St. Lucy was born in 283 A.D. in Syracuse to noble parents. Her father died when she was young, leaving the wealth of his estate to her mother. According to Aelfric’s Lives of Saints the definitive event of St. Lucy’s life took place while she was on pilgrimage, accompanying her mother to the shrine of St. Agatha of Catania where they were seeking a cure for her mother who had been suffering from a hemorrhage. While praying for healing at St. Agatha’s shrine, Agatha spoke to Lucy in a vision and told her first, that through Lucy’s own faith in Christ her mother would be healed, and secondly, that she would become the patroness of Syracuse because of the witness of her virginity and dedication to Christ.
When St. Lucy’s mother did indeed experience healing, Lucy asked two favors of her. First, that she would not require her to marry and secondly that she might share their riches with the poor. Her mother granted her request and Lucy began to distribute their wealth. When this news reached the man to whom she had been betrothed, he resented the loss of her dowry. In anger, he denounced her as a Christian to the Roman governor who sought unsuccessfully to shame and then burn her to death. She was ultimately killed by the sword. The year was 304 AD during the Roman persecution under Diocletian.
St. Lucy is commemorated in the mass during the Roman Canon, also called the Eucharistic prayer, along with six other female saints. Three of them, Saints Agatha, Agnes, and Cecilia, share with her the title of virgin martyr.
The name Lucy comes from the Latin word for light (lux, lucis), and some versions of her story relate that her eyes were removed by her persecutors. For this reason, she is commonly invoked as the patron saint of the blind and for healing of the eyes. Her feast, situated in the season of Advent and symbolizing the light of the Incarnation entering into the darkness is also mirrored in the approach of the Winter Solstice, as the shortening days begin to gain back light. In Scandinavian countries, she is especially celebrated as the bearer of light during the darkness of winter.
Prayer to St. Lucy
Whose beautiful name signifies ‘LIGHT’
by the light of faith which God bestowed upon you
increase and preserve His light in my soul
so that I may avoid evil,
Be zealous in the performance of good works
and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and
the darkness of evil and sin.
Obtain for me, by your intercession with God
Perfect vision for my bodily eyes
and the grace to use them for God’s greater honour and glory
and the salvation of souls.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr
hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.