Saint Lucy (Saint Lucia) VIRGIN, MARTYR



Saint Lucy (283–304), also known as Saint Lucia, was a wealthy young Christian martyr who is venerated as a saint by Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christians. Her feast day in the West is 13 December; with a name derived from lux, lucis "light", she is the patron saint of those who are blind. 

Saint Lucy is one of seven women, aside from the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. Hagiography tells us that Lucy was a Christian during the Diocletian persecution. She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily. Miraculously unable to move her or burn her, the guards took out her eyes with a fork. In another version, Lucy's would-be husband admired her eyes, so she tore them out and gave them to him, saying, "Now let me live to God".

The oldest record of her story comes from the fifth-century accounts of saints' lives.By the 6th century, her story was widespread, so that she appears in the Sacramentary of Pope Gregory I.At the opening of the 8th century Aldhelm included a brief account of her life among the virgins praised in De laude virginitatis, and in the following century the Venerable Bede included her in his Martyrology. In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy's eyes are gouged out prior to her execution. In art, her eyes sometimes appear on a tray that she is holding.
Until 1861 relics of Saint Lucy were venerated in a church dedicated to her in Venice ; after its demolition, they were transferred to the church of San Geremia.

The Roman Catholic calendar of saints formerly had a commemoration of Saints Lucy and Geminianus on 16 September. This was removed in 1969, as a duplication of the feast of her dies natalis on 13 December and because the Geminianus in question, mentioned in the Passio of Saint Lucy, seems to be a merely fictitious figure, unrelated to the Geminianus whose feast is on 31 January.

Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery and fortitude, legends grew up, reported in the acta Her Roman father died when she was young, leaving her and her mother without a protecting guardian. Her mother, Eutychia, had suffered four years with dysentery but Lucy had heard the renown of Saint Agatha, the patroness of Catania, "and when they were at a Mass, one read a gospel that made mention of a woman who was healed of the dysentery by touching of the hem of the coat of Jesus Christ," which, according to the Legenda Aurea, convinced her mother to pray together at Saint Agatha's tomb. They stayed up all night praying, until they fell asleep, exhausted. Saint Agatha appeared in a vision to Lucy and said, "Soon you shall be the glory of Syracuse, as I am of Catania." At that instant Eutychia was cured. that are associated with her name. All the details are conventional ones also associated with other female martyrs of the early 4th century.

Eutychia had arranged a marriage for Lucy with a pagan bridegroom, but Lucy urged that the dowry be spent on alms so that she might retain her virginity. Euthychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered, "...whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death." News that the patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to the ears of Lucy's betrothed, who heard from a chattering nurse that Lucy had found a nobler Bridegroom.

Her rejected pagan bridegroom denounced Lucy as a Christian to the magistrate Paschasius, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor's image. Lucy replied that she had given all that she had: "I offer to Him myself, let Him do with His offering as it pleases Him." Sentenced to be defiled in a brothel, Lucy asserted:

No one's body is polluted so as to endanger the soul if it has not pleased the mind. If you were to lift my hand to your idol and so make me offer against my will, I would still be guiltless in the sight of the true God, who judges according to the will and knows all things. If now, against my will, you cause me to be polluted, a twofold purity will be gloriously imputed to me. You cannot bend my will to your purpose; whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me.


The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away they found her so filled with the Holy Spirit that she was as stiff and heavy as a mountain; they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Even after implanting a dagger through her throat she prophesied against her persecutor. Unfounded, and absent in the many narratives and traditions, at least until the 15th century, is the story of Lucia tortured by eye-gouging. The emblem of the eyes on the cup, or plate, must be linked simply to popular devotion to her, as protector of sight, because of her name, Lucia (from the latin word "lux" which means "light"). In paintings St. Lucy is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate.

Lucy was represented in Gothic art holding a dish with two eyes on it (illustration above). The legend concludes with God restoring Lucy's eyes.

Dante also mentions Lucia in Inferno Canto II as the messenger "of all cruelty the foe" sent to Beatrice from "The blessed Dame" (Divine Mercy), to rouse Beatrice to send Virgil to Dante's aid. She has instructed Virgil to guide Dante through Hell and Purgatory. Lucia is only referenced indirectly in Virgil's discourse within the narrative and doesn't appear. According to Robert Harrison, Professor in Italian Literature at Stanford University and Rachel Jacoff, Professor of Italian Studies at Wellesley, Lucia's appearance in this intermediary role is to reinforce the scene in which Virgil attempts to fortify Dante's courage to begin the journey through the Inferno.


Lucy may also be seen as a figure of Illuminating Grace or Mercy or even Justice. Nonetheless Dante obviously regarded Lucia with great reverence, placing her opposite Adam within the Mystic Rose in Canto XXXII of the Paradiso.


In Mark Musa's translation of Dante's Purgatorio, it is noted that Lucy was admired by an undesirable suitor for her beautiful eyes. To stay chaste she plucked out her own eyes, a great sacrifice for which God gave her a pair of even more beautiful eyes. It is said in Sweden that to vividly celebrate St. Lucy's Day will help him/her live the long winter days with enough light.

Lucy's name also played a large part in naming Lucy as a patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble. She was the patroness of Syracuse in Sicily, Italy.
Relics

Sigebert (1030–1112), a monk of Gembloux, in his sermo de Sancta Lucia, chronicled that her body lay undisturbed in Sicily for 400 years, before Faroald II, Duke of Spoleto, captured the island and transferred the body to Corfinium in the Abruzzo, Italy. From there it was removed by the Emperor Otho I in 972 to Metz and deposited in the church of St. Vincent. It was from this shrine that an arm of the saint was taken to the monastery of Luitburg in the Diocese of Speyer - an incident celebrated by Sigebert himself in verse.

The subsequent history of the relics is not clear. On their capture of Constantinople in 1204, the French found some relics attributed to Saint Lucy in the city, and Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice, secured them for the monastery of St. George at Venice. In 1513 the Venetians presented to Louis XII of France the saint's head, which he deposited in the cathedral church of Bourges. Another account, however, states that the head was brought to Bourges from Rome where it had been transferred during the time when the relics rested in Corfinium. The remainder of the relics remain in Venice: they were transferred to the church of San Geremia when the church of Santa Lucia was demolished in the 19th century to make way for the new railway terminus. A century later, on 7 November 1981, thieves stole all her bones, except her head. Police recovered them five weeks later, on her feast day. Other parts of the corpse have found their way to Rome, Naples, Verona, Lisbon, Milan, as well as Germany and France.

Popular celebration

Her brief day was commonly thought to be the shortest day of the year, as can be seen in John Donne's poem, "A Nocturnal upon St. Lucie's Day, being the shortest day" (1627). The poem begins with: "'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's," and expresses, in a mourning piece, the withdrawal of the world-spirit into sterility and darkness, where "The world's whole sap is sunk." .

This timing, and her name meaning light, is a factor in the particular devotion to St. Lucy in Scandinavian countries, where young girls dress as the saint in honor of the feast. A special devotion to St. Lucy is present in the Italian regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, in the North of the country, and Sicily, in the South.

The feast is a Catholic celebrated holiday with roots that can be traced back to Sicily. On 13th of every December it is celebrated with large traditional feasts of home made pasta and various other Italian dishes, with a special desert of wheat in hot chocolate milk. The large grains of soft wheat are representative of her eyes and are a treat only to be indulged in once a year.


THE FOLLOWING IS FROM BUTLER'S LIVES OF THE SAINTS:

 [Abridged from her Acts, older than St. Aldhelm, who quoted them in the seventh century.]
A.D. 304.


 THE glorious virgin and martyr St. Lucy, one of the brightest ornaments of the church of Sicily, was born of honourable and wealthy parents in the city of Syracusa,  and educated from her cradle in the faith of Christ. She lost her father in her infancy, but Eutychia, her mother, took singular care to furnish her with tender and sublime sentiments of piety and religion. By the early impressions which Lucy received, and the strong influence of divine grace, Lucy discovered no disposition but toward virtue, and she was yet very young when she offered to God the flower of her virginity. This vow, however, she kept a secret, and her mother, who was a stranger to it, pressed her to marry a young gentleman who was a pagan. The saint sought occasions to hinder this design from taking effect, and her mother was visited with a long and troublesome flux of blood, under which she laboured four years, without finding any remedy by recourse to physicians. At length she was persuaded by her daughter to go to Catana, and offer up her prayers to God for relief at the tomb of St. Agatha. St. Lucy accompanied her thither, and their prayers were successful. Hereupon our saint disclosed to her mother her desire of devoting herself to God in a state of perpetual virginity, and bestowing her fortune on the poor : and Eutychia, in gratitude, left her at full liberty to pursue her pious inclinations. The young nobleman with whom the mother had treated about marrying her,  came to understand this by the sale of her jewels and goods, and the distribution of the price among the poor, and in his rage accused her before the governor Paschasius as a Christian, the persecution of Diodesian then raging with the utmost fury. The judge commanded the holy virgin to be exposed to prostitution in a brothel-house; but God rendered her immovable, so that the guards were not able to carry her thither. He also made her an over-match for the cruelty of the persecutors, in overcoming fire and other torments. After a long and glorious combat, she died in prison, of the wounds she had received, about the year 304. She was honoured at Rome in the sixth century among the most illustrious virgins and martyrs, whose triumphs the church celebrates, as appears from the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, Bede, and others. Her festival was kept in England, till the change of religion, as a holy day of the second rank, in which no work but tillage or the like was allowed. Her body remained at Syracusa for many years ; but was at length translated into Italy, and thence, by the authority of the Emperor Otho I., to Metz, as Sigebert of Gemblours relates. It is there exposed to public veneration in a rich chapel of St. Vincent's Church. A portion of her relics was carried to Constantinople, and brought thence to Venice, where it is kept with singular veneration. St. Lucy is often painted with the balls of her eyes laid in a dish : perhaps her eyes were defaced or plucked out, though her present acts make no mention of any such circumstance. In many places her intercession is particularly implored for distempers of the eyes. 

    It is a matter of the greatest consequence what ideas are stamped upon the ductile minds of children, what sentiments are impressed on their hearts, and to what habits they are first formed. Let them be inured to little denials both in their will and senses, and learn that pleasures whichgratify the senses must be guarded against, and used with great fear and moderation : for by them the taste is debauched, and the constitution of the soul broken and spoiled much more fatally than that of the body can be by means contrary to its health.
    There are few Lucies now-a-days among Christian ladies, because sensuality, pride, and vanity are instilled into their minds by the false maxims and pernicious ex-ample of those with whom they first con-verse. Alas ! unless a constant watch-fulness and restraint both produce and strengthen good habits, the inclinations of our souls lean of their own accord toward corruption.


REFLECTION.—The Saints had to bear sufferings and temptations greater far than yours. How did they overcome them? By the love of Christ. Nourish this pure love by meditating on the mysteries of Christ's life; and, above all, by devotion to the Holy Eucharist, which is the antidote against sin and the pledge of eternal life.  
 
INTERCESSORY PRAYER:  Saint Lucy is the patron of eye sufferers.  Today pray to Saint Lucy to heal those people afflicted with eye disease; pray for the healing of their eyes.


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