Lucia was born around the year 283 in Syracuse and died there around the year 304. Her name means ‘the shining one’ and comes from the Latin name lux (‘light’).
She ist invoked for eye diseases, blood flow, sore throat, infectious diseases, childhood diseases and dysentery. She is the patron saint of the poor, the blind, the repentant prostitutes, the sick children and the cities of Syracuse and Venice. She is also the patron saint of lawyers, farmers and various trades.
Lucia was the daughter of a rich Roman citizen of Syracuse who died early. Her mother Eutychia had engaged Lucia against her will. She had pledged eternal virginity in the name of Christ.
On a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Agatha, Eutychia was healed from the suffering of the blood flow. Thereupon she finally agreed to her daughter’s vow and converted herself to Christianity.
When Lucia returned, she rejected her fiancé and broke the engagement. With her fortune and with the support of her family she founded a clinic for the poor and sick. It is also reported that Lucia brought food to her fellow believers’ hiding places. So that she had both hands free to carry the food, she put a wreath of lights on her head to find the way in the darkness.
Saint Lucia in Santo Stefano Rotondo (Rome)
Lucia’s rejected husband-to-be accused her of being a Christian in the diokletian persecution. The judge Paschasius wanted to have her brought to a brothel, but a team of oxen and 1000 men could not move the tied Lucia. Neither a sorcerer nor fire ignited around her and boiling oil poured over her could harm her.
There are different stories about her death. In one of them a man put a sword through her throat; with her neck cut she prayed loudly and announced the end of the persecutions and the near peace of the Christian empire.
According to another tradition, she was beheaded. Other legends tell that she had torn out her beautiful eyes and sent them on a bowl to her fiancé, but Mary gave her even more beautiful eyes. Lucia died only after Bishop Eutychius had given her the Eucharist.
She has always been a popular saint in Italy. Lucia customs can also be found in Hungary, Serbia and southern Germany. Saint Lucia’s Day of Remembrance is 13 December. It is often associated with light rites.