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December 13

St Lucy of Syracuse - December 13

Saint Lucy of Syracuse

Virgin and Martyr

(Around 282 – Around 304)

What we leave to the poor after our death is not so agreeable to God, nor so useful to us as what we give them during our life-time; just as a torch which is carried after us is not of the same service as one which is carried before.”

Saint Lucy of Syracuse

Saint’s Life Story

Her Family

Lucy  was born of rich and noble parents around 283 in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy, during the Diocletian persecution. Her Roman father died when she was five years old. So, Lucy and her mother, Eutychia, were left without a protective guardian. Raised in a pious family, Lucy vowed her life to Christ.  

Her Early Life

Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God. She hoped to distribute her dowry to the poor. However, Eutychia, not knowing of Lucy’s promise, and suffering from a bleeding disorder, feared for Lucy’s future. She arranged Lucy’s marriage to a young man of a wealthy pagan family. For three years, Lucy managed to keep the marriage on hold. To change her mother‘s mind about her new faith, Lucy prayed at the tomb of Saint Agatha.  Then, her mother‘s long haemorrhagic illness was cured. Her mother agreed with Lucy’s desire to live for God. Lucy became known as a patron of those with maladies like her mother‘s. One legend states that Saint Agatha appeared to Lucy in a dream, telling her that one day she, Lucy, would be the glory of Syracuse. 

Rejected Bridegroom 

Her rejected pagan bridegroom, Paschasius, denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor of Sicily. The governor sentenced her to forced prostitution. However, when guards went to fetch her, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen.

Death Sentence

The governor ordered her killed instead. A gruesome medieval addition holds that Lucy gouged out her own eyes prior to her execution to deter a suitor who delighted in their beauty. Another tradition states that Lucy could not be dragged to her execution site even by a team of oxen, so the guards piled wood all around her to devour her flesh with flames—but the kindling refused to ignite! Frustrated, one of the soldiers then thrust his sharp sword deep into her throat, bringing her brief life to a grisly end.

Lucy’s Feast Day Celebrations

For over a millennium in the old Julian calendar, Lucy’s Feast Day of December 13 fell very close to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. But the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582 corrected a ten day drift between the calendar and scientific reality, leaving December 13 now eight days before the Solstice. Lucy’s symbolic resonance as a source of light in a dark season persists, despite the calendar correction distancing her feast day from winter’s blackest hour. Her feast day marks the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Sweden, and some parts of Finland, and Norway. 

In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Saint Lucy is venerated on her feast day, December 13, in a ceremony where a young girl is chosen to portray the noble virgin and martyr. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of other girls, each holding a candle, and singing a song in honor of Saint Lucy. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take Saint Lucy’s life when she was sentenced to be burned to death by the Roman judge, during the persecution of Diocletian.

Born:                   Around 283 in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy

Died:                   Around 304 in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         December 13

Patron Saint:    Against Blindness; Against Hemorrhages; Eye Illnesses; Glass Makers; Throat Infections

Source:

Reflection

Saint Lucy of Syracuse is now celebrated for her light in the darkest days of winter. She was truly a shining light inspiring all by her heroic example. Lucy consecrated her virginity to God. Because she lived up to her Christain beliefs and gave away to the poor her jewels, her jealous lover denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse, Sicily. Lucy was first sentenced to prostitution, but couldn’t be moved by horses. When she couldn’t be set on fire under bundles of wood, she was killed by a sword thrust to her throat. The moral courage of the young Sicilian martyr shines forth as a guiding light, just as bright for today’s youth as it was in 304.

How strong is your faith to God?  Would you “give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death”? as Saint Lucy stated. 

Prayers

Saint Lucy of Syracuse,

You did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world 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 light up our daily lives and those lives around us.

Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation — every corner of our life, every minute of our day.

Saint Lucy of Syracuse, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Prayer to St. Lucy, for the eyes of the body and those of the soul

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Lucy (Saint Lucia) Virgin, Martyr

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 13 December – St Lucy (c 283-304)

Angelus – Saint of the day: Lucy

A Reason2BCatholic – Saints Alive! | St Lucy

Rev. Alban Butler The Lives of the Saints. Complete Edition – St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Catholic Culture  – Life of St. Lucy by Ælfric

Catholic Exchange – Saint Lucy: A Light to the World & the Church by Louise Merrie

Catholic Ireland – Dec 13 – St Lucy (283-304) virgin and martyr

Catholic News Agency – Pope Francis: St. Lucy followed her conscience ‘without compromise’

Catholic Online – St. Lucy

Franciscan Media – Saint Lucy

Independent Catholic News – Poems for St Lucy’s Day

Loyola Press – Saint Lucy Feast Day December 13

My Catholic Life – Saint Lucy of Syracuse, Virgin and Martyr

New Advent – Bridge, J. (1910). St. Lucy. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saints, Feast, Family – St Lucy’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Lucy (c.283-c.304)

Saint of the Day – December 13 St. Lucy

uCatholic – Saint Lucy

Video Link

Cradio Saint of the Day: Saint Lucy of Syracuse – YouTube Video (CatholicSaints.Info)