1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lucia, St

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LUCIA (or Lucy), ST, virgin and martyr of Syracuse, whose name figures in the canon of the mass, and whose festival is celebrated on the 13th of December. According to the legend, she lived in the reign of Diocletian. Her mother, having been miraculously cured of an illness at the sepulchre of St Agatha in Catania, was persuaded by Lucia to distribute all her wealth to the poor. The youth to whom the daughter had been betrothed forthwith denounced her to Pascasius, the prefect, who ordered that she should be taken away and subjected to shameful outrage. But it was found that no force which could be applied was able to move her from the spot on which she stood; even boiling oil and burning pitch had no power to hurt her, until at last she was slain with the sword. The most important documents concerning St Lucy are the mention in the M arlyrologium H ieronymianum and the ancient inscription discovered at Syracuse, in which her festival is indicated. Many paintings represent her bearing her eyes in her hand or on a salver. Some artists have even represented her blind, but nothing in her Acta justifies this representation. It is probable that it originated in a play upon words (Lucia, from Lat. lux, light), just as St Clair is invoked in cases of eye-disease.

See O. Caietanus, Vitae sanctorum Siculorum, i. 114-121 (Palermo, 1657); loannes de Ioanne, Acta sincera sanctae Luciae (Palermo, 1758); Analecta Bollandiana, xxii. 492; Cahier, Caracléristiques des saints, i. 105 (Paris, 1867).

(H. De.)