According to the records kept of saints, Lucia was a young Syracusan, perhaps born in around 283, who lived in the era of Diocletian’s persecutiona. Daughter of Lucius and Eutiche, when promised as a bride, her mother became gravely ill and Lucia went on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Agatha to pray for her recovery. The Catanese saint appeared to her in a dream and asked her to declare a vow of chastity in exchange for the grace received. Lucia agreed, broke off her engagement, her mother recovered and she started to devote herself to helping poor Christians searching for them in the catacombs with a headlamp. Her fiancé, furious for being left, denounced her as a Christian and Lucia was imprisoned, put on trial and finally martyred. Here we find the link between the figure of the young woman form Syraceuse and the protection of the eyes which is considered her principle attribute for sainthood. According to legend, in order to make her fiancé renounce his engagement to her at any cost, Lucia voluntarily blinded herself. According to another legend, however, at the moment of death, Lucia proclaimed “with my example, I will remove from non-believers the blindness of their pride.”All this information is found in two texts, a Greek Martyrion drawn up between the 5th and 6th centuries, rediscovered in the 17th century, in which the young girl was beheaded, and one (less reliable) Latin hagiography which instead dates back to the 6th and 7th century when she was pierced in the throat with a sword (in the iconography both representations of her death can be found). In the first half of the 14th century, due to the Julian calendar, the winter solstice had already been put back to December 13, the day of Santa Lucia. It’s the day in which the Sun starts to “be reborn” and in the rudimentary agrarian culture, it is a kind of “New Year’s Eve” and the symbol of a fracture between the moments of “death” and “resurrection” of the star. It makes sense that the day was solemnised with elements that referred back to the symbol of light. Santa Lucia (already the name is associated with light) was there, with her lamp, with her eyes and with all the sacred knowledge inherited from antique cultures, which have made her a celebrated metaphor for the light that is reborn and of the season that is directed towards new life.
Sources: Duccio Balestracci per sienanews.it
Symbols of the saint: eyes, lamp, fleur-de-lis e palm.
Feast of Santa Lucia 13 dicembre.