Today we honor St. Lucy who left us her eyes.

Thursday, 12/13/12

Today is the Feast of St. Lucy, or Sancta Lucia, who was put to death in 303 during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. None of the stories about St. Lucy can be authenticated, but the abundance of fond Christian traditions dealing with Lucy earn a right to our attention.

Lucy’s mother Eutchia was a lady who for years had suffered from dysentery. That had the pair journeying from their home in Syracuse Sicily to the tomb of St. Agatha in Catania Sicily. Eutychia received her cure, and Lucy heard the prophecy that her tomb in Syracuse would be as famous as Agatha’s in Catania. That prophesy settled Lucy’s mind on what she had been secretly intending. She vowed her virginity to God.

Before her father died he had left Lucy’s dowry money with her mother Eutychia. With Lucy having made that vow, Eutychia took the sum bequeathed for Lucy’s dowry, giving it to the poor.

When Lucy’s intended learned of Lucy’s unwillingness to marry him, and when he heard of Eutychia’s giving to the poor the money he had been counting on, he reported Lucy to Diocletian’s soldiers as a Christian. For her tenacious beliefs the judge sentenced Lucy to life in a brothel, but Lucy, standing before him, declared that as long as she withstood sin in her heart, nothing forced on her would be sinful for her. She said, “We can never  be forced to sin against our will.”

A miraculous aspect of the tales told about Lucy had it happen that  when the soldiers tried to haul her off, her weight seemed to have increased to too many tons for the soldiers to budge. The story goes that they even hitched her to a team of oxen. When it could not move her, they finished her off with a dagger into her throat.

Lucy is the patron saint of blind people. One tradition has it that her fiancée had a fondness for her eyes, and he received a gift of them at her execution. Dante gave Lucy, holding her eyes, a very high place in his Paradiso.

I heard a story about church officials centuries later opening Lucy’s tomb in Syracuse. Finding her corpse still fresh under a linen cloth, out of respect for the Lord’s virgin, they reinterred her without lifting the cloth.

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