Lucy’s Luminous Light

It may be difficult to believe in these dark December days, but a scant week from now, once we pass the winter solstice, the days will begin getting slowly, but perceptibly, longer. The light, and the Light, of the world is not far off. Today we celebrate Santa Lucia, Saint Lucy, the saint of ‘light’, who was put to death during the persecution of Diocletian, in 304, a decade before Constantine made Christianity legal. Her sacrifice was one of countless many of the martyrs which paved the way. The blood of Christians is the seed…

The legend is that, as an orphan of rich parents, she dedicated her virginity to God, and began to distribute her wealth to the poor. Her aunt, worried about her future – as aunts of orphaned nieces are wont to do, I suppose – had her betrothed to a pagan suitor. Said suitor, however, seeing his future dowry dissipate, condemned Lucy to Paschasius, the governor of Syracuse, who in turn condemned her to be defiled in a brothel. But the young maiden miraculously stood fast; literally: not even a team of horses could move her; nor would the wood alight when they tried to burn her alive. So she was summarily dispatched by a sword or dagger, perhaps after having her eyes gouged out. Hence, Lucy, as befits her name, is the patroness of those with eye ailments, and a worthy intercessor in these days of the darkness of sin, which will soon flee away. She is often portrayed in art holding her eyes on a plate, which, if memory serves, inspired various iced baking delicacies that bore a passing resemblance to such.

How much we take light – and concomitant sight – for granted! What a miracle it be, to see tens of thousands of shades of colour, all free and without effort. We should indeed rejoice in the light, as Christ says, as a prelude to the lux perpetua that never ends.

One of the most beautiful of the Caribbean islands, Santa Lucia, is named after the young

Picture taken from the top of Pigeon Island, looking East, towards Reduit Beach. To the left is the Landings Sandals Grande. August 2008 Author Lii (public domain)

martyr. Where the Basilians have a house and school, for Father Leonard Kennedy, God rest his merry Irish soul, who taught at our College years ago, spent some time there in his early priesthood. My own brother took his one trip to the islands there with some friends. Both praised the beauty of the white sands, and cerulean water, an image – if a pale one – of the heaven which awaits us, if we but persevere to the end, in the truth of our Faith.

There is also a Neapolitan song invoking the saint, made famous by the tenor Enrico Caruso at the dawn of the twentieth century:

I will leave you with a few words from Saint Ambrose in today’s Office of Readings, as we enter these latter days of Advent:

The Word of God moves swiftly; he is not won by the lukewarm, nor held fast by the negligent. Let your soul be attentive to his word; follow carefully the path God tells you to take, for he is swift in his passing…

Sancta Lucia, ora pro nobis!