Thursday, August 18, 2022

Saints for Today: Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (283-304)

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Suzanne Hammons
Suzanne Hammons is the editor of the Voice of the Southwest and the media coordinator for the Diocese of Gallup. A graduate of Benedictine College in Kansas, she joined the Diocesan staff in 2012.

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Lucy lost her father when she was a child but was, by all accounts, a resolute, devout Christian and young Sicilian. She had a loving mother, yet Lucy kept secret her Christian faith and her vow of virginity. Her mother, Eutychia, was a wealthy noblewoman from Syracuse. She followed tradition by betrothing her adolescent daughter to a local youth. This expectation made Lucy confess her Christian faith and she invited her mother to accompany her on a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Agatha. The two women prayed at this shrine and Eutychia was cured of hemorrhages from which she suffered. Grateful and convinced of Lucy’s faith, she released the girl from the betrothal. However, the young man was furious at the rejection of his marriage offer, and reported Lucy to the authorities who promptly arrested her.

The persecution by the Emperor Diocletian was famous for its zeal in attacking Christianity, with many of its followers perishing in cruel and torturous death. The emperor sentenced Lucy to be taken to a brothel. However, it was said that the girl became immovable. Neither a gang of strong men nor a team of oxen could shift her. Her wardens could not lift her to take her to the stake for burning. The Holy Spirit, making her miraculously heavy, had filled her. So instead, it is claimed, they tore out her eyes and threw them on a platter. Lucy calmly took hold of them and put them back in their sockets. Her sight was mysteriously restored. Frustrated by the failure of their cruel methods in persuading the saint to abandon her faith or her virginity, the soldiers beheaded the young girl.

"Lucy Before the Judge" by Lorenzo Lotto, 1523.
“Lucy Before the Judge” by Lorenzo Lotto, 1523.


St. Lucy ranks with Saints Agnes, Agatha, and Cecilia as one of the early Church’s four great virgin martyrs. Lucy knew of the heroism of these earlier virgin martyrs. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God.

Devotion to St. Lucy has remained strong for more than seventeen hundred years, not only in her native Sicily but also throughout the Christian world. Even the overwhelmingly Protestant countries of Scandinavia celebrate the feast day of Santa Lucia. Few facts about St. Lucy’s life are known, all that is certain is that her martyrdom occurred during the persecution of Christians by the roman emperor Diocletian.


Craughwell, Thomas J. “This Saint Will Change Your Life.” Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2007.
Creighton-Jobe, Rev. Ronald, et al. “The Complete Illustrated History of Catholicism and the Catholic Saints.” Wigston, Leicestershire: Anness Publishing, 2011.
Foley, Leonard, O.F.M., and Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. “Saint of the Day.” Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009.


Featured photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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