St. Vitus’s Day
Vitus is the patron saint of Bohemia, and one of the Fourteen teen Auxiliary Saints. Early legends have him as a child martyr from Lucania or Sicily. However, the later myths retell of his life as an adult. The most popular story has him being boiled in oil, thrown to lions, and stretched on the rack, only to emerge unscathed and die peacefully at home in Lucania. He was said to have caused or cured the Tanzwut, or dancing mania, in which wild leaps and gyrations, often to music, led to mass fainting, especially among girls and young women. This spectacle has often been compared to the hysteria that takes place at modern rock concerts. His legacy remains as “St. Vitus’s dance,” the name given to the nervous disorder or disease technically known as Sydenham’s chorea. Vitus is the patron saint of dancers, and his emblem is the fighting cock.