Lucia of Syracuse, also called Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy, was a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletian Persecution. She is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches.
St. Lucy is venerated on her feast day on December 13th. In Sweden, St. Lucia’s Day marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration. On that day, the eldest daughter of the family traditionally dresses in a white robe and wears as a crown an evergreen wreath studded with candles.
St. Lucy is the virgin martyr of Siracusa. She is also the patron saint of the blind and the patron saint of authors.
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Every year on December 13th in Siracusa, the procession starts at the Piazza Duomo in Ortiga. A 16th century solid silver statue of Saint Lucy is brought from the Piazza del Duomo to the Basilica del Sepoloro outside the walls of the old town of Ortigia. This Basilica was built by the Normans in the 11th century. Adjacent to the Basilica, a baroque temple houses the burial place of Saint Lucy. Her holy relics were housed here intil 1039, when the Byzantine General Georgio Maniace took her remains to Constantinople as a tribute to Empress Theodora.
During the 4th Crusade, the Venetians transported her remains to Venice and they are housed in the Church of Saints Geremia and Lucia. After the procession, the statue of Saint Lucy remains at the Basilica del Sepoloro for eight days and then it is returned to the Piazza del Duomo. Many devotees of Santa Lucia participate in the procession in bare feet to honor her.
According to legend, she was born in the town of Syracuse on the island of Sicily, to a wealthy family. As she grew older she choose to live her life like that of St. Agatha, who was a revered saint in Catania. She vowed to remain a virgin and give her possessions to the poor and needy.
The name Lucia means light and is linked to her virtues; virginal rectitude. She lived prior to the Edict of Milan in 313 which allowed Christians the freedom to profess their religion. Prior to that time, Christians were persecuted for their belief in Christ.
Lucia was very generous and brought food to the many Christians who hid in underground tunnels. To find her way she would wear a wreath with candles while carrying the trays of food.
Her mother found a suitor for her to wed, but marriage was not in her plans. When she rejected her future husband, her whistle-blower fiancee reported her to the authorities and according to Diocletian‘s Law she was persecuted and stabbed in the throat with a spear for being a Christian on December 13, 304.
“Sicilians pay tribute to a miracle performed by St Lucy during a famine in 1582. At that time, she brought a flotilla of grain-bearing ships to starving Sicily, whose citizens cooked and ate the wheat without taking time to grind it into flour. Thus, on St. Lucy’s Day, Sicilians don’t eat anything made with wheat flour. Instead they eat cooked wheat called cuccia.”
To learn more about Sicily visit www.vino-con-vista.com
- Andersonville’s St. Lucia Festival of Lights in Chicago (vinoconvistablog.me)
- Travel Sicily: Taormina, Siracusa, Mt. Etna (vino-con-vista.net)
- Sicily (videos.vinoconvistablog.com)