Friday, December 13, 2013


Today is the festa of Santa Lucia and, for those of you who do not know her story, here is an edited version of a post of mine about her from 2009:

Santa Lucia was martyred in Siracusa in 304 AD during the Persecution of Diocletian. She is one of my favourite saints, along with St Martin and St Francis, because a feminist reading of her story would lead one to conclude that she was partially condemned for her unconventionality [though I suppose all saints were unconventional].

Lucia consecrated her virginity to God and expressed a wish to give all her worldly goods to the poor. She refused to marry a pagan, but her spurned fiancé had his revenge after Lucia and her mother, Eutychia [or Eutychiaea], visited Catania in the hope that the martyred Sant'Agata of that city would cure Eutychia of a haemorrage. Eutychia was cured and Lucia distributed some of her wealth to the poor, thus incurring the further wrath of her would-be husband, who denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Sicily.

First condemned to become a prostitute, Lucia literally could not be moved, so then her persecutors unsuccessfully tried to burn her. Finally she was decapitated with a sword and the story goes that her eyes were gouged out first. One legend has it that only her eyes remained of her, but there is also a story that her body lay undisturbed in Sicily for 400 years before other relics were dispersed. In art, Santa Lucia is often represented with her eyes on a plate and church-goers in Italy are given tiny pieces of pasta representing her eyes on 13th December.

Other symbols of Santa Lucia are the sword and the palm and she is the protector of electricians, eye specialists and the blind.

A Sicilian proverb tells us,

Da santa Lucia a Natali quant'un passu di cani. 
- From Santa Lucia's Day till Christmas the days lengthen by a dog's step.

Beniamino Gigli - Santa Lucia


Saucy Siciliana said...

Wow, you know more about Santa Lucia than I do!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Very kind of you to say so, Francesca.


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