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St. Lucy (December 13)

December 13, 2008

Today we honor another heroine of the early Church, St. Lucy, whose name means “Light”
(appropriate for this dark time of year!).
Those of you who had the privilege of attending Mass this morning
may’ve noticed that the priest’s vestments were red, indicating that she was a martyr.

Lucy was born of an honorable, wealthy family on the island of Sicily (just off the toe of Italy)
in the late 200’s.
She lost her father while still very young (_Butler’s Lives of the Saints_ says in her infancy),
and was raised a Christian by her mother, Eutychia,
who betrothed Lucy against her will to a young pagan nobleman.
Lucy, having made a secret vow of virginity, sought to avoid the marriage.
Earthly marriage, while a good and beautiful source of grace,
is only a sign of the heavenly reality:
the marriage of the Lamb, of Christ and the Church.
God had called Lucy to skip the sign,
to devote herself fully to the Reality to which it pointed.
Her Spouse was Christ.

It just so happened that Eutychia had suffered from a hemorrhage for four years,
that doctors had been unable to cure.
Less than 50 miles away, healings were reported at the tomb of St. Agatha,
a virgin martyred 52 years earlier during the persecution under Emperor Decius.
Lucy persuaded her mother to go to Agatha’s tomb on pilgrimage and ask for a cure.
When this cure was granted, Lucy then told her of her vow of virginity.
In gratitude for her new-found health, Eutychia agreed to let Lucy devote herself to God.

Lucy’s first step was to sell her dowry and distribute the money to the poor.
This did not go unnoticed by her betrothed,
who took his revenge by denouncing her to the governor as a Christian.
The timing was bad.
Emperor Dioceletian had only recently reinstated persecution against Christians,
whom he saw as a threat to his own power.
First the court condemned Lucy to prostitution,
but the soldiers who came to arrest her were unable to move her,
despite heroic efforts.
An attempt to burn her to death then failed
and she was finally slain with a sword in the year 303 or 304,
joining her Bridegroom, Christ, at the wedding feast of Heaven.

She is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.

St. Lucy, devout, generous, steadfast and courageous,
please pray that God would protect our holiness as He protected yours,
that nothing may prevent us from joining you in Heaven.

“The body is not corrupted unless the heart and will give consent:
for if you made me sacrifice by my hands, by force, to the idols, against my will,
God shall take it only as a derision, for He judges only of the will and consenting.
And therefore, if you make my body to be defouled without my assent, and against my will,
my chastity shall increase double to the merit of the crown of glory.
What you do to the body, which is in your power,
bears no prejudice to the handmaid of Jesus Christ.”
-St. Lucy
Golden Legend

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