Saint Lucy

December 13, 1998
Brother John Raymond

St. Lucy is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass. Who was she? All we really know for certain about this woman is that she lived in Syracuse and lost her life in the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith. There is an inscription referring to St. Lucy in the cemetery of St. John of Syracuse that dates to the fourth or early fifth century.

There is a popular fifth century life of St. Lucy but some question its authenticity. But here it is anyway. In 283 Lucy was born to rich and noble Sicilian parents. Her father died while she was an infant so she became dependent her mother, Eutychia. Still very young Lucy secretly made a vow of virginity and she hoped to devote all her worldly goods to the service of the poor. Her mother insisted that she marry a young man who was pagan.

Lucy learned about a virgin and martyr named Agatha, who had been executed fifty-two years before in the Decian persecution, and the many miracles that had been wrought through her intercession. The tomb containing Agatha's relics where at Catania, less than fifty miles from Syracuse. She persuaded Eutychia to go there on pilgrimage hoping for a cure for her mother's hemorrhage, from which she had been suffering for several years. Her mother was cured at Agatha's tomb. Lucy saw this as an opportunity to tell her mother of her secret vow and desires to distribute her goods to the poor. Greatly touched by her cure, Eutychia allowed Lucy to pursue her desires. But the young man she was betrothed to was very upset at this. He accused Lucy of being a Christian before the Governor of Sicily. At this time in AD 303 Christian were under fierce persecution by the Emperor Diocletian.

The Governor ordered Lucy to be first punished by being forced into a life of prostitution. By a miracle Lucy's captives found her impossible to move. Next the Governor ordered her to be burned to death. Bundles of wood were put around her and then set on fire but again God rescued her. Finally, a sword was thrust through her throat and Lucy died as both virgin and martyr.

Some of us may have seen statues of St. Lucy where she is holding a dish with two eyes on it. This refers to another legend in which Diocletian put out Lucy's eyes as part of his torture. The legend concludes with God restoring Lucy's eyes. Also, Lucy's name which means "light" also played a large part in naming Lucy as a patron saint of the blind and those with eye-trouble.

The media constantly ridicule and teach against virginity. God protected St. Lucy from the violation of this most important virtue. Through her intercession may we draw strength to hold fast to a life of chastity no matter our state in life under today's form of "persecution." And let her patronage be a reminder for us to thank God for the blessing of good eyesight and to pray for those through her intercession who are not so fortunate.