Dec. 13th - Feast Day of St. Lucy "Santa Lucia"

Dec. 13th - Feast Day of St. Lucy "Santa Lucia"

December 13th is the Feast Day of Saint Lucy of Syracuse who is also known to us as "Santa Lucia".  Santa Lucia Day is celebrated in most Scandinavian countries (especially in Sweden) and she is remembered today in many Lutheran congregations that have their roots in Scandinavia.

St. Lucy was born in Syracuse in the third century.  She was a Christian but was also betrothed to be married.  However, Lucy believed that to truly follow Christ she needed to sell her possessions and give them to the poor.  So Lucy disposed of what was to be her wedding dowry, giving all she had to the poor and the needy of Syracuse.  Unfortunately this action enraged her fiance' and in an act of vengeance he revealed to authorities that she was a Christian.

 There are differing versions of what happened next, but St. Lucy was arrested and asked if she was a Christian.  She confessed that she would and she would not turn from or recant her faith.  Subsequently the stories vary on how the Roman soldiers tried to execute her.  One version is that they tried to burn her at the stake but she would not burn.  Another is that after several different attempts to kill St. Lucy, her own fiance' pulled a sword in a fit of rage and stabbed her through the throat killing her.  At her death, it is said that she was filled with a heavenly light so bright that it dwarfed the light of the sun and caused those gathered around her to fall to the ground.

So St. Lucy is seen as a symbol of one whose devotion to Christ would not falter, and who testified to this commitment to Jesus with her life.

The question then for us is, How does as 3rd century Italian saint make her way to Sweden and Norway? Santa Lucia, is often known as the Light Bringer.  There is the association with the divine light that filled her at her death, and if you consider the amount of darkness that the northern countries experience in the Winter, one can understand the attraction of this saint of Light.

The story was told to me by a Swedish Grandmother that there was once a time in Sweden when the people were starving.  Winter had grown long and the people waited in darkness.  Then on the 13th of December the people saw a light coming across the waters.  When it arrived there was a great ship filled with food, and standing in the prow of the boat was a beautiful lady who was filled with light.  She wore a white robe and a red sash.  It was Santa Lucia who came with food and comfort for the people of the cold northern lands.

Since that day, on the 13th of December, it is said that you can see the lady in the white robe who is bearing the light wandering along the shores of the lakes of Sweden, bringing light and hope to the people.Admittedly the lady who told me this story had never seen the wandering saint on dark December mornings.

But in commemoration of St. Lucy, on December 13th in Sweden and in homes who have those roots, the oldest daughter will rise early in the morning.  She will dress as Santa Lucia.  She wears a white robe in remembrance of her and our baptisms.  Around her waist there is a red sash which reminds us of martyrdom.  On her head she wears crown which has candles reminding us of the light of Santa Lucia.  (The brave use real candles, but many times electric candles are used).  Tradition is that this young girl dressed as Santa Lucia goes to all the rooms of the house bringing sweets and sticky buns to the family to remind people of both light and the gifts which come to us through following our Lord.

The commemoration of St. Lucy is part of the pre-Christmas season for many people.  What it hopes to do is remind us that the light of Christ is present in this world.  That Christ comes to us in many ways.  St. Lucy was one who witnessed to her devotion to Christ with her very life.  It is also believed that God used this same saint, somehow wrapped in the mystery of God - to bring hope to people far away from where she originally lived and walked in this world.  Santa Lucia - is a reminder to us from God that his light and his love is always active and moving in this world.  That God is reaching out to people even in to the (literally) darkest places of the world, and there is nowhere that God will not continue to shine his light into the darkness of this world and into the darkness of our lives. 

St. Lucy reminds us that God is our hope.  That God is the one who can fill the darkness, that God is with us. As we approach the celebration of Christmas, we await the commemoration of that time when God sent the true light into the world.  When light and life became flesh, and God became incarnate among us in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

 

 

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