13 December 2005

Tradition and Legend

St. Lucy, whom the Church commemorates today, is perhaps best know as the patron saint of those whose eyes are in need of healing. She is often pictured holding her eyes in her hand or, in this case, in a dish. In her other hand, in this image, is the palm of martyrdom which she suffered during the reign of Diocletian.

The account of her martyrdom is one shrouded in uncertainty and sustained by popular legend -- most likely the oral tradition of the early Christians in Sicily. It is tempting to dismiss such an account as a story or a tale, too fanciful to be true. While it is true that on this side of eternity we shall not ever know the true story behind many such legends, we still stand to profit from these accounts. For each account of a martyr -- documented or speculated -- is an account not only of the martyr's faith, but of the faith of the Christian community as a whole. If St. Lucy, at an early age, did promise to consecrate herself to the Lord, it speaks volumes about the culture in which she lived and the faith of those who surrounded her.

This begs the question, for all of us: How do our lives reflect the Christian communities of which we are a part? St. Lucy, whose name means "light" inspired devotion for centuries after her death; she was a light in the darkness of persecution. This Advent, amid the hustle and bustle and busyness, let us be witnesses to something bigger and brighter. Let us, by our actions and our words -- in simple ways -- point toward the Light which is coming.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely account of St. Lucy! She's one of my favorites Apparently in Sweden the "light" theme has led to the practice of young girls wearing wreaths with lighted candles in their hair to celebrate St. Lucy's feastday.