St. Vitus Day
Observed annually on June 28th, St. Vitus Day is a holiday observed in Serbia and is both a religious and national holiday. It is a memorial day in the Serbian Orthodox Church that serves as a memorial day to Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian martyrs who died during the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Empire on June 15, 1389, on the Julian calendar—which is approximately June 28th on the Gregorian calendar.
Although the Ottomans suffered heavy losses, they eliminated all the forces of Prince Lazar, and this led to Ottoman control of the region for centuries.
The History of St. Vitus’ Day
Since St. Vitus Day is both a feast day and a Serbian memorial day, it is worth taking the time to talk about both aspects of it. St. Vitus was the son of a Sicilian senator and became a Christian at the age of 12 years old. Word of his miracles and conversions began to spread across Sicily and eventually became known to the administrator of Sicily. The administrator brought Vitus before him and attempted to shake his faith—an act that failed.
Vitus would flee to Rome, however, and ended up freeing Emperor Diocletian’s son of an evil spirit, according to legend. His cure was attributed to sorcery, and he was tortured but eventually was freed. They would head back to Lucania, where he eventually died of his wounds from torture.
Vidovdan, another name for this holiday, can be traced back to 1389 when the Ottoman army engaged the Serbian army during the Battle of Kosovo. Both Serbian Prince Lazar and Ottoman Sultan Murad were slain during the battle. While the Ottomans suffered heavy losses, Prince Lazar’s forces were completely eliminated. Since then, this holiday has been an important cornerstone in the national identity of Serbia.