had rested since
the ninth century AD., though his legend assigned him to the time of Diocletian,
six hundred years earlier." Source