St. Lucia (St. Lucy)
Patron Saint of the Blind and Eye Disorders
Feast Day :Dec. 13
The prayer of St. Lucy
Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see.
We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives.
Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation… every corner of our day.
If you grew up in a Scandinavian household, you surely know about the tradition of Santa Lucia Day. During this holiday tradition, which takes place on Dec. 13, the eldest daughter of the family dons a white robe, red sash and beautiful crown of holly that is lit by seven candles. Once garbed, she wakes the rest of the family for a winter breakfast of homemade pastries.
St. Lucia (or St. Lucy) was born to a wealthy Sicilian family in 283 AD. Her father was Roman but died when Lucia was still a child. Her Greek mother was left to raise her children alone.
Sadly, Lucia’s mother was quite sickly. Afraid for her mother’s failing health, Lucia began to pray to St. Agatha, a recently martyred saint, who was credited with many miraculous healings. Through Lucia’s prayer, her mother was cured.
Although Lucia was not born a Christian, this miraculous event led Lucia to convert to the faith. As a symbol of her commitment to her new-found faith, Lucia vowed to remain a virgin.
The first centuries after Jesus’s death on the cross were dangerous times for those who believed in Him. Because it was so dangerous to be a Christian, Lucia practiced her faith quietly, believing that she could do more to help other Christians if she remained a silent witness.
Many Christians of the time literally went underground to avoid being killed—into caves, caverns and tunnels in and around the cities. In the caves, they shared a richness in faith, but they suffered from great poverty, illness and hunger. Lucia would bring food to the starving Christians, her way lit by a wreath of candles on her head.
Lucia was a beautiful young woman, and many men sought her hand in marriage. Despite her wish to remain a virgin, she was betrothed to a covetous pagan man who admired Lucia more for her family’s wealth than anything else. She fought but, after three years, her suitor became adamant and demanded that Lucia succumb to his wish. In an act of defiance, Lucia used her dowry money to buy food and clothing for the poor. Her fiancé, in a bitter rage, informed city officials that Lucia was a Christian. When asked if this was true, Lucia proudly proclaimed her faith.
Because of Lucia’s vow of chastity, the officials decided that selling her into prostitution would be most embarrassing and devastating to the young lady. When the officials came to take her to the brothel, they found she could not be moved, almost as if she were made of heavy cement. Since they could not move Lucia, they decided to burn her alive. They placed wood around her and lit the fire. But she did not burn and continued to proclaim her Christian faith. In their frustration, the officials finally stabbed her in the throat, killing and silencing her.
It is hard to imagine that a Saint who was martyred in such a gruesome manner would one day become associated with such joyful celebration. But each Dec. 13, Lucia’s legacy of bringing light and hope into a dark world continues. For hers was the light of Christ.
Father Scott Donahue
is the president of
Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.