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Thursday, June 15, 2017
Sts. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia

Simple (1954 Calendar): June 15

St. Vitus, born of an illustrious Sicilian family, was arrested with his tutor and his nurse. After many sufferings, they were martyred A.D. 303. In the Middle Ages St. Vitus was declared one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and came to be considered as the special patron of those inflicted with nervous disorders.

The following is taken from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger:

One of the titles of this Divine Spirit who is reigning so specially over this portion of the Cycle is the Witness of the Word (John xv. 26). Thus was He announced to the world by the Man-God Himself when about to quit it in order to return to His Father after having on His part rendered His own great testimony to Sovereign Truth (John xviii. 37). Formed by the Holy Ghost on the type of Jesus Christ, the faithful too are witnesses whose mission is to trample on lying error, the enemy of God, by expressing the Truth, not in words only but in deeds. There is a testimony however, that is not given to all to render: this is the Testimony of blood. The martyrs hold this privilege, this is the special stand granted to them in the ceaseless battle ever being waged betwixt Truth and Falsehood, and this battle is the sum total of all History. Hence Martyrs come crowding on the brilliant heavens of Holy Church at this season. In a few days the Church will be all thrilling with gladness at the birth of Saint John the Baptist, that man great beyond all men (Matthew xi. 11), and whose greatness specially consists in that he was sent by God to be a witness, to give testimony of the Light (John i. 6, 8). We will then meditate at leisure on these thoughts for which we seem to be prepared by the ever swelling groups of joyous martyrs who cross our path as it were to announce the near approach of the Friend of the Bridegroom (John iii. 29).

Today we have Vitus, accompanied by his faithful foster-parents, Modestus and Crescentia. He is but a child, yet he comes teaching us the price of Baptism and the fidelity we owe to our Father in Heaven despite all else beside. Great is his glory, both on Earth and in Heaven. The demons who used to tremble before him in life still continue their dread of him. His name remains ineffacably inscribed on the memory of the Christian people, just as that of a Saint Elmo or Erasmus, among their most potent “helpers” in daily needs. Saint Vitus, or more commonly Saint Guy, is invoked to deliver those who are attacked by that lamentable sickness which is named from him, as also to neutralise bad effects from the bite of a mad dog, and his beneficence is evinced even to the dumb brutes also. He is likewise implored in cases of lethargy, or unduly prolonged sleep. For this reason, the cock is his distinctive attribute in Christian art, as well as because recourse is usually had to this Saint when one wants to awake at some particular hour.

YOU have won the battle, glorious Martyrs! The struggle was not long, but it gained for you an eternal crown! You have purchased to yourselves, O Modestus and Crescentia, the everlasting gratitude of your God Himself, for to Him you faithfully gave back the precious charge committed to your keeping in the person of that dear child who became your very own through Faith and Baptism. And you too, noble boy, who preferred your Father in Heaven to your earthly parent, who may tell the caressing tenderness lavished on you eternally by Him whom before men you did so unflinchingly own to be your true Father? Even here below He is pleased to load you with striking marks of His munificence, for to you he confides, on a large scale, the exercise of His merciful power. Because of that holy liberty which reigned in your soul from reason’s earliest dawn by which your body was subjected to your soul’s control, you now hold over fallen nature a marvellous power. Unhappy sufferers whose distorted limbs are worked violently at the caprice of a cruel malady, and are no longer mastered by the will or, on the other hand, those who are rendered powerless and no longer free to act by reason of resistless sleep: all these recover at your feet, that perfect harmony of soul and body, that needful docility of the material to the spiritual, by which man may freely attend to the duties incumbent on him, whether as regards God or his neighbour. Vouchsafe to be ever more and more lavish in the granting of these favours, which are the precious gifts specially at your disposal, for the good of suffering mankind, and for the greater glory of your God who has given you an eternal crown. We implore you, in the words of the Church and by your merits, that God may destroy in us that pride which spoils the equilibrium of man himself and makes him deviate from his path. May it be granted us to have a thorough contempt of evil for thus is restored to man, liberty in love: superbe non sapere, sed placita humilitate proficere, ut prava despiciens, quoecumque recta sunt libera exerceat charitate.


Grant to Thy Church, O Lord, we beseech Thee, through the intercession of Thy holy Martyrs Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia, not to be highminded, but to advance in that humility which is pleasing in Thy sight, that despising such things as be evil, she may practice with overflowing charity whatsoever things are right. Through our Lord . . .


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