This week we share stories of December saints, as we continue our Advent retreat.
December 13 is the feast day of St. Lucy. As with many of the early martyrs, little is known about Lucy. She was born in Sicily and died during the persecution of Diocletian. The fact that she is still mentioned in the first Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass shows the great respect that the Church has for her.
One story about Lucy is that she made a vow to remain unmarried. When the man to whom she was engaged found out, he turned her in as a Christian. She was tortured but remained faithful to Jesus Christ.
Lucy’s feast comes during Advent, when we wait for the coming of Christ, the Light of the World. The Scandinavian countries have a special way of celebrating this feast. A young girl is dressed in a white dress and a red sash (as the symbol of martyrdom). She carries palms and wears a crown of candles on her head. In Sweden, girls dressed as Lucy carry rolls and cookies in procession as songs are sung.
A Hungarian custom is to plant wheat in a small pot on St. Lucy’s feast. By Christmas, green sprouts appear, signs of life coming from death. This symbolizes Lucy’s new life, and ours. The wheat is then carried to the manger scene as the symbol of Christ in the Eucharist.
Historically, Christianity has put a great emphasis on a girl’s sexual purity. What other qualities in a woman do you think make her worthy of a saint’s honor?