Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of
Antioch, 1st c. A.D
Born in A.D. 283, St. Lucy (Santa Lucia) was a young Sicilian
girl who vowed to
live as a virgin in devotion to Christ. Her mother, however, arranged a
marriage for her to a pagan suitor. To dissuade her mom by proof of a
miracle, Lucy prayed at the tomb of St. Agatha
-- who was martyred a little over 50 years earlier -- that her mother's
hemorrhage would stop. When the miracle happened, her mother agreed to
leave aside the topic of marriage.
Lucy's suitor, however, had other plans, and revealed Lucy as a
Christian. Authorities went to collect her, planning on forcing her
into prostitution -- but they were unable to budge her, even after
tying her to a team of oxen. She was then tortured by having her eyes
torn out. They'd planned on torturing her by fire, too, but the fires
kept going out. She was then killed by being stabbed in the throat with
Because of the above, St. Lucy is the patron Saint of Syracuse,
Perugia, Malta, and, especially, those with eye
problems. She is often depicted carrying her eyes (often on a plate),
being tied to a team of oxen, with St. Agatha, or before her judges.
Her relics lay in Syracuse for hundreds of years, and some were
Constantinople, and then to Venice where they may be venerated at the
Church of San Geremia. Her head was sent to Louis XII of France, and
reposes in the cathedral of Bourges.
Some may prepare for this feast by praying the Novena to St. Lucy starting on December 4
and ending on December 12, the eve of her feast.
As for the feast itself, here is a traditional prayer for the day:
O Saint, named from the light, full of confidence we present
ourselves before thee, to ask of thee a holy light, which may render us
cautious in avoiding the ways of sin and escaping the darkness of
error. We beg also, through thy intercession, for the preservation of
the light of our eyes, together with abundant grace to use it always in
accordance with the will of God and without injury to our souls. Grant,
blessed Lucy, that, after venerating and thanking thee for thy powerful
patronage on earth, we may come at last to rejoice with thee in the
paradise of the eternal light of the divine Lamb, thy sweet spouse
As the prayer indicates, our Saint's name, "Lucia," means "Light," and
light plays a role in the
of the day. In Sicily, torchlit processions
and bonfires mark this feast. Sixty men
wearing green berets bear her large, silver reliquary statue, and her
icon is carried to Porta Marina, where sailors greet her, sounding the
sirens on their ships. A
wheat porridge known as cuccia is eaten because, during a famine, the
people of Syracuse invoked St. Lucy, who interceded by sending a ship
laden with grain (much as St. Joseph
also did for the people of Sicily). Cuccia can be made so that it's
savory or sweet. Here is a sweet version:
2 cups dried wheatberries
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups ricotta cheese
4 TBSP sugar or 2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
Optional: chopped walnuts or pistachios; shaved dark chocolate (or
chocolate chips); candied fruit (candied orange peel is popular);
chopped dried figs
Two days before, soak the wheatberries in a big pot and let sit for 24
hours. Then rinse, cover again with water, and soak for another 24
On St. Lucy's day, rinse the wheat once again, put it back into the
pot, and cover with water by 3 inches. Add the salt, then bring to a
boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until the
wheat is tender (about an hour or so). Run cold water over the wheat
until it's chilled, then drain really well, letting it sit in a
strainer over a bowl for 5 minutes or so.
Whisk together the ricotta, sugar (or honey), and vanilla until it's
creamy and smooth. Fold it into the wheat. Garnish with cinnamon. Top
with whatever configuration of optional ingredients you like.
Some of the
loveliest St. Lucy's Day customs are Swedish:
in Sweden, the oldest daughter of a family will wake up before dawn on
St. Lucy's Day and dress in a white gown for purity, often with a red
sash as a sign of martyrdom. On her head she will wear a wreath of
greenery and lit candles, and she is often accompanied by "starboys,"
her small brothers who are dressed in white gowns and cone-shaped hats
that are decorated with gold stars, and carrying star-tipped wands.
"St. Lucy" will go around her house and wake up her family to serve
them special St. Lucy Day foods, such as saffron buns and Lussekatter
(St. Lucy's Cats), shaped into X's, figure-8s, S-shapes, or crowns.
(makes 10-12 buns)
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
8 ounces (1 cup) milk
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 beaten egg white for egg wash
Using a mortar and pestle, pound saffron threads to break down strands.
In a small saucepan, heat milk to lukewarm.
Mix yeast with 1/4 cup milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside.
On low heat, melt butter in saucepan with milk. Add crushed saffron.
In large bowl, mix together flour salt and remaining sugar.
Stir yeast into cooled milk mixture. Mix into dry ingredients, beating
to mix well. Add beaten eggs. Knead in bowl for 5 - 7 minutes. Turn
onto floured board and knead another 7 - 8 minutes.
Put dough in lightly greased bowl, turn to coat all sides, cover and
put in warm, draft-free place to rise for about 1 hour.
When dough has risen, knead lightly to push out air and divide into
small pieces (about 10 - 12). Using the hands, roll each small piece
into a strip about 8 - 10 inches long. Shape each strip into an 'S' or
a figure 8. Place on lightly buttered cookie sheets.
Cover with clean cloth and let rise again until double in bulk, about 1
to 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
When dough has risen, brush lightly with egg white. Bake in preheated
375° F oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool on wire
The Saint is
honored in Sweden by public processions of "Lucias," and cities will
elect an official "Lucia" for the year, with Sweden as a country also
electing a national representative of the Saint. Lucia is honored, as
well, by the Neapolitan song "Santa Lucia" -- but with the lyrics
altered to focus on the Saint rather than the Italian harbor named for
Lucia, as a symbol of illumination and light, makes an
appearance in all three parts of Dante's "Divine Comedy." In
Canto two of Inferno, she is
sent by Our Lady to Beatrice in order to get Beatrice to send Virgil to
help Dante. In Purgatorio,
she carries Dante to Purgatory. And in Paradiso, she sits near St. Peter,
and St. Anne, who gazes at her
daughter, the Blessed Virgin.
Finally, in yet another astronomical coincidence (or not?) given the
Lucia's name, the evening of the 13th/morning of the 14th is the time
when the Geminids make their appearance. The Geminids, along with the
Perseids in August (see the Feast of St.
Lawrence) and the Leonids in November, are the meteor showers that
tend to be
the largest and spectacular. The Geminids can also be rather colorful!
Look toward the East after midnight to try to see them! Learn more
about the Zodiac and meteor showers here.
From The Liturgical Year
By Dom Geuranger
There comes to us, today, the fourth of our wise virgins, the valiant
Martyr, Lucy. Her glorious name shines on the sacred diptych of the
Canon of the Mass, together with those of Agatha, Agnes, and Cecily
[Cecilia]; and as often as we hear it pronounced during these days of
Advent, it reminds us (for Lucy signifies light) that He who consoles
the Church, by enlightening her children, is soon to be with us. Lucy
is one of the three glories of the Church of Sicily; as Catania is
immortalized by Agatha, and Palermo by Rosalia, so is Syracuse by Lucy.
Therefore, let us devoutly keep her Feast: she will aid us by her
prayers during this holy season, and will repay our love by obtaining
for us a warmer love of that Jesus, Whose grace enabled her to conquer
the world. Once more let us consider, why our Lord has not only given
us Apostles, Martyrs, and bishops as guides to us on our road to
Bethlehem, but has willed also that we should be accompanied thither by
such virgins as Lucy. The children of the Church are forcibly reminded
by this, that, in approaching the crib of their sovereign Lord and God,
they must bring with them, besides their faith, that purity of mind and
body without which no one can come near to God. Let us now read the
glorious acts of the virgin Lucy.
Lucy, a virgin of Syracuse, illustrious by birth and by the
Christian faith, which she had professed from her infancy, went to
Catania, with her mother Eutychia, who was suffering from a flux of
blood, there to venerate the body of the blessed Agatha. Having prayed
fervently at the tomb, she obtained her mother's cure, by the
intercession of St. Agatha. Lucy then asked her mother that she would
permit her to bestow upon the poor of Christ the fortune which she
intended to leave her. No sooner, therefore, had she returned to
Syracuse, than she sold all that was given to her and distributed the
money amongst the poor.
When he, to whom her parents had against her will promised
her in marriage, came to know what Lucy had done, he went before the
prefect Paschasius and accused her of being a Christian. Paschasius
entreated and threatened, but could not induce her to worship the
idols; nay, the more he strove to shake her faith, the more inflamed
were the praises which she uttered in professing its excellence. He
said, therefore, to her: We shall have no more of thy words, when thou
feelest the blows of my executioners. To this the virgin replied: Words
can never be wanting to God's servants, for Christ our Lord has said to
When you shall be brought before kings and governors, take no
thought how or what to speak; for it shall be given to you in that hour
what to speak; for it is not you that speak, but the holy Spirit
that speaketh in you. Paschasius then asked her:
Is the holy Spirit in thee? She answered: They who live
chastely and piously, are the temple of the holy Spirit. He said: I
will order thee to be taken to a brothel, that this holy Spirit may
leave thee. The virgin said to him: The violence wherewith thou
threatenest me would obtain for me a double crown of chastity.
Whereupon Paschasius being exceedingly angry, ordered Lucy to be
dragged to a place where her treasure might be violated; but, by the
power of God, so firmly was she fixed to the place where she stood,
that it was impossible to move her. Wherefore the prefect ordered her
to be covered over with pitch, resin, and boiling oil, and a fire to be
kindled round her. But seeing that the flame was not permitted to hurt
her, they tormented her in many cruel ways, and at length ran a sword
through her neck. Thus wounded, Lucy foretold the peace of the Church,
which would come after the death of Diocletian and Maximian, and then
died. It was the Ides of December (Dec. 13). Her body was buried at
Syracuse, but was translated thence first to Constantinople, and
afterwards to Venice.
The Life of St. Lucy
From "The Golden
by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa
Lucy is said of light, and light is beauty in beholding, after that S.
Ambrose saith: The nature of light is such, she is gracious in
beholding, she spreadeth over all without Iying down, she passeth in
going right without crooking by right long line; and it is without
dilation of tarrying, and therefore it is showed the blessed Lucy hath
beauty of virginity without any corruption; essence of charity without
disordinate love; rightful going and devotion to God, without squaring
out of the way; right long line by continual work without negligence of
slothful tarrying. In Lucy is said, the way of light.
S. Lucy, the holy virgin, was born in Sicily, and extract and
engendered of a noble lineage, in the city of Syracuse. When she heard
of the good fame and renown of S. Agatha or Agaas, which was published
and spread all about, anon she went to her sepulchre with her mother
which was named Euthicia, which had a malady, named the bloody flux, by
the space of four years, the which no master in physic ne surgery could
heal. And when they were at a mass, one read a gospel which made
mention of a woman which was healed of the bloody flux by touching of
the hem of the coat of Jesu Christ. When S. Lucy heard this, anon she
said to her mother: Mother, if ye believe that this which is read be
true, and also that S. Agatha hath now presently with her Jesu Christ,
and also that for his name she suffered martyrdom, and if ye, with this
belief, touch her sepulchre, without doubt ye shall be anon guerished
Upon this they, after the mass, when the people were departed, they
twain fell down on their knees on the sepulchre of S. Agatha in
prayers, and weeping began to pray for her help and aid.
S. Lucy in making her prayers for her mother fell asleep, and she saw
in her sleep S. Agatha among the angels, nobly adorned and arrayed with
precious stones, which said thus to her: Lucy, my sweet sister, devout
virgin to God, wherefore prayest thou to me for thy mother, for such
thing as thou mayest thyself right soon give to her? For I tell the
truth, that for thy faith, and thy good, thy mother is safe and whole.
With these words S. Lucy awoke all afraid, and said to her mother:
Mother, ye be guerished and all whole; I pray you for her sake by whose
prayers ye be healed, that ye never make mention to me for to take an
husband ne spouse, but all that good that ye would give me with a man,
I pray you that ye will give it to me for to do alms withal that I may
come to my saviour Jesu Christ.
Her mother answered to her: Fair daughter, thy patrimony, which I have
received this nine years, sith thy father died, I have nothing
aminished, but I have multiplied and increased it; but abide till I am
departed out of this world, and then forthon do as it shall please
S. Lucy said: Sweet mother, hear my counsel: he is not beloved of God,
that for his love giveth that which he may not use himself, but if thou
wilt find God debonair to thee, give for him that which thou mayest
dispend, for after thy death thou mayest in no wise use thy goods. That
which thou givest when thou shalt die, thou givest it because thou
mayest not bear it with thee. Give then for God's sake whiles thou
livest: and as to such good as thou oughtest to give to me with an
husband or spouse, begin to give all that to your people for the love
of Jesu Christ.
Hereof spake alway Lucy to her mother, and every day they gave alms of
their goods. And when they had almost sold their patrimony and their
jewels, tidings came to the knowledge of her spouse that should have
wedded her, and that she was promised to, the which he demanded hereof
the truth of the nurse of S. Lucy, and wherefore they sold thus their
patrimony. She answered cautelously, and said that they did it because
that S. Lucy, which should have been his wife, had found one which had
a more fairer and nobler heritage than his was, the which they would
buy tofore ere they should assemble by marriage. The fool believed it,
for he understood carnally this that the nurse had said to him
spiritually, and helped them to sell their heritage.
But when he understood that she gave all for God's love, and that he
felt himself deceived, anon he complained on Lucy, and made her to come
tofore a judge named Paschasius, which was a miscreant and heathen man.
And it was because she was christian, and that she did against the law
of the Emperor, Paschasius blamed her, and admonested her to worship
and do sacrifice to the idols.
She said: Sacrifice which pleaseth God is to visit the widows and
orphans, and to help them in their need: I have not ceased these three
years past to make to God such sacrifice, and forasmuch as I have no
more of which I may make yet such sacrifice, I offer to him myself, let
him do with his offering as it pleaseth him.
Paschasius said: Thou mightest say these words unto christian people,
semblable to thee, but to me which keep the commandments of the
emperors, thou sayest them in vain.
S. Lucy said: If thou wilt keep the law of thy lords, I shall keep the
law of God; thou doubtest to anger them, and I shall keep me that I
anger not my God; thou wilt please them, and I covet only to please our
Lord Jesu Christ.
Paschasius said: Thou hast dispended thy patrimony with the ribalds,
and therefore thou speakest as a ribald.
She said. I have set my patrimony in a sure place; unto the corruption
of my heart ne body, I never agreed ne suffered it.
Paschasius said: Who be they that corrupt the heart and the body?
She said: Ye be that corrupt the hearts, of whom the apostle said: The
evil words corrupt the good manners. Ye counsel the souls to forsake
their creator and to ensue the devil in making sacrifice to the idols;
the corrupters of the body be they that love the short delectations
corporal, and despite delights spiritual that endure for ever.
Paschasius said: These words that thou sayest shall finish when thou
shalt come to thy pains.
She said: The words of God may not end ne finish.
Paschasius said: How then! art thou God?
She said: I am the handmaid of God, and for so much as I say, they be
the words of God, for he saith: Ye be not they that speak tofore the
princes and judges, but the Holy Ghost speaketh in you.
Paschasius said: And therefore the Holy Ghost is in thee?
She said: The apostle saith that they be the temple of God that live
chastely, and the Holy Ghost dwelleth in them.
Paschasius said: I shall do bring thee to the bordel, where thou shalt
lose thy chastity, and then the Holy Ghost shall depart from thee.
She said: The body may take no corruption but if the heart and will
give thereto assenting: for if thou madest me to do sacrifice by my
hands, by force, to the idols, against my will, God shall take it only
but as a derision, for he judgeth only of the will and consenting. And
therefore, if thou make my body to be defouled without mine assent, and
against my will, my chastity shall increase double to the merit of the
crown of glory. What thing that thou dost to the body, which is in thy
power, that beareth no prejudice to the handmaid of Jesu Christ.
Then commanded Paschasius that the ribalds of the town should come, to
whom he delivered S. Lucy, saying: Call other to you for to defoul her,
and labour her so much till she be dead. Anon the ribalds would have
drawn her from thence where she was, and have brought her to the
bordel, but the Holy Ghost made her so pesant and heavy that in no wise
might they move her from the place. Wherefore many of the servants of
the judge put hand to, for to draw with the other, and she abode still.
Then they bound cords to her hands and feet, and all drew, but she
abode alway still as a mountain, without moving. Whereof Paschasius was
all anguishous and angry, and did do call his enchanters, which might
never move her for all enchantery. Then Paschasius did do yoke for her
oxen many, for to draw her, and yet they might not move her from the
place. Then Paschasius demanded her for what reason might it be that a
frail maid might not be drawn ne moved by a thousand men.
She said: It is the work of God, and if thou settest thereto yet ten
thousand they should not move me.
Of these words the judge was sore tormented
And S. Lucy said to him: Wherefore tormentest thou thyself thus? If
thou hast proved and assayed that I am the temple of God, believe it.
If thou hast not assayed, learn to assay.
And hereof was the judge more tormented, for he saw that she made but
her mockery with him. Wherefore he did do make about S. Lucy a right
great fire, and made to be cast on her pitch, resin, and boiling oil,
and she abode all still tofore the fire, and said: I have prayed to
Jesu Christ that this fire have no domination in me to the end that the
christian men that believe in God make of thee their derision. And I
have prayed for respite of my martyrdom for to take away from the
christian men the fear and dread to die for the faith of Jesu Christ,
and to take away from the miscreants the avaunting of my martyrdom.
The friends of the judge saw that he was confused by the words of S.
Lucy, and of the drawing much greatly tormented, and therefore they
roof a sword through her throat, and yet for all that she died not
anon, but spake to the people, saying: I announce and show to you that
holy church shall have peace, for Diocletian the emperor, which was
enemy to holy church is this day put out of his seignory, and Maximian,
his fellow, is this day dead. And in likewise as S. Agatha is patroness
and keeper of Catania, in the same wise shall I be committed to be
patroness of Syracuse, this city.
And as she spake thus to the people, the sergeants and ministers of
Rome came for to take Paschasius and bring him to Rome, because he was
accused tofore the senators of Rome of that he had robbed the province;
wherefore he received his sentence of the senate, and had his head
smitten off. S. Lucy never removed from the place where she was hurt
with the sword, ne died not till the priest came and brought the
blessed body of our Lord Jesu Christ. And as soon as she had received
the blessed sacrament she rendered and gave up her soul to God,
thanking and praising him of all his goodness. In that same place is a
church edified in the name of her, whereas many benefits have been
given to the honour of our Lord Jesu Christ, which is blessed world
without end. Amen.