Maybe it’s because our names share the same meaning, but I’ve always felt a connection to Saint Lucy. Both Lucy and Claire mean “light” and I am reminded of G.K. Chesterton’s words that, “Coincidences are spiritual puns.” Everything happens for a reason. Discovering that St. Lucy and I share the same name-meaning is what initially attracted me into learning more about her story and life. God uses the most intricate and personal ways to draw us in!
St. Lucy: Virgin and Martyr
St. Lucy, a virgin and martyr, gave her life to Christ at a young age. She was born of nobility in Italy during the time of the Diocletian persecution. St. Lucy had a strong devotion to St. Agatha, and Lucy’s own mother experienced a miracle through her daughter’s prayers and Agatha’s intercession.
Courageously keeping her vow of virginity, St. Lucy refused to marry the Governor of Syracuse and was brutally tortured because of her choice. One tradition holds that her persecutors gouged her eyes out and tried to burn her. When the fire kept extinguishing, the torturers killed her by thrusting a sword in her neck.
The Beauty of Purity
St. Lucy teaches us the supreme nobility of chastity and purity. It’s incredible to think that men and women have sacrificed their lives for the sake of purity. Purity for Christ and His Kingdom is supremely beautiful and worthy of honor. Whenever we feel tempted or drawn to the impure, let us find courage and strength in St. Lucy’s story of sacrifice, bravery, and love.
God and His Saints
The devotion a person has to God’s Saints does not end with the Saints themselves, but rather reaches ultimately to God through the Saints. It pleases God and gives Him glory when we honor those who excelled in love of Him. When we honor God’s Saints, especially on their feast days, we celebrate God’s love for His people and the hope that we too may one day sit on the throne beside Him (Revelation 3:21).
St. Lucy’s Day
As her name suggests, St. Lucy remains a light to many nations. St. Lucy’s Day is celebrated in her Italian homeland and in many other countries throughout the world. A beautiful thing about Catholicism is that it beckons us to celebrate specific heritages and traditions, yet it also reaches beyond all cultures and races. The word “catholic” means “universal” and we see this unity in a special way within God’s Saints.
Celebrating in Sicily
St. Lucy’s Feast Day coincides with the Winter Solstice, a time where light within darkness is both appreciated and yearned for. In Sicily, the location of her martyrdom, a procession takes place on her feast day.
Remembering when St. Lucy saved them from famine in 1646 when a boat full of grain miraculously appeared on her feast day, Sicilians honor her by refraining from consuming pasta and bread on December 13th and instead celebrate by eating cuccìa, a pudding made of wheat berries and sugar.
Celebrating in Sweden
Sweden and other Scandanavian countries focus their celebration on Saint Lucy’s charity and bravery. Tradition holds that Saint Lucy would bring food and refreshment to Christians hiding in the Catacombs during Diocletian’s persecution. She would wear a candle-lit wreath to light her way and free her hands to carry as much aid to her fellow Christians as possible.
Now, every St. Lucy’s Day, a young girl is elected to represent St. Lucy and leads a procession, wearing a white robe with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head.
Honored Throughout the World
From novenas recited in the Philippines to Naples’ tradition of lighting fires by the sea at dawn, St. Lucy is loved and honored by many faithful throughout the world. It’s exciting to think that we can participate in her feast too, even in some small way!
Here are a few simple ideas to celebrate the life of this Saint of light!
- Wear white or red in honor of St. Lucy’s purity, virginity, and martyrdom.
- Make cuccìa (this recipe looks great!) or Saint Lucia Buns (I’ll be using this recipe). Or you could simply make store bought cinnamon rolls like Lisa did last year!
- Attend Mass or pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
- If you have children, make a paper wreath crown for them to wear.
- Pray for those experiencing illness of the eyes or blindness.
The Communion of Saints
However you celebrate St. Lucy’s Day this year, know that you are loved by God and by her. Know that you are never alone because we are part of the Communion of Saints. Carry the light of the Resurrection and the hope of eternal life in your heart this St. Lucy’s Day.
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