Feast Day: December 13th
Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit.
- Saint Lucy
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A virgin and martyr of Syracuse in Sicily, whose feast is celebrated by Latins and Greeks alike on 13 Dec. According to the traditional story, she was born of rich and noble parents about the year 283. Her father was of Roman origin, but his early death left her dependent upon her mother, whose name, Eutychia, seems to indicate that she came of Greek stock. Like so many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, and she hoped to devote all her worldly goods to the service of the poor. Her mother was not so single-minded, but an occasion offered itself when Lucy could carry out her generous resolutions. The fame of the virgin-martyr Agatha, who had been executed fifty-two years before in the Decian persecution, was attracting numerous visitors to her relics at Catania, not fifty miles from Syracuse, and many miracles had been wrought through her intercession. Eutychia was therefore persuaded to make a pilgrimage to Catania, in the hope of being cured or a hemorrhage, from which she had been suffering for several years. There she was in fact cured, and Lucy, availing herself of the opportunity, persuaded her mother to allow her to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor. The largess stirred the greed of the unworthy youth to whom Lucy had been unwillingly betrothed, and he denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Sicily. It was in the year 303, during the fierce persecution of Diocletian. She was first of all condemned to suffer the shame of prostitution; but in the strength of God she stood immovable, so that they could not drag her away to the place of shame. Bundles of wood were then heaped about her and set on fire, and again God saved her. Finally, she met her death by the sword. But before she died she foretold the punishment of Paschasius and the speedy termination of the persecution, adding that Diocletian would reign no more, and Maximian would meet his end. So, strengthened with the Bread of Life, she won her crown of virginity and martyrdom.
This beautiful story cannot unfortunately be accepted without criticism. The details may be only a repetition of similar accounts of a virgin martyr's life and death. Moreover, the prophecy was not realized, if it required that Maximian should die immediately after the termination of his reign. Paschasius, also, is a strange name for a pagan to bear. However, since there is no other evidence by which the story may be tested, it can only be suggested that the facts peculiar to the saint's story deserve special notice. Among these, the place and time of her death can hardly be questioned; for the rest, the most notable are her connexion with St. Agatha and the miraculous cure of Eutychia, and it is to be hoped that these have not been introduced by the pious compiler of the saint's story or a popular instinct to link together two national saints. The story, such as we have given it, is to be traced back to the Acta, and these probably belong to the fifth century. Though they cannot be regarded as accurate, there can be no doubt of the great veneration that was shown to St. Lucy by the early church. She is one of those few female saints whose names occur in the canon of St. Gregory, and there are special prayers and antiphons for her in his "Sacramentary" and "Antiphonary". She is also commemorated in the ancient Roman Martyrology. St. Aldheim (d. 709) is the first writer who uses her Acts to give a full account of her life and death. This he does in prose in the "Tractatus de Laudibus Virginitatis" (Tract. xliii, P. L., LXXXIX, 142) and again, in verse, in the poem "De Laudibus Virginum" (P. L., LXXXIX, 266). Following him, the Venerable Bede inserts the story in his Martyrology.
With regard to her relics, Sigebert (1030-1112), a monk of Gembloux, in his "sermo de Sancta Lucia", says that he body lay undisturbed in Sicily for 400 years, before Faroald, Duke of Spoleto, captured the island and transferred the saint's body to Corfinium in Italy. Thence it was removed by the Emperor Otho I, 972, to Metz and deposited in the church of St. Vincent. And it was from this shrine that an arm of the saint was taken to the monastery of Luitburg in the Diocese of Spires--an incident celebrated by Sigebert himself in verse. The subsequent history of the relics is not clear. On their capture of Constantinople in 1204, the French found some of the relics in that city, and the Doge of Venice secured them for the monastery of St. George at Venice. In the year 1513 the Venetians presented to Louis XII of France the head of the saint, which he deposited in the cathedral church of Bourges. Another account, however, states that the head was brought to Bourges from Rome whither it had been transferred during the time when the relics rested in Corfinium.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910, Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876St. Lucy, one of the most renowned Christian heroines, first saw the light of the world at Syracuse, in Sicily. Her parents were of high rank and very rich; but Lucy cared not for temporal goods, and had already when quite young, vowed herself to the Lord. As her father had died early, her mother desired that she should marry a youth, her equal in rank and fortune, but still a heathen. Lucy was horrified at this proposal; but not to displease her mother by a refusal, she endeavored to delay giving a decisive answer, praying meanwhile to God to aid her. Her prayer was answered in an unexpected manner. Her mother became sick and needed her daughter's assistance. Already four years had passed, and there was yet no hope of a recovery, when the mother, persuaded by Lucy, allowed herself to be carried to the tomb of St. Agatha, at Catania, which was celebrated for many miracles. On arriving there, Lucy, after long prayers, was overcome by sleep, in which St. Agatha, accompanied by many Angels, appeared to her and said: "What do you request of me, dear sister? Behold your mother is cured! Your faith has worked this miracle. Know then, that as God, for my sake, made Catania glorious, so will He, for your sake, make Syracuse famous; for, you have prepared for Him an agreeable dwelling by vowing your virginity to Him."
When Lucy awoke she found her mother, who had been sick so long, entirely restored. Joyfully embracing her, she warmly congratulated her, and after both had given due thanks to the Almighty, they also showed their gratitude to the virgin, St. Agatha. After this, Lucy said to her mother: "I beg of you, dearest mother, speak not to me again of a mortal bridegroom, for I have long since united myself to One who is immortal. I pray you also to give me the portion you would have given me if I had married an earthly bridegroom." The mother, thinking that her daughter would give all to the poor, replied: "If you will wait till after my death, you will be at liberty to do as you like with your inheritance." To this Lucy made answer: "What we leave to the poor after our death is not so agreeable to God, nor so useful to us as what we give them during our life-time; just as a torch which is carried after us is not of the same service as one which is carried before." Moved by these words, the mother promised to accede to all her wishes. Hence, having returned home, she gave Lucy the portion which was due to her, and the holy virgin gave it immediately to the poor.
When the youth who had asked her hand in marriage heard of this, his love was changed into hatred, and he accused her to the Governor, Paschasius, as well for refusing to become his wife, as also for being a Christian and despising the gods. Paschasius called Lucy into his presence, and admonished her to sacrifice to the gods, as well as to keep her promise to the young nobleman. "Neither will be done," replied the virgin; "I sacrifice only to the true God; to Him have I given my faith; not to any man." "I obey the command of the Emperor," replied Paschasius; "you must sacrifice to the gods, and keep your word." "You obey the command of the Emperor," said Lucy, "and I obey the command of God. You fear a mortal man, I fear an immortal God, and Him I will obey." "Your brave words will cease," said Paschasius, "when your fortitude is tried by tortures." "No," said Lucy, "they will not. The servants of the Lord are never in want of words; for Christ has said to them: 'When you speak to kings and magistrates, do not long consider what and how you say it, for it will be given you what to speak. It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of God speaking through you.'" "Do you pretend to say by this, that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" asked Paschasius. The holy virgin replied: "Those whose life is pure and chaste are a temple of the Holy Ghost." "I shall take care that you be not much longer such a temple," said the Governor; "I will send you into a brothel where you will soon be deprived of your purity." "If my will is not in it," said the chaste virgin, "my purity will be undefiled, even as you can force me to cast incense on the altar before the gods. God judges not by the violence which is done to the body, but by the will. If you cause such violence to be done to me, my chastity will earn a double crown."
Paschasius, enraged at these words, commanded her to be taken to a house of iniquity, and there exposed to the wickedness of men. Lucy went forth courageously, full of trust in God, whose aid she implored, into the street; where, suddenly, by the power of the Almighty, she became immovable, so that they could not remove her from the spot notwithstanding all their efforts. They fastened ropes around her, and even yoked several pairs of oxen to them, but all was useless; she stood like a rock and could not be moved. Paschasius ascribed this miracle to witchcraft, and commanded pitch and boiling oil to be poured over her, and set on fire; but she remained unharmed in the midst of the flames. The tyrant could no longer endure to see the fearlessness of the Christian heroine, much less listen to the admonitions which she gave to those around her to forsake idolatry; hence he commanded that a sword should be thrust into her throat to end her life. Sinking to the ground, the Saint closed her eyes in death, and received the crown of martyrdom, in the year of our Lord, 303.
The prophecy that the persecution of the Christians would soon cease, with which she had comforted the faithful shortly before her end, became true. Her holy body was buried at Syracuse. From time immemorial this holy virgin and martyr has been invoked by those who suffer from diseases of the eyes.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.I. Impress deeply into your heart three memorable sayings of St. Lucy. The first regards almsgiving before death. This is much more agreeable to the Almighty, and much more useful to you than to give after your death. May you choose what is most agreeable to God and most useful to yourself. The second is the answer which she gave to Paschasius: "You obey the command of the Emperor, and I, the command of God. You fear a mortal man, and I fear the immortal God; Him I must obey." May you act according to these words. Keep the commandments of the Lord, for He can truly be more useful to you, and harm you more than all mortal men. The third is comprised in the following words : "Those whose life is chaste, are a temple of the Holy Ghost." For whom then are the unchaste a dwelling? Surely, for no one else than the spirit of hell. Should not this thought alone awaken in you the greatest horror for the vice of unchastity, and an especial love for the virtue of purity?
Besides these three maxims, consider how miraculously St. Lucy was strengthened and protected by the power of God, in such a manner that no force could move her from where she stood. Endeavor, at least, to be immovable in your intention, to live more piously, and to shun sin, especially that sin to which you are most addicted. In order not to become guilty of it again, you ought to stand as immovable as a rock in the sea. Let prayer and trust in God be your help, as they were St. Lucy's. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast and immovable," says St. Paul. (1 Cor. xv.)
St. Lucy from the Liturgical Year, 1905There comes to us, today, the fourth of our wise virgins, the valiant martyr, Lucy. Her glorious name shines on the sacred diptych of the Canon of the Mass, together with those of Agatha, Agnes, and Cecily ; and as often as we hear it pronounced during these days of Advent, it reminds us (for Lucy signifies light) that He who consoles the Church, by enlightening her children, is soon to be with us. Lucy is one of the three glories of the Church of Sicily; as Catania is immortalized by Agatha, and Palermo by Rosalie, so is Syracuse by Lucy.
Therefore, let us devoutly keep her feast: she will aid us by her prayers during this holy season, and will repay our love by obtaining for us a warmer love of that Jesus, whose grace enabled her to conquer the world. Once more let us consider, why our Lord has not only given us apostles, martyrs, and bishops as guides to us on our road to Bethlehem, but has willed also that we should be accompanied thither by such virgins as Lucy. The children of the Church are forcibly reminded by this, that, in approaching the crib of their sovereign Lord and God, they must bring with them, besides their faith, that purity of mind and body without which no one can come near to God.
Prayers to Saint, Virgin & Martyr
Patroness of the blind and of eye problems
I. By that admirable faith, which thou hadst, O glorious Saint Lucy, when thou didst declare to the tyrant that no one would have been able to take from thee the Holy Spirit, Who dwelt in thy heart as in His temple, obtain for me from Our Lord that I may be so blessed as to live always in a holy and salutary fear of losing His grace, and to flee from everything that might be the occasion of my suffering so grievous a loss.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.
II. By that singular predilection, O glorious Saint Lucy, which thy immaculate Spouse, Jesus Christ, had for thee, when by an unheard of miracle He rendered thee immovable in spite of all the attempts of thy enemies to drag thee into a place of sin and infamy, obtain for me the grace never to yield to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and the fight constantly against their assaults by the continual mortification of all my senses.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.
III. By that glowing love which thou hadst for Jesus, O glorious Saint Lucy, when , after being consecrated to Him by an irrevocable vow, thou didst refuse the most eligible suitors and, after distributing all thy goods to feed the poor, thou didst also sacrifice thy life by the sword that passed through thy neck, obtain for me the grace to burn constantly with a holy love, by means of which I may be ready to renounce all earthly goods and to endure all evils rather than to become, even in the slightest degree, unfaithful to Jesus.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.
V. Pray for us, O blessed Lucy.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us Pray.
Mercifully hear us, O God of our salvation, that even as we rejoice in the constant faith of blessed Lucy, thy Virgin and Martyr, so we may be instructed in sentiments of loving devotion. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
An Indulgence of 300 days once a day.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if these prayers together with the versicle and prayer are repeated daily for a whole month (S.C. Ind., Feb. 27, 1886; S.P. Ap., Dec. 10, 1935 and May 20, 1949).
Dear Saint Lucy, whose name doth signify the light, we come to thee filled with confidence: do thou obtain for us a holy light that shall make us careful not to walk in the ways of sin, nor to remain enshrouded in the darkness of error. We ask also, through thy intercession, for the preservation of the light of our bodily eyes and for the abundant grace to use the same, according to the good pleasure of God without any hurt to our souls. Grant, O Lucy, that after venerating thee and giving thee thanks for thy powerful protection here on earth, we may come at length to share thy joy in paradise in the everlasting light of the Lamb of God, thy beloved Bridegroom, even Jesus. Amen.
An Indulgence of 300 days once a day.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if the daily recitation of this prayer is continued for a month (S.C. Ind., Dec. 29, 1907; S.P. Ap., June 7, 1936).
We present ourselves before thee, O virgin martyr, beseeching thee to obtain for us that we may recognize in His lowliness that same Jesus whom thou now seest in His glory. Take us under thy powerful patronage. Thy name signifies light; guide us through the dark night of this life. O fair light of virginity! enlighten us; evil concupiscence has wounded our eyes: pray for us, O thou bright light of virginity! that our blindness be healed, and that rising above created things we may be able to see that true light, which shineth in darkness, but which darkness cannot comprehend. Pray for us, that our eye may be purified, and may see, in the Child who is to be born at Bethlehem, the new Man, the second Adam, the model on which the life of our regeneration must be formed. Pray too, O holy virgin, for the Church of Rome and for all those which adopt her form of the holy Sacrifice; for they daily pronounce at the altar of God thy sweet name; and the Lamb, who is present, loves to hear it. Heap thy choicest blessings on the fair Isle, which was thy native land, and where grew the palm of thy martyrdom. May thy intercession secure to her inhabitants firmness of faith, purity of morals, and temporal prosperity, and deliver them from the disorders which threaten her with destruction. Amen.
Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B.. The Liturgical Year: Advent Volume I, pg. 454-455. Trans. Dom Laurence Shepherd. Great Falls , Montana, St. Bonaventure Publications, 2000 (Reprinted from 1949 original)
We present ourselves before thee, O virgin martyr, beseeching thee to obtain for us that we may recognize in His lowliness that same Jesus whom thou now seest in His glory. Take us under thy powerful patronage. Thy name signifies light; guide us through the dark night of this life. O fair light of virginity! enlighten us; evil concupiscence has wounded our eyes : pray for us, O thou bright light of virginity ! that our blindness be healed, and that rising above created things, we may be able to see that true light, which shineth in darkness, but which darkness cannot comprehend.
Pray for us, that our eye may be purified, and may see, in the Child who is to be born at Bethlehem, the new Man, the second Adam, the model on which the life of our regeneration must be formed. Pray too, O holy virgin, for the Church of Rome and for all those which adopt her form of the holy Sacrifice; for they daily pronounce at the altar of God thy sweet name ; and the Lamb, who is present, loves to hear it. Heap thy choicest blessings on the fair Isle, which was thy native land, and where grew the palm of thy martyrdom. May thy intercession secure to her inhabitants firmness of faith, purity of morals, and temporal prosperity, and deliver them from the disorders which threaten her with destruction. (1905)