December 13, 2017: ST. LUCY
December 13, 2017: ST. LUCY, VIRGIN AND MARTYR
By thy patience thou hast saved thy soul, O Lucy, the spouse of Christ; thou hatedst the things of this world, and now thou shinest with the Angels: thou hast overcome the enemy by thy own blood.
Give ear to us, O God our Saviour, that as we celebrate with joy the solemnity of blessed Lucy, thy Virgin and Martyr, so we may improve in the affection of true piety. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
There comes to us, to-day, [one] of our Wise Virgins, the valiant Martyr, Lucy. Her glorious name shines on the sacred Dyptich of the Canon of the Mass, together with those of Agatha, Agnes, and Cecily; and as often as we hear it pronounced during these days of Advent, it reminds us (for Lucy signifies Light), that He who consoles the Church, by enlightening her children, is soon to be with us. Lucy is one of the three glories of the Church of Sicily; as Catania is immortalised by Agatha, and Palermo by Rosaly, so is Syracuse by Lucy. Therefore, let us devoutly keep her feast: she will aid us by her prayers during this holy season, and will repay our love by obtaining for us a warmer love of that Jesus, whose grace enabled her to conquer the world. Once more let us consider, why our Lord has not only given us Apostles, Martyrs, and Bishops as guides to us on our road to Bethlehem, but has willed also that we should be accompanied thither by such Virgins as Lucy. The children of the Church are forcibly reminded by this, that, in approaching the Crib of their Sovereign Lord and God, they must bring with them, besides their faith, that purity of mind and body without which no one can come near to God.
Let us now read the glorious Acts of the Virgin Lucy.
Lucy, a Virgin of Syracuse, illustrious by birth and by the Christian faith, which she had professed from her infancy, went to Catania, with her mother Eutychia, who was suffering from a flax of blood, there to venerate the body of the blessed Agatha. Having prayed fervently at the tomb, she obtained her mother’s cure, by the intercession of Agatha. Lucy then asked her mother that she would permit her to bestow upon the poor of Christ the fortune which she intended to leave her. No sooner, therefore, had she returned to Syracuse, than she sold all that was given to her, and distributed the money amongst the poor.
When he to whom her parents had, against her will, promised her in marriage, came to know what Lucy had done, he went before the Prefect Paschasius, and accused her of being a Christian. Paschasius entreated and threatened, but could not induce her to worship the idols; nay, the more he strove to shake her faith, the more inflamed were the praises which she uttered in professing its excellence. He said, therefore, to her: We shall have no more of thy words, when thou feelest the blows of my executioners. To this the Virgin replied: Words can never be wanting to God's servants, for Christ our Lord has said to them: When you shall be brought before kings and governors, take no thought how or what to speak; for it shall be given to you in that hour what to speak; for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit that speaketh in you.
Paschasius then asked her: Is the Holy Spirit in thee? She answered: They who live chastely and piously, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He said: I will order thee to be taken to a brothel, that this Holy Spirit may leave thee. The Virgin said to him: The violence wherewith thou threatenest me would obtain for me a double crown of chastity. Whereupon Paschasius being exceeding angry, ordered Lucy to be dragged to a place where her treasure might be violated; but, by the power of God, so firmly was she fixed to the place where she stood, that it was impossible to move her. Wherefore the Prefect ordered her to be covered over with pitch, resin, and boiling oil, and a fire to be kindled round her. But seeing that the flame was not permitted to hurt her, they tormented her in many cruel ways, and at length ran a sword through her neck. Thus wounded, Lucy foretold the peace of the Church, which would come after the deaths of Dioclesian and Maximian, and then died. It was the Ides of December (Dec. 13). Her body was buried at Syracuse, but was translated thence first to Constantinople, and afterwards to Venice.
Another narration of the life of St. Lucy
The glorious virgin and martyr St. Lucy, one of the brightest ornaments of the church of Sicily, was born of honourable and wealthy parents in the city of Syracuse, and educated from her cradle in the faith of Christ. She lost her father in her infancy, but Eutychia, her mother, took singular care to furnish her with tender and sublime sentiments of piety and religion. By the early impressions which Lucy received, and the strong influence of divine grace, Lucy discovered no disposition but toward virtue, and she was yet very young when she offered to God the flower of her virginity. This vow, however, she kept a secret, and her mother, who was a stranger to it, pressed her to marry a young gentleman who was a pagan. The saint sought occasions to hinder this design from taking effect, and her mother was visited with a long and troublesome flux of blood, under which she laboured four years, without finding any remedy by recourse to physicians. At length she was persuaded by her daughter to go to Catana, and offer up her prayers to God for relief at the tomb of St. Agatha. St. Lucy accompanied her thither, and their prayers were successful. Hereupon our saint disclosed to her mother her desire of devoting herself to God in a state of perpetual virginity, and bestowing her fortune on the poor: and Eutychia, in gratitude, left her at full liberty to pursue her pious inclinations. The young nobleman with whom the mother had treated about marrying her, came to understand this by the sale of her jewels and goods, and the distribution of the price among the poor, and in his rage accused her before the governor Paschasius as a Christian, the persecution of Dioclesian then raging with the utmost fury. The judge commanded the holy virgin to be exposed to prostitution in a brothel-house; but God rendered her immovable, so that the guards were not able to carry her thither. He also made her an overmatch for the cruelty of the persecutors, in overcoming fire and other torments. After a long and glorious combat, she died in prison, of the wounds she had received, about the year 304. She was honoured at Rome in the sixth century among the most illustrious virgins and martyrs, whose triumphs the church celebrates, as appears from the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, Bede, and others. Her festival was kept in England, till the change of religion, as a holy day of the second rank, in which no work but tillage or the like was allowed. Her body remained at Syracusa for many years; but was at length translated into Italy, and thence, by the authority of the Emperor Otho I, to Metz, as Sigebert of Gemblours relates. It is there exposed to public veneration in a rich chapel of St. Vincent's Church. A portion of her relics was carried to Constantinople, and brought thence to Venice, where it is kept with singular veneration. St. Lucy is often painted with the balls of her eyes laid in a dish: perhaps her eyes were defaced or plucked out, though her present acts make no mention of any such circumstance. In many places her intercession is particularly implored for distempers of the eyes.
It is a matter of the greatest consequence what ideas are stamped upon the ductile minds of children, what sentiments are impressed on their hearts, and to what habits they are first formed. Let them be inured to little denials both in their will and senses, and learn that pleasures which gratify the senses must be guarded against, and used with great fear and moderation: for by them the taste is debauched, and the constitution of the soul broken and spoiled much more fatally than that of the body can be by means contrary to its health.
There are few Lucies now-a-days among Christian ladies, because sensuality, pride, and vanity are instilled into their minds by the false maxims and pernicious example of those with whom they first converse. Alas! unless a constant watchfulness and restraint both produce and strengthen good habits, the inclinations of our souls lean of their own accord toward corruption.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Advent, Edition 1870;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. II; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.
St. Lucy, pray for us.