Her name means "light" and reminds us that all Christians are called to reflect the light of Christ to the world. It was natural that she therefore would become the patron saint of the eyes, the "light of the body." SInce her feast occurs during the days of preparation before Christmas, it has traditionally been the day in many countries, especially here in Sweden and Norway, where Christmas lights are illuminated for the first time in the season. Before the Gregorian reform of the calendar, her feastday on December 13 fell on the shortest day of the year. Therefore "Lucy candles" lighted in the homes and "Lucy fires" burned in the outdoors were a celebration that the tide of darkness and winter was turning with the return of the sun.
In the following reading St. Ambrose speaks not of physical light, but rather notes how Lucy and other holy virgins light up their grace of body with the radiance and splendor of their souls.
Saint Lucy was the child of wealthy parents. They lived in the town of Syracuse in Sicily, in the early fourth century, at the time of the persecutions of Diocletian. Her father died when she was still a baby, and she was raised by her mother Eutychia, a pious and devoted Christian.
When Lucy was still a young girl, she made a vow that she would remain unmarried, and would serve God all her life. She kept this vow a secret, so as not to draw any attention to herself.
When she was older, her mother, who did not know of her vow, promised a rich young man of Syracuse that Lucy would marry him. It was a common thing for parents to arrange their children's marriages, so the young man and Lucy's mother were quite sure that this would be acceptable to Lucy.
Lucy tried several times to persuade her mother that she did not want to marry anyone, and avoided meeting the young man as often as she could. Both her mother and the young man were angry with her, but she kept her secret and didn't tell them of her vow. She prayed, asking God for help.
Eutychia became ill with a constant hemorrhage, which made her very weak. Lucy reminded her mother of the story in the Gospels of the woman who was cured of a hemorrhage by touching Christ's cloak. She suggested that they make a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Agatha to pray for healing.
While at the tomb, Eutychia was miraculously healed. Saint Agatha appeared to Lucy in a dream and told her that she would be martyred for Christ's sake. Lucy told her mother of her vow and how she had prayed for some way to change her mother's mind. Grateful for healing, Eutychia allowed Lucy to follow her vow.
Angered by this change in plans, the rich young suitor denounced Lucy to the governor of the region as a Christian. When she was found guilty, a judge ordered that Lucy be sold into slavery. That, he thought, would change her mind about being a Christian.
Soldiers came to take her away, but no matter how hard they tried, Lucy stood as if rooted to the ground. The soldiers were frightened by this, a small young woman as un-moveable as a mountain. They poured oil on her head and set her on fire to try to make her move, but her body was not burned. They demanded why she was not harmed, and she replied that the power of the Lord Jesus Christ protected her. Finally, they stabbed her in the throat with a sword and she died.
Saint Lucy was welcomed into Heaven by Jesus, whom she had loved so much that she had died for Him. Since that time, many legends have grown up around her story. Some say that she was tortured and her eyes were put out before her death. For this reason, Saint Lucy is invoked as the patron of eye ailments. She is also the patron saint of Sweden, because her intercession saved the country from a famine.
In Sweden, on her feast day, the youngest girl of the household makes a procession around the house, with a head-dress of candles. She serves her family sweet buns and coffee.
Let us pray and think to one of the most gentles saints , let ask Saint Lucy intercession for us and for all we love :
Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask you, by the intercession of your servant, Saint Lucy, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that we may serve for your greater honor and glory. And we pray for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of the unfailing light of the Lamb of God in heaven.
St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and answer our petitions. Amen.
Saint Lucy, your beautiful name signifies light. By the light of faith which God bestowed upon you, increase and preserve this light in my soul so that I may avoid evil, be zealous in the performance of good works, and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and the darkness of evil and of sin.
By your intercession with God, obtain for me perfect vision for my bodily eyes and the grace to use thme for God's greater honor and glory and the salvation of all men.
Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. Amen.