The feast of Saint Lucy falls right in the middle of Advent each year.
In some cultures, the feast day of St. Lucy, or St. Lucia’s Day as it’s sometimes called, is a big part of the Advent tradition.
Because her feast day falls right around the shortest (and darkest) day in the calendar year, her feast day is often celebrated with many lights or candles.
That’s not accidental. In fact, this light has several meanings.
First, there’s the legend that she used a candle-filled wreath to light her path as she brought food to Christians hiding from persecution in the Catacombs.
In addition to this, her name also means “light.” So her feast day is a great opportunity to celebrate what is coming: the arrival of the light of Christ on Christmas Day
But apart from these Advent traditions that have to do with her feast day, St. Lucy is a great saint for us to look to for inspiration and intercession, particularly because of her attitude of faith when she was confronted with opposition to her vocation and her faith itself.
A life of devotion to God
There aren’t many details known for certain about St. Lucy’s early life, but she was mostly likely born around the year 283. Her parents were probably wealthy and members of the nobility.
When Lucy was five years old, her father died. When Lucy was older, her mother, who was named Eutychia, suffered from a bleeding disorder. She feared that Lucy would soon have no parents to care for her.
So Lucy’s mother took care to arrange a marriage for Lucy at the first opportunity. But Lucy did not want to marry at all.
Instead, Lucy had made a vow of virginity, consecrating herself to God. She had even hoped to give the money set aside for her dowry to the poor.
When Lucy learned that her mother was planning to give her in marriage to a wealthy pagan man, Lucy put her faith in God and tried to think of a way to convince her mother to allow her to take Christ as a husband instead.
Lucy began praying at the tomb of Saint Agatha for this intention. Eventually, she received a vision of St. Agatha in a dream. The saint told her that Lucy’s mother’s illness would be cured through faith.
Eutychia was indeed cured. Lucy made use of her mother’s cure to convince her mother that they should give the dowry money to the poor, and that she should should let Lucy consecrate her virginity to God.
Lucy and her mother Eutychia were both very grateful for the healing and the working of God in their lives.
But the pagan man Lucy had been promised to was very angry.
St. Lucy’s brutal martyrdom
Lucy’s rejected bridegroom was particularly irate to learn that the dowry he’d been promised had been distributed to the poor.
As revenge, he betrayed her to the governor Paschasius, whom he knew would punish her for her belief in Christ.
Paschasius ordered Lucy to burn a sacrifice to an image of the emperor. Lucy refused to violate her faith by doing this, so Paschasius sentenced her to be sent to a brothel.
Some traditions state that Lucy told Paschasius that he would be punished for his actions. This made him very angry, and he ordered his guards to gouge out her eyes.
This is why Lucy is sometimes shown holding her eyes on a plate. It also explains why she is known as the patron saint of eye illnesses and the blind.
Tradition also states that the guards who came to bring Lucy to the brothel were unable to move her. They even hooked up a team of oxen to try and make her move, but to no avail.
Then, the guards put wood around her and attempted to burn her, but the wood would not burn.
Finally, Lucy was killed by a sword, which was stabbed through her throat.
Tradition says that when Lucy’s body was prepared for burial in her family’s mausoleum, her eyes were found to be miraculously restored in her body.
A prayer to St. Lucy
Though we might not necessarily suffer from physical afflictions of the eyes, Lucy is a great saint for us to turn to for guidance and spiritual “sight” in our lives, since she herself was a shining example of faith, courage, and commitment to the path God called her to follow.
“O St. Lucy, you preferred to let your eyes be torn out instead of denying the faith and defiling your soul; and God, through an extraordinary miracle, replaced them with another pair of sound and perfect eyes to reward your virtue and faith, appointing you as the protector against eye diseases.
“I come to you for you to protect my eyesight and to heal the illness in my eyes.
“O St. Lucy, preserve the light of my eyes so that I may see the beauties of creation, the glow of the sun, the color of the flowers and the smile of children.
“Preserve also the eyes of my soul, the faith, through which I can know my God, understand His teachings, recognize His love for me and never miss the road that leads me to where you, St. Lucy, can be found in the company of the angels and saints.
“St. Lucy, protect my eyes and preserve my faith. Amen.”