It may be difficult to believe in these dark December days, but a scant week from now, the days, as we approach winter solstice. Fitting as the day the Light comes into the world is not far off, and that 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.
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 betrothed her to a pagan suitor, who, seeing his 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 a 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 darkness. For the light, and the Light, are on their way, and fear and darkness will flee away. Soon.
I was speaking yesterday with our College cook about the island of Santa Lucia, how she took her honeymoon there years ago, how beautiful it is and, as a member of the British commonwealth, is not mired in the tragic poverty of other Caribbean locales. We humans live in hope, and it may help just to dream, even if it never happens, your toes tucked in the white sand of a mile-long beach, cerulean water lapping a few feet away..
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…