Christian Saints Podcast

Saint Lucy of Syracuse

December 10, 2022 Season 3 Episode 13
Christian Saints Podcast
Saint Lucy of Syracuse
Show Notes Transcript

Saint Lucy of Syracuse was an early Christian martyr from the town of Syracuse in Italy. She was martyred in the early 4th century.  The stories say she used to smuggle supplies to Christians hiding in the catacombs, wearing a wreath of candles so her hands could carry more supplies. Her feast day, 13 December is an important holiday in some parts of Europe, in particular Scandinavia. On Saint Lucy's day little girls would wear candle-lit wreaths in her honor. 

 God is glorious in his saints!
 Welcome to the Christian Saints Podcast. My name is dr Darren Ong, recording from Sepang in Malaysia. In this podcast, we explore the lives of the Christian saints, from the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. Today, we commemorate St Lucy of Syracuse.
 Saint Lucy was a young girl from Syracuse in Italy who was martyred for her faith, in the early years of Christianity. In some ways her story is similar to that of Saint Agnes, whom we have covered before, and other so-called virgin martyrs. This was a reflection on the severe persecution Christians had to endure in the Roman Empire, a persecution that spared no one, not even children. Let us read an account of Saint Lucy’s life from the Golden Legend, a medieval collection of Saints Lives by Jacobus de Voragines. We use a translation by William Granger Ryan
 Lucy comes from lux, which means light. Light is beautiful to look upon; for, as

Ambrose says, it is the nature of light that all grace is in its appearance. Light also

radiates without being soiled; no matter how unclean may be the places where

its beams penetrate, it is still clean. It goes in straight lines, without curvature,

and traverses the greatest distances without losing its speed. Thus we are shown

that the blessed virgin Lucy possessed the beauty of virginity without trace of

corruption; that she radiated charity without any impure love; her progress to-

ward God was straight and without deviation, and went far in God's works

without neglect or delay. Or the name is interpreted "way of light."

Lucy, the daughter of a noble family of Syracusa, saw how the fame of Saint

Agatha was spreading throughout Sicily. She went to the tomb of this saint with

her mother Euthicia, who for four years had suffered from an incurable flow of

blood. The two women arrived at the church during the mass, at the moment

when the passage of the Gospel was being read that tells of the Lord's cure of a

woman similarly afflicted. Then Lucy said to her mother: "If you believe what

you have just heard, you should also believe that Agatha is always in the presence

of him for whose name she suffered martyrdom; and if in this faith you touch the

saint's tomb, you will instantly recover your health."

So, when all the people had left the church, the mother and her daughter

stayed to pray at the tomb. Lucy then fell asleep, and had a vision of Agatha

standing surrounded by angels and adorned with precious stones, and Agatha

said to her: "My sister Lucy, virgin consecrated to God, why do you ask me for

something that you yourself can do for your mother? Indeed, your faith has

already cured her." Lucy, awakening, said to her mother: "Mother, you are

healed! But in the name of her to whose prayers you owe your cure, I beg of you

to release me from my espousals, and to give to the poor whatever you have

been saving for my dowry." "Why not wait until you have closed my eyes," the

mother answered, "and then do whatever you wish with our wealth?" But Lucy

replied: "What you give away at death you cannot take with you. Give while

you live and you will be rewarded."

When they returned home, they began day after day to give away their pos-

sessions to satisfy the needs of the poor. Lucy's betrothed, hearing about this,

asked the girl's nurse what was going on. She put him off by answering that Lucy

had found a better property which she wished to buy in his name, and for that

reason was selling some of her possessions. Being a stupid fellow he saw a future

gain for himself and began to help out in the selling. But when everything had

been sold and the proceeds given to the poor, he turned Lucy over to the consul

Paschasius, accusing her of being a Christian and acting contrary to the laws of

the emperors.

Paschasius summoned her and commanded her to offer sacrifice to the idols.

Lucy's answer was: "The sacrifice that is pleasing to God is to visit the poor and

help them in their need. And since I have nothing left to offer, I offer myself to

the Lord." Paschasius retorted: "Tell that story to fools like yourself, but I abide

by the decrees of my masters, so don't tell it to me." Lucy: "You obey your

masters' laws, and I shall obey the laws of my God. You fear your masters and

I fear God. You are careful not to offend them, I take pains not to offend God.

You want to please them, I wish to please Christ. Do then what you think will

be of benefit to you, and I shall do what I think is good for me." Paschasius:

"You have squandered your patrimony with seducers, and so you talk like a

whore"; but Lucy replied, "As for my patrimony, I have put it in a safe place,

and never have had anything to do with any seducers of the body or of the

mind." Paschasius: "Who are these seducers of the body and the mind?" Lucy:

"You and those like you are seducers of the mind, because you induce souls to

turn away from their Creator. As for the seducers of the body, they are those

who would have us put the pleasures of the flesh ahead of eternal joys."

This moved Paschasius to say: "The sting of the whip will silence your lip!"

Lucy: "The words of God cannot be stilled!" Paschasius: "So you are God?"

Lucy: "I am the handmaid of God, who said to his disciples, 'You shall be

brought before governors and before kings for my sake, but when they shall

deliver you up, take no thought how or what to say, for it is not you that speak

but the Holy Spirit that speaks in you.'" Paschasius: "So the Holy Spirit is in

you?" Lucy: "Those who live chaste lives are the temples of the Holy Spirit."

"Then I shall have you taken to a brothel," said Paschasius, "your body will be

defiled and you will lose the Holy Spirit." "The body is not defiled," Lucy

responded, "unless the mind consents. If you have me ravished against my will,

my chastity will be doubled and the crown will be mine. You will never be able

to force my will. As for my body, here it is, ready for every torture. What are

you waiting for? Son of the devil, begin! Carry out your cruel designs!"

Then Paschasius summoned procurers and said to them: "Invite a crowd to

take their pleasure with this woman, and let them abuse her until she is dead."

But when they tried to carry her off, the Holy Spirit fixed her in place so firmly

that they could not move her. Paschasius called in a thousand men and had her

hands and feet bound, but still they could not lift her. He sent for a thousand

yoke of oxen: the Lord's holy virgin could not be moved. Magicians were

brought in to try to move her by their incantations: they did no better. "What

is this witchery," Paschasius exclaimed, "that makes a thousand men unable to

budge a lone maiden!" "There is no witchery here," said Lucy, "but the power

of Christ; and even if you add ten thousand more, you will find me still un-

movable." Paschasius had heard somewhere that urine would chase away magic,

so he had the maiden drenched with urine: no effect. Next the consul, at the end

of his wits, had a roaring fire built around her and boiling oil poured over her.

And Lucy said: "I have prayed for this prolongation of my martyrdom in order to

free believers from the fear of suffering, and to give unbelievers time to insult me!"

At this point the consul's friends, seeing how distressed he was, plunged a

dagger into the martyr's throat; but, far from losing the power of speech, she

said: "I make known to you that peace has been restored to the Church! This

very day Maximian has died, and Diocletian has been driven from the throne.

And just as God has given my sister Agatha to the city of Catania as protectress,

so I am given to the city of Syracusa as mediatrix."

While the virgin was still speaking, envoys from Rome arrived to seize

Paschasius and take him in chains to Rome, because Caesar had heard that he

had pillaged the whole province. Arriving in Rome he was tried by the Senate

and punished by decapitation. As for the virgin Lucy, she did not stir from the

spot where she had suffered, nor did she breathe her last before priests had

brought her the Body of the Lord and all those present had responded Amen to

the Lord. There also she was buried and a church was raised in her honor. Her

martyrdom took place about the year of the Lord 310

 Saint Lucy’s name sounds like the Latin word for light, lux. Hence there has been a strong association with her and light. She is a saint that one prays to for eye problems, and there is a legend that she brought supplies to Christians hiding in the catacombs by candelight. Let us read a reflection by author Marian Bach on the connection of Lucy and light, from the website of Loyola press
 Marian Bach
Light is very important to us as humans. Light is a necessity as darkness sets in. As humans we count on and sometimes take for granted the physical light around us as well as the light within. That is, until we know darkness.

St. Lucy, whose feast day is celebrated on December 13, is known as the patron saint of blindness. Legend has it that St. Lucy was tortured by Diocletian because of her deep faith. Legend continues that her eyes were taken and concludes that God miraculously restored Lucy’s eyesight. The important message, as I “see” it, is the importance of light and living our faith openly and without fear.

The physical light around us, be it the lights we switch on when darkness comes or the beautiful sunrise and sunlight during the day, is very important. More important is the light of Christ, living within each of us.

Custom has it, especially in the Scandinavian countries, that girls process with candles on their heads to celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy. How wonderful it would be if we would always process forward with the light within our hearts and souls as baptized Christians.

It is said that our eyes are the windows into our souls. There is physical blindness, and there is also inner blindness. I often wonder how many opportunities I have missed or have been blind to when it comes to being an instrument of Christ’s light for others. In a world filled with the darkness of greed, selfishness, and individualism, light is needed, and we have been given the wonderful challenge to be that light for others. Stamping out the darkness that surrounds and envelops our world by courageously standing up for our faith would result in a world of brilliant Christ-light!


St. Lucy, your name means light. You lived your faith, knowing the importance of sharing the light of Christ with others, even when it meant persecution and hardship. Please help us to be light in darkness, to know we are called to carry the light of Christ to a world in need, to our families, our places of work and ministry, and our Church. Help us to see the many opportunities given us each day to be a light in darkness. Amen.

Saint Lucy is a saint with a rather large following. In fact, she is the only woman that has a country named after her, Saint Lucia in the carribean.

Saint Lucy’s feast day is celebrated on Dec 13 in every Christian denomination that celebrates saints. In the Julian calendar, this day is the shortest day of the year. St Lucy’s day is a very important holiday in some countries, particularly in Scandinavia and Italy, where it is a festival of lights. Let us read a delightful account from Tai French in the Anglican Compass website, sharing about how her family celebrates Saint Lucy’s day
Tai French, Anglican Compass
 Flickering candles, hot coffee, and saffron buns. This Scandinavian Advent tradition has its roots in the story of a 3rd-century martyr who brought light and aid to Christian saints in hiding.

(Note: To learn more about Advent and how to celebrate it at home with family and friends, read A Thrill of Hope: Celebrating Advent at Home by Ashley Wallace! There’s a whole section on Saint Lucy’s Day in the book!)

Celebrated on December 13 (one week after St Nicholas day), the feast day of St. Lucy is one of warmth, light, abundance, and generosity—pointing towards the coming of the Great Light.

Where Did St Lucy’s Day Come From?

St. Lucy (or Lucia), whose very name means “light,” was a Christian in Sicily during the 3rd century. Eventually martyred during the persecutions of Diocletian, legend tells that she would sneak food to Christians who had been forced into hiding in catacombs. In order to carry more provisions, she’s said to have worn a wreath of candles on her head to light her way in the dark night.

Her feast day shows up quite early in history and ecclesiastical record, although the “traditional” celebrations are more modern.

So how did a Sicilian saint come to be celebrated in Scandinavia?

Well, according to a medieval legend, during a particularly dark, sparse winter, a ship bearing Lucy’s image, loaded with sacks of wheat, arrived on the shores of Lake Vännern and kept the people from starving. Lucy’s feast day coincided with the turning of the year, winter solstice, and came to symbolize the return of light, warmth, and hope.

How Do We Celebrate St Lucy’s Day?

Although the feast is celebrated in many countries with different treats and traditions, the most familiar image is of a young girl in a white gown (symbolizing Lucy’s baptismal robe and purity) and red sash (representing her martyrdom) with a wreath of candles on her head, processing with light, singing, and bread through the dark of night.

In our house, we make saffron buns (or we get them from IKEA if we forget). The night before, we lay out the coffee tray, ready for the morning.

Before dawn, our oldest daughter gets up and, helped by her sisters, dresses in a white nightgown, makes the coffee, lights her (LED) wreath crown, and processes into our room with singing and the breakfast tray.

It’s good fun for all, but can also be a perfect opportunity to discuss the coming of the Light into the darkness, the Bread of Life, and the hope of the martyrs and saints. It’s a bright spot in the Advent season of longing and a celebration our children look forward to!

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Christian saints podcast. Look for the Christian Saints podcast page on Facebook or Instagram, or look for us on Twitter at podcast_saints. All music in this episode was composed by my good friend, James John Marks of Generative sounds. Please check out his music at If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider giving us a 5-star review on Itunes or whatever podcast app you use, so more people can find the Christian saints podcast and be blessed by these stories of the saints.

Troparion — Tone 5

(Podoben: “Come, let us worship the Word...”)
Wearing the radiant mantle of virginity, / and virginally betrothed to the Life-giver Christ, / you forsook the love of your earthly betrothed; / therefore, as a bridal gift, / you brought to Him the outpouring of your blood. / O Virgin Martyr Lucy, intercede with Him for us all!

Kontakion — Tone 3

We honor you, pure Virgin and trophy-bearer Lucy, / and we praise your illustrious contest; / for you desired only the beauty of Christ, / disdaining all corruptible things. / When you were beheaded, you received incorruptible glory.