December 13 Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr: From The Liturgical Year of Dom Prosper Gueranger.
There comes to us today the fourth of our Wise Virgins, the valiant Martyr Lucy. Her glorious name shines on the sacred Dyptich of the Canon of the Mass together with those of Agatha, Agnes, and Cecily; and as often as we hear it pronounced during these days of Advent, it reminds us (for Lucy signifies Light) that He who consoles the Church, by enlightening her children, is soon to be with us. Lucy is one of the three glories of the Church of Sicily; as Catania is immortalized by Agatha, and Palermo by Rosaly, so is Syracuse by Lucy. Therefore, let us devoutly keep her feast: she will aid us by her prayers during this holy season, and will repay our love by obtaining for us a warmer love of that Jesus Whose grace enabled her to conquer the world. Once more let us consider why our Lord has not only given us Apostles, Martyrs and Bishops as guides to us on our road to Bethlehem, but has willed also that we should be accompanied thither by such Virgins as Lucy. The children of the Church are forcibly reminded by this, that in approaching the Crib of their Sovereign Lord and God, they must bring with them, besides their faith, that purity of mind and body without which no one can come near to God. Let us now read the glorious Acts of the Virgin Lucy.
Lucia, Virgo Syracusans, genere et Christiana fide ab infantia nobilis, una cum matre Eutychia, quæ sanguinis fluxu laborabat, Catanam ad venerandum corpus beatæ Agathæ venit Quæ ad ejus sepulchrum quum suppliciter orasset, Agathæ intercessione, matris sanitatem impetravit. Statim vero matrem exoravit, ut quam dotem sibi datura esset, Christi pauperibus tribui pateretur. Ut igitur Syracusas rediit, omnem pecuniam, quam ex facultatibus venditis redegerat, pauperibus distribuit.
Lucy, a Virgin of Syracuse, illustrious by birth and by the Christian faith, which she had professed from her infancy, went to Catania, with her mother Eutychia, who was suffering from a flux of blood, there to venerate the body of the blessed Agatha. Having prayed fervently at the tomb, she obtained her mother’s cure by the intercession of Agatha. Lucy then asked her mother that she would permit her to bestow upon the poor of Christ the fortune which she intended to leave her. No sooner, therefore, had she returned to Syracuse, than she sold all that was given to her, and distributed the money amongst the poor.
Quod ubi rescivisset is, cui eam parentes contra Virginis volutatem desponderaut, apud Paschasium præfectum, Luciam, quod Christiana esset, accusait. Quam ille cum nec precibus, nec minis ad cultum idolorum posset perducere; immo tanto magis incensam videret ad celebradas christianæ fidei laudes, quanto magis ipse eam a sententia avertere conabatur: Cessabunt, inquit, verba, quum ventum erit ab verbera. Cui Virgo: Dei servis verba desse non possunt, quibus a Christo Domino dictum est: Quum steteritis ante reges et præsides, nolite cogitare qumodo aud quid loquamini; dabitur enim vobis in illa hora quid loquamini; non enim vos estis qui loquimini, sed Spiritus Sanctus qui loquitur in vobis.
When he to whom her parents had, against her will, promised her in marriage, came to know what Lucy had done, he went before the Prefect in Paschasius, and accused her of being a Christian. Paschasius entreated and threatened, but could not induce her to worship the idols; nay, the more he strove to shake her faith, the more inflamed were the praises which she uttered in professing its excellence. He said, therefore, to her: We shall have no more of thy words, when thou feelest the blows of my executioners. To this the Virgin replied: Words can never be wanting to God’s servants, for Christ our Lord has said to them: When you shall be brought before kings and governors, take no thought how or what to speak; for it shall be given to you in that hour what to speak; for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit that speaketh in you.
Quam quum Paschasius interrogasset: Estne in te Spiritus Sanctus? Respondit: Caste it pie viventes templum sunt Spiritus Sancti. At ille: Jubebo te ad lupanar duci, ut te Spiritus Sanctus deserat. Cui Virgo: Si invitam jusseris violari, castitas mihi duplicabitur ad coronam. Quare Paschasius ira inflammatus Luciam eo trahi jussit, ubi ejus virginitas violaretur: sed divinitus factum est, ut firma Virgo ita consisteret, ut nulla vi de loco dimoveri posset. Quamobrem Præfectus circum ipsam pice, resina, ac ferventi oleo perfusam, ignem accendi imperavit; sed quum ne flamma quidem eam læderet, multis tormentis excruciate guttur gladio transfigitur. Quo vulnere accepto, Lucia prædicens Ecclesiæ tranquillitatem, quæ futura erat Diocletiano et Maximiano mortuis, Idibus Decembris, spiritum Deo reddidit. Cujus corpus Syracusis sepultum, deinde Constantinopoli, postremo Venetias translatum est.
Paschasius then asked her: Is the Holy Spirit in thee? She answered: They who live chastely and piously, are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He said: I will order thee to be taken to a brothel, that this Holy Spirit may leave thee. The Virgin said to him: The violence wherewith thou threatenest me would obtain for me a double crown of chastity. Whereupon Paschasius being exceeding angry, ordered Lucy to be dragged to a place where her treasure might be violated; but, by the power of God, so firmly was she fixed to the place where she stood, that it was impossible to move her. Wherefore the Prefect ordered her to be covered over with pitch, resin, and boiling oil, and a fire to be kindled round her. But seeing that the flame was not permitted to hurt her, they tormented her in many cruel ways, and at length ran a sword through her neck. Thus wounded, Lucy foretold the peace of the Church, which would come after the deaths of Dioclesian and Maximian, and then died. It was the Ides of December (Dec. 13). Her body was buried at Syracuse, but was translated thence first to Constantinople, and afterwards to Venice.
We here give some of the Antiphons which occur in the Office of the Saint: they form a lyric poem of great beauty.
Orante sancta Lucia, apparuit ei beata Agatha, et consolabatur ancillam Christi.
As Lucy was praying, there appeared unto her the blessed Agatha, and she comforted the handmaid of Christ.
Lucia Virgo, quid a me petis, quod ipsa poteris præstare continuo matri tuæ?
O Virgin Lucy! why askest thou of me, what thyself canst straightways grant unto thy mother?
Per te, Lucia Virgo, civitas Syracusana decorabitur a Domino Jesu Christo.
Because of thee, O Virgin Lucy! the city of Syracuse shall be honored by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Benedico te, Pater Domini mei Jesu Christi, quia per Filium tuum ignis exstinctus est a latere meo.
Words of Lucy: I bless Thee, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, because by Thy Son the fire was quenched that was around me.
In tua patientia possedisti animam tuam, Lucia, sponsa Christi: odisti quæ in mundo sunt, et coruscas cum angelis: sanguine proprio inimicum vicisti.
In thy patience thou didst possess thy soul, O Lucy, Spouse of Christ! thou didst hate the things that are in the world, and thou shinest among the Angels. Thou didst conquer the enemy by thine own blood.
We present ourselves before thee, O Virgin Martyr, beseeching thee to obtain for us that we may recognize in His lowliness that same Jesus Whom thou now seest in His glory. Take us under thy powerful patronage. Thy name signifies Light; guide us through the dark night of this life. O fair Light of Virginity! enlighten us; evil concupiscence has wounded our eyes: pray for us, O thou bright Light of Virginity! that our blindness be healed, and that rising above created things, we may be able to see that true Light, which shineth in darkness, but which darkness cannot comprehend. Pray for us, that our eye may be purified, and may see, in the Child Who is to be born at Bethlehem, the new Man, the second Adam, the model on which the life of our regeneration must be formed. Pray, too, O holy Virgin, for the Church of Rome and for all those which adopt her form of the Holy Sacrifice; for they daily pronounce at the Altar of God thy sweet name, and the Lamb, Who is present, loves to hear it. Heap thy choicest blessings on the fair Isle, which was thy native land, and where grew the palm of thy martyrdom. May thy intercession secure to her inhabitants firmness of faith, purity of morals, and temporal prosperity, and deliver them from the disorders which threaten her with destruction.