Saint Lucy of Syracuse
Virgin and Martyr
Saint Lucy was a young Christian maiden of Syracuse in Sicily. She had already offered her virginity to God and refused to marry, when her mother pressed her to accept the offer of a young pagan. The mother was afflicted afterwards for several years by an issue of blood, and all human remedies were ineffectual. Lucy reminded her mother that a woman in the Gospel, suffering from the same disorder, had been healed by the divine power. They determined to make a journey to Catania, a port of Sicily, where the tomb of Saint Agatha, martyred in 251, was already a site of pilgrimage. Saint Agatha, Lucy said, stands ever in the sight of Him for whom she died. Only touch her sepulchre with faith, and you will be healed. The Saint of Catania had already saved that city, when Mount Etna had erupted the year after her martyrdom: some frightened pagans, seeing a course of lava descending directly toward the city, had uncovered her tomb, and at once it had stopped.
Saint Lucy and her mother spent an entire night praying by the tomb, until, overcome by weariness, both fell asleep. Saint Agatha appeared in vision to Saint Lucy, and addressing her sister in the faith, foretold her mother’s recovery and Lucy’s future martyrdom: You will soon be the glory of Syracuse, as I am of Catania. At that instant the cure was effected; and in her gratitude the mother allowed her daughter to distribute her wealth among the poor, and to conserve her virginity.
The young man who had sought her hand in marriage denounced her as a Christian during the persecution of Diocletian, but Our Lord, by a special miracle, saved from outrage this virgin He had chosen for His own. The executioners who would have taken her to a house of ill fame were unable to move her. The exasperated prefect gave orders to attach her by cords to harnessed bulls, but the bulls, too, did not succeed, and he accused her of being a magician. How can you, a feeble woman, triumph over a thousand men? She replied, Bring ten thousand, and they will not be able to combat against God! A fire kindled around her did her no harm, though she was covered with resin and oil. When a sword was plunged into her heart, the promise made at the tomb of Saint Agatha was fulfilled. Saint Lucy died, predicting peace for the Church.
Reflection: The Saints had to bear sufferings and temptations greater far than any of ours. How did they overcome them? By the love of Christ. Nourish this pure love by meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life; and, above all, by devotion to the Holy Eucharist, which is the antidote against sin and the pledge of eternal life.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14; Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).