Today, the Catholic Church honors the memory of St. Lucy. Nowhere in the world is a saint more honored than St. Lucy is in Sicily. She was martyred there in the late third century for refusing to sacrifice to the official gods of the Roman Empire. She gave up her life in a religious act of bravery which has made her revered throughout the ages.
She was tortured to make her change her mind. She never gave in, never renounced her faith even after the authorities blinded her. She is represented as “Lucy, the Light.” The Latin word for light is “lux” and her name is derived from it.
Last year, St. Lucy’s day fell on a Sunday. I was preaching and started the homily off with a challenge. “I’ll bet no one here knows which saint the church honors today.” There on my right, half-way down the aisle a hand went up. I nodded and a beautiful, middle-aged lady answered my question. “It’s the feast of St. Lucy.” Next to her, her husband beamed. His wife’s name was “Lucy.”
Sicily notwithstanding, in the Nordic countries, on the feast of St. Lucy, young girls dressed in brilliant white dresses process into homes singing a St. Lucy hymn and carrying burning candles which light up their faces. It’s a Nordic way of anticipating Christmas. St. Lucy’s candle-lit procession is a perfect reminder of Advent where we wait and watch for the coming of Jesus Who is the Light of the World.