Saint Lucy

13 December

With most saints and martyrs of the early Church, what has been handed down to us, could be surrounded with legends, so that it becomes difficult to determine what is fact or legend.
This could be the case with St.Lucy, who lived between 283 and 304. Most of the history surrounding this saint and martyr has been lost. What we do know is that she was born in Syracuse to a wealthy and noble family. It is believed that her father was  Roman while her mother was of Greek origin. Lucy’s father died when she was five years old, leaving her and her mother to fend for themselves.

At the time Sicily was ruled by Diocletian, a pagan Roman Emperor, who persecuted Christians to the point that it was illegal to be one. Lucy had started to believe in the One True God and she had secretly vowed to consecrate her life to Him. At the same time, her mother, being of poor health, wanting a safe and secure future for her daughter, arranged for Lucy to marry a young man who came from a wealthy pagan family. Lucy revealed her secret vow to remain unmarried to her mother, insisting that only Jesus Christ had a place in her heart and that she wanted to give away her dowry to the poor. Lucy’s strong faith convinced her mother to go on a pilgrimage to Catania to beseech the intercession of St. Agatha for a recovery from a health condition that she had been suffering from for a long time. It was at this time that Lucy experienced a vision of the Saint who foretold the cure of her mother. Eventually, her  mother did recover and she regained her health.

In the meantime, when her Roman fiance continued to be refused in marriage by Lucy, he denounced her as a Christian to the pagan governor of Syracuse. She was arrested and ordered to pay homage to an icon of the Emperor as a sign of renunciation of her faith in Jesus Christ. Lucy’s refusal to this act meant her condemnation to death. She was sentenced to be burned alive, but tradition holds that the wood beneath her would not burn. She was then immediately killed by the sword.

She had become a martyr for her faith when she was twenty-one years old. St. Lucy is depicted holding a palm branch as a sign of victory of true faith over evil, and carrying a plate with an emblem of a pair of eyes. Tradition holds that her eyes were gouged out as a means of torture, or that it was self-mutilation to discourage the pagan suitor. Tradition continues to hold that when her body was being prepared for burial, her eyes were restored to their beauty.

Lucy wanted to distribute her dowry to the poor while she was alive instead of bequeathing it all in her will as her mother had suggested, because she said that true charity meant giving away her riches during her life not after her death when she would have no use for them!

It could prove quite challenging to teach our children ‘the joy of giving’ in a society that states that what makes us happy is having more money, more property, more of everything!
Take the opportunity to find time to plan a ‘programme of giving’ for the upcoming Christmas Novena:

  • Encourage sharing their toys, space, time (on tablet, tv, computer games) with siblings or other members of the family or friends.
  • You might organize 3 jars labelled ‘ save, spend, give’ where they can deposit any allowance they would have earned when doing extra chores to help around the house.
  • Find out if there is a ‘charity tree’ organized by the Parish and let them choose, wrap the gift, using the money they would have saved in the jar labelled ‘give’.Consider organizing ‘an advent angel’ for the days of the Novena. Choose a family member for whom the child can do some form of kindness,  with the name of ‘the angel’ being revealed at Christmas. ( Be an angel yourself)

St. Lucy’s feast day is known as a festival of light. Her name means ‘light’ or ‘bearer of light’.  Tradition holds that at sundown, Lucy would carry food to distribute to the Christians in hiding. As it would be dark, she would wear a wreath with candles over her head to shed light on the way, leaving both hands free to carry supplies. Her feast day, on the 13th December, is a strong reminder that the birth of the ‘Light of the World’ is close! While we celebrate her feast day with light and candles, St Lucy shows all of us that, even our children should bring ‘the Light of Christ ‘ to those around us.

  • Discuss with the children how they too can share the Light of Christ wherever we are: in how we behave, how we speak, within the family, with friends and with others. Listen to their suggestions. . . contribute some of your own!
  • Make Family Prayer Time a joyful expression of the expectation of Christmas – the Birth of the Light of the World – Jesus Christ.
  • Combine with the lighting of the Advent Wreath making it a prayerful experience with the singing of “O Come Emmanuel” 

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.