Word of the Day
December 13 is the feast day of St. Lucy, a virgin martyr during the earliest centuries of Christianity, a period of heavy persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire. She is just one of seven women saints to be named in the Roman Canon of the Mass.
The facts about St. Lucy are few — she was a Christian from Syracuse (Sicily) who embraced Christianity in her teens, and committed her virginity to Christ. She was left with a large dowry when her wealthy father died and she refused to marry the pagan man chosen for her by her mother. The spurned suitor denounced her as a Christian to the Governor of Syracuse, Sicily who had Lucy arrested, tortured and executed in the year 304.
The many stories about St. Lucy are reflected in the traditions still carried on today in celebration of her feast day. She is often depicted with a wreath of candles on her head, the result of stories that she wore such headgear when bringing food to the persecuted Catholics hiding in underground catacombs. Known for her beautiful eyes and the miracle of having cured her mother of a bleeding problem, St. Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye disorders.
In Scandinavia, St. Lucy’s Day — Santa Lucia, as she is called — is celebrated with candles, torches and bonfires. Young girls dress in white gowns with red sashes, their heads wreathed in Lingonberry branches, many with candles like an advent wreath. Boys dress as Stärngossar, or star boys and there are processions in towns and villages. There are special Santa Lucia treats as well — Lussekatts, raison buns flavored with saffron that are eaten for breakfast, and Pepparkakor, traditional Swedish Ginger cookies.
In traditional celebrations in Italy, Santa Lucia arrives with treats for the children, like St. Nicholas. The city of Syracuse has a week-long celebration with fireworks and special treats. They eat cuccia, a dessert made from wheat berries, ricotta cheese and sugar; the story is that Sicily suffered from a famine several centuries ago and on St. Lucy’s Day, a ship arrived with wheat that the residents boiled and ate with olive oil.
Suggestion – make your own St. Lucy’s Day celebration with your children.
For a recipe for Cuccia, go here: https://www.mamalisa.com/blog/recipe-for-la-cuccia-a-santa-lucia-dessert/
To make St. Lucia Buns, go here: https://www.thespruce.com/st-lucia-buns-lussekatter-2952941
For other child-friendly resources, go here: https://www.catholicicing.com/st-lucy/
Prayer to St. Lucy:
O God, our Creator and Redeemer, mercifully hear our prayers that as we venerate your servant, Saint Lucy, for the light of faith you bestowed upon her, you would increase and preserve this same light in our souls that we may be able to avoid evil, to do good, and to abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin. Relying on your goodness, O God, we humbly ask you, by the intercessory prayers of your servant, Saint Lucy, that you would give perfect vision to our eyes, that they may serve for your greater honor and glory and for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of your unfailing light of the Lamb of God in paradise. Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.