13th December – feast day of Santa Lucia – Saint Lucy.

Saint Lucy depicted holding a dagger and a dish containing a pair of eyes Saint Lucy is often depicted with a pair of eyes, as in this painting by Domenico di Pace Beccafumi.

Saint Lucy’s Day or the Feast of St. Lucy is marked by Catholics and Orthodox Christians and also celebrated by members of the Lutheran Church.

Celebrations take place in the USA and Europe, especially Scandinavia.

Lucy, whose name means ‘light’, is the patron saint of the blind.

Lucy was born in 283 AD in Syracuse, Sicily, and was killed there in 303 AD during Roman persecution under the Emperor Diocletian.

Lucy is said to have been the daughter of a rich nobleman who died when she was young. Her mother was not a Christian and wanted to arrange a marriage between Lucy and a rich Pagan man. Lucy had committed her life to Christ and pledged to remain a virgin. She wished to spend the money intended for her dowry on alms for the poor.

A young woman lies dead on the ground with mourning clergymen around her. In the foreground, two men are stripped to the waist digging a grave

Burial of Saint Lucy, Caravaggio, 1608

Lucy travelled with her mother to the tomb of Saint Agatha. As they prayed at the tomb, Lucy saw a vision of Saint Agatha and her mother’s longstanding illness was miraculously cured as Lucy had hoped it would be. Lucy’s mother converted to Christianity.

Lucy was then able to spend her money helping the poor, but her intended bridegroom was not pleased and denounced her to the Roman governor as a Christian. (The governor’s name is sometimes given as Paschasius.)

The governor first ordered Lucy to make sacrifices to his idols, but she refused and said she would only sacrifice to Christ through her good works.

Lucy, a young woman dressed in white, receiving communion from a priest

Lucy receives communion before her martyrdom in a painting by Sebastiano Ricci, 1730 ©

Hearing this, the governor sentenced Lucy to forced prostitution as an intensely degrading punishment, but she claimed that her soul would remain pure no matter what was done to her against her will. When the guards came to carry her out, the Holy Spirit made her body heavy and immobile, impossible to lift.

Lucy was put to death after suffering various tortures. She was burned alive and came out miraculously unharmed. According to the somewhat fanciful thirteenth-century retelling found in The Golden Legend, despite being stabbed through the neck with a dagger she continued to prophesy the downfall of the governor, the emperor and his co-regent, all of which came to pass after her death.

In other versions, Lucy’s eyes were torn out and later healed by God, a legend that supports her association with the blind and explains why she is often pictured holding two eyes on a dish.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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1 Response to 13th December – feast day of Santa Lucia – Saint Lucy.

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Is this the same Lucy that the Beatles wrote a song about?

    If she was denounced as a Christian, I’m puzzled as to how she could receive communion before her death as depicted…and the priest would be for the chop too.


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