The Feast of Saint Lucy:
Giving the Holiday Phrase “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” A Whole New Meaning
December 13th marks the feast day of St. Lucy and it’s on days like this that your author marvels at how mired in blood and gore his religion of Catholicism truly is. In the ancient calendars of the Church the 13th of December marked the shortest day of the year or Winter Solstice. The name “Lucy” is Latin for “light”.
From what is known historically, Lucy was born to a wealthy patrician family of pagans in Syracuse, Sicily in the 3rd century. From the legends that have arisen around her life it’s inferred the girl was quite psychicly gifted. A martyr who lost her life 50 years earlier in the same area who would eventually be venerated as Saint Agatha comes to Lucy in a dream and not only convinces her to convert to Christianity but begins to show her prophetic visions, such as her mother who suffered from a “bleeding disorder” being cured of her affliction. Soon after Agatha’s visit and its subsequent visions of the unfolding future occur, Lucy is told she must marry a rich pagan suitor in town but she informs all parties she is already taken by the love of Christ.
Lucy’s spiritual betrothal to her new faith is not what gets her in hot water with the Roman authorities. The girl is arrested due to said pagan suitor finding out she has already given away her jewels and sizable dowry money to the Christians who suffer in poverty. Next thing Lucy knows she is made to stand before the Roman governor who has just been given orders by the Emperor Diocletian to basically do away with any/all of that peskily annoying cult better known as Christians. The governor decides he will make an example of this brazen Christian convert by forcing her to renounce her faith in front of as many people as possible, so he has Lucy brought to the center of an amphitheater filled to capacity as he interrogates the girl from his royal seating box.
In front of a jeering crowd, the governor says he will allow Lucy to live if she worships an image of the Emperor Diocletian and just says “No!” to Christ. Lucy replies with a one word response “Never.”. Noticing her striking beauty, rather than immediately destroying her physical self, the governor decides instead to have the young virgin’s body defiled through gang rape and summons his soldiers that the girl be taken to the local brothel and for them to have their way with her however they wished. When the Roman soldiers go to take Lucy by force, they cannot. The girl has been rendered immovable.
Still enjoying the escapade, the governor then orders for the insolent girl to be tied to oxen and commands that the beasts of burden drag her to the house of harlotry. Lucy still cannot be moved. Enraged and highly embarrassed the governor decides to end the girl’s life in the presence of the amphitheater crowd who have gone from loudly mocking Lucy to a group transfixed in total silence. The governor then thinks there’s no better visual spectacle than a person being lit aflame and commands that wood blocks be brought in along with a stake to which Lucy is tied to like a center stage circus act. But when torches are taken to the blocks of wood, they will not burn. The governor, in complete exasperation demands that oil be fetched to affirm that the girl will be burnt alive. While all are waiting for the lighting oil, Lucy suddenly goes into a trance. From her eyes comes a luminous light and she begins preaching to the crowd by informing those present of what she is being shown that has yet to come to pass.
Lucy sees not only the imminent death of the governor but of the Emperor Diocletian’s untimely demise along with the fall of the mighty Roman Empire itself. She announces that her faith shall not be squelched but rather shall prosper and thrive proclaiming in joyous defiance that all the world shall soon enough bask in Christ’s love. At this point the governor is enraged, exasperated, and is frankly petrified to his core as to what this girl is claiming to see. Remembering the visual spectacle of things he stands before the crowds and announces, “You dare insult the gods and our deity Emperor by these visions you see? Then see no more!“
The governor commands for Lucy’s eyes to be gouged out. He then puts an end to all the visuals by demanding someone put a sword through the girl’s neck to which Lucy’s life is officially put to an end.
As if to make up for all the aforementioned blood, gore, and gouging, when Lucy’s body is given to her family for burial, upon being placed in her family’s mausoleum it’s discovered the girl’s eyes have miraculously returned to their sockets. The young martyr supposedly lost her life on the 13th of December and Lucy was made the patron saint of the blind and of all disorders and diseases of the eye. As if that wasn’t graphic enough, iconic images of the saint traditionally show the girl holding her eyeballs in her hands or her jelly balled sight organs being neatly placed on a plate she holds.
Lucy’s feast day of December 13th has long been celebrated in Scandinavia, given it occurs when most of the 24 hour day is in darkness. On that day Swedish girls dress all in white and parade to their church wearing head pieces holding the four candles of Advent with the center piece being a tall center candle symbolizing the “light” of Saint Lucy.
During this festive time of year, your author can’t help but think of the legend of Saint Lucy giving the phrase from that wildly popular Holiday movie,”A Christmas Story” of “You’ll shoot your eye out.” a whole new meaning.
*Detailed captions are below each picture in the slideshow above, just click on any of the images to read them.
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