St. Lucia: A Sicilian Saint Celebrated in Scandinavia

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

There is a group of Norwegian students who study at Saint Paul Lutheran High School in Concordia.  December 13 is the date on the calendar that they associate most with memories of home.  For on this date, the church commemorates Saint Lucia, a Christian martyr from Syracuse, Italy, who died for the faith in 304 A.D.  What does a woman from Sicily have to do with Scandinavians?  Since 1927, communities throughout Scandinavia have included Saint Lucia processions on December 13.  This is because of the legend that Lucia coming to the aid of other Christians who were hiding in the catacombs of Syracuse on account of their faith.  She came with a wreath of candles on her head to guide her through the darkness as she brought food to those in need.  Since the early part of the Twentieth Century, Scandinavians have observed this festival as a source of celebration and hope in the midst of the short days of light during this time of year.  The celebrations include food and drink, but the chief part is the procession, led by a young girl portraying Saint Lucia, with a wreath of candles on her head.

We actually know very little about Saint Lucia.  A church was built outside the city gates of Syracuse on what is said to be the location of her death.  Renaissance painter Caravaggio’s The Burial of St. Lucia is located in the church.  But really, all that we know are legends and lore.  As noted about Saint Nicholas last week, the saints serve as witnesses for us to encourage us in our walk of faith.  Lucia, like so many forgotten saints throughout the centuries was a model to others of faith in Christ and love for the neighbor.

Through faith in Christ, we, too, are saints, holy ones of God.  Though our names may be forgotten by most, they are written in the book of life.  For those who do know and remember us, our prayer is that God would use us to be witnesses to remind others of the grace and mercy of God.  May we reflect the light of Christ into the darkness of sin and unbelief that others may see Jesus.

Prayer - O Almighty God, by whose grace and power Your holy servant Lucia triumphed over suffering and remained ever faithful unto death, grant us, who now remember her with thanksgiving, to be so true in our witness to You in this world that we may receive with her new eyes without tears and the crown of light and life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan


Comments are closed.