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Saint Lucy

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Saint Lucy with martyr's palm and carrying her own eyes on a cushion; painted church statue
Saint Lucy with martyr's palm and carrying her own eyes on a cushion; painted church statue

Saint Lucy is the Catholic patron saint of the blind and eye diseases, of recovery from epidemics and throat infections, and of martyrs. Her feast day is celebrated on December 13.

Lucy was born in 238 C.E., in Syracuse, a town in Sicily. Hers was a rich, noble Roman family. She dedicated her virginity to God, hoping to give her dowry money to the poor. Not knowing anything about this, and seeking to secure Lucy’s future as her own health declined, her mother Eutychia promised her in marriage to a young man of a wealthy Pagan family. Lucy encouraged Eutychia to go to a shrine of Saint Agatha to pray for a cure. While there, Lucy received a message from Saint Agatha in a dream: Eutychia would be cured, and Lucy would one day become the glory of Syracuse, as Saint Agatha was the glory of Catania (the location of her shrine). Lucy soon persuaded Eutychia to give away most of their wealth. Lucy’s fiance heard of this, and denounced her as a Christian. When she refused to burn incense to the Emperor, the governor Paschasius ordered her sent to a brothel to be raped. However, the guards were unable to remove her, not even by hitching her to a team of horses. They surrounded her with firewood and lit it, but it would not burn. At last she was stabbed in the throat. First, though, when she prophesied doom for those who punished her, the executioners gouged out her eyes.

Saint Lucy is usually depicted holding a plate with her eyes on it, while in her head are the eyes that God restored to her body after death.. She is also shown holding a martyr’s palm frond, and sometimes also the dagger that killed her, either in her hand or transfixing her neck.

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