Saint of the Day – 13 December – St Lucy/Lucia of Syracuse (c 283-304) Virgin and Martyr – Patron of the blind, eye disorders, martyrs, Perugia, Italy, Malta; epidemics; salesmen, Syracuse, Italy, throat infections, writers, against fire, against poverty, against spiritual blindness, peasants, penitent prostitutes, poor people, sick children, authors, cutlers, farmers, glass blowers, glass makers, glaziers, labourers, lawyer, maid servants, notaries, ophthalmologists, opticians, porters, printers, saddler, sailors, salesmen, seamstresses, stained glass workers, tailors, upholsterers, weavers and 10 further towns and cities. Attributes – • cord• eyes• eyes on a dish• lamp• swords• woman hitched to a yoke of oxen• woman in the company of Saint Agatha, Saint Agnes of Rome, Barbara, Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Thecla• woman kneeling before the tomb of Saint Agatha
All that is really known for certain of Lucy is that she was a martyr in Syracuse during the Diocletianic Persecution of 304 AD. Her veneration spread to Rome and by the 6th century to the whole Church. The oldest archaeological evidence comes from the Greek inscriptions from the catacombs of St. John in Syracuse.
St Lucy was born in Sicily and died during the persecution of Diocletian. The fact that she is still mentioned in the first Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass shows the great respect that the Church has for her. One story about Lucy is that she is said to have made a vow to remain unmarried. When the man to whom she was engaged found out, he turned her in as a Christian. After torture that included having her eyes torn out, she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afire; they went out. She prophesied against her persecutors and was executed by being stabbed to death with a dagger. She was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304. Her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.
One can easily imagine what a young Christian woman had to contend with in pagan Sicily in the year 300. If you have trouble imagining, just glance at today’s pleasure-at-all-costs world and the barriers it presents against leading a good Christian life.
Her friends must have wondered aloud about this hero of Lucy’s, an obscure itinerant preacher in a far-off captive nation that had been destroyed more than 200 years before. Once a carpenter, He had been crucified by the Roman soldiers after his own people turned Him over to the Roman authorities. Lucy believed with her whole soul that this man had risen from the dead. Heaven had put a stamp on all He said and did. To give witness to her faith she had made a vow of virginity.
What a hubbub this caused among her pagan friends! The kindlier ones just thought her a little strange. To be pure before marriage was an ancient Roman ideal, rarely found but not to be condemned. To exclude marriage altogether, however, was too much. She must have something sinister to hide, the tongues wagged.
Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs in particular St Agatha to whom she prayed for intercession. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God.
Lucy, whose name means “light” kept the light of her loyal faith burning through the experience of death. Now she is enjoying the eternal wedding banquet.