St Vitus

Martyr (entered heaven around 300)

Dear Vicky,

Glad to hear that you’ll be doing summer stock theatre during this vacation – no better way to get a taste of what the acting life is really like.  I do hope you’re producing some decent shows, though, not some horrible and sin-ridden theatrical events. In any case, don’t let Sunday morning rehearsals drive Mass out of your schedule – if you start preferring the limelight to the sanctuary lamp you’ll end up in the dark.

Appropriately enough, today’s saint is the patron of actors and dancers.  (By the way, “patron saint” just means a saint whose personal life-experience relates to a general category of life-experience, and since the saint achieved holiness and eternal life through that particular life-experience, he or she is considered a singularly apt model and intercessor for others following a similar path.  Thus, for instance, St Francis de Sales made remarkable use of mass-produced pamphlets to win souls back to the Church and has since been named thw patron saint of journalists and writers.) Also appropriate is the reason why Vitus is the patron of actors and dancers.

When his relics made their way to northern Germany, five hundred years after his death, God reportedly worked numerous miracles through them, most especially curing some pronounced cases of epilepsy and another nervous problem called (for obvious reasons) St Vitus’s Dance.  Since most actors at the time were also dancers, he became their patron… don’t ever accuse God of not having a sense of humor. By a happy coincidence, St Vitus is also traditionally invoked against oversleeping – a common ailment among artists and actors (from which you have always suffered: of all your cousins, only you could not get out of bed even on Christmas morning).

In all seriousness, however, we have a lot to learn from Vitus’s example.  He became a Christian as a boy during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian, along with his tutor and a servant.  He tried to keep it secret to avoid his father’s wrath, but the steady stream of converts and even miracles that followed in his wake attracted public attention, and he was encouraged to abjure his faith by enticement and (when that failed) torture.  The threesome soon escaped and took a boat to southern Italy, where they continued to spread the faith. But in Rome, he again refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, and so was martyred.

Just a child, and yet he suffered so much for the sake of the Kingdom!  Keep him in mind, and ask for his prayers when you find it difficult to accept the ridicule or ostracism that will come when you refuse to participate in the intemperate pastimes of your fellow thespians (theatre people, though creative, intelligent, and lively, tend to be intemperate).  Keep your faith strong, my talented young niece, and it will carry you through all of life’s storms; but let it wane, and you’ll soon crash on the shoals.

God bless, Uncle Eddy  (P.S. Send me the reviews if you can.)

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