St. Lucia’s Day

Today is my nameday, the feast of St. Lucy.

Saint Lucy came from a wealthy Sicilian family and was born in the end of 3rd century. Rejecting marriage and worldly goods (she’d benevolently give away all the family’s wealth and devote herself to help the presecuted Christians), she vowed to remain a virgin, which angered her suitor, a wealthy pagan, who denounced her to the local Roman authority- Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse. He then sentenced her to be sent to a brothel and forced into prostitution. According to legend, when the guards came to take her away, Lucy became immovable. They could not move her even by a team of oxen. Bundles of wood were then amassed around her and set on fire, but the divine intervention proved her impermeable to the flames. Finally, her neck was pierced by a sword and she would only die after receiving the Christia sacrament.

As we can read in medieval accounts, before she died she foretold the punishment of Paschasius and the fast end of the persecution, adding that Diocletian reign would come to an end. This angered Paschasius so much that he ordered the guards to remove her eyes. Another version, though, has “Lucy taking her own eyes out in order to discourage a persistent suitor who admired them. When her body was prepared for burial it was discovered that her eyes had been miraculously restored.” [source: wiki

For this reason, she is often depicted holding her eyes on a golden plate. And because of that ability to see far beyound the human eye can reach, the ability for which she had been severely punished, she became the patron of the blind and sight. She is also the patron saint of authors, laborers, martyrs, peasants, salesmen, stained glass workers, and writers, among others.

By the 6th century her legend was widespread and reached even the Pope, St. Lucia of Syracuse was then honored in the Middle Ages and remained a well-known saint in early modern England and is still worshiped across continents. She is one of eight women along with the Blessed Virgin Mary who are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. 

That’s not all about her.

Since the Latin version of the name; Lucia shares a root (luc-) with another Latin word – ‘lux’ that stands for light, saint Lucy is perceived in a number of traditions as the bearer of light in the darkness of winter, as the feast day is being held today, on 13th December. 

On this day in Scandinavian countries, especially in Norway and Sweden, young girls dressed in white dresses and red sashes, as the symbol of martyrdom, wear a crown or wreath of candles on their heads and march around the streets. Just like Lucy did in 4th century. According to legend, during the Diocletianic Persecution, saint Lucy brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs using a candle-lit wreath to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. 

13th December was said to be the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms (then Winter Solstice Day  was changed to 21 December) and therefore Saint Lucy, the light bearer was invoked to brighten up the dull winter days and bring more light to the world. It was said that big celebrations of  St. Lucy’s Day would help people live the long winter days with enough light. And in Scandinavia winters are long and gloomy. 

Today, 13th December, is a happy day as the light overcomes darkness. 

Today is a celebration day. 



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