Vita Gazette

News from Italy

December 13: St. Lucy

Ayfer Selamoğlu- There is hardly anyone who comes to Venice and does not listen to the old Neapolitan song St. Lucy in the long, black and decorated gondolas used by gondoliers in striped shirts. Although it is identified with Venice, the song belongs to the sailors of Naples. In 1850 Teodoro Cottrau composed it. Many artists, from Italian tenor Enrico Caruzo to Andre Bocelli, sang the world-famous song, which relaxes people like listening to this lullaby. The song features a sailor sailing his boat at night in quaint Naples. The moonlight has come out. A silver light illuminates the boat and the road. The light of the moon is the light of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of Syracuse, the blind and the poor…

Legend has it that the story of St. Lucy takes place in Syracuse, Sicily, in the fourth century. It was a time when Christianity was forbidden. Persecution, torture and death sentences are common for adherents of this religion. In such an oppressive time, Lucia was born into a noble family. She and her character are both beautiful. She has bright blue eyes that mesmerize those who see him.

Legend has it that Lucia lost her father when she was very young. Her mother, Eutychia, raised her alone. Lucia embraced Christianity when she grew up. When it was time to get married, a wealthy nobleman asked her mother for Lucia. Her mother is warm to this marriage, but Lucia, who dedicates herself to God and prefers to remain a virgin, does not want it. Her mother insists, Lucia refuses. Falling in love with Lucia’s blue eyes, the boy said, “I can’t live without seeing them.” Unable to withstand her mother’s insistent pressures, Lucia had her eyes gouged out one day and sent it to the young man. This courageous act of the Christian Lucia touched God very much and gave her back her eyes. The eyes seen in her hand or on a plate in the paintings of Santa Lucia, depicted in the Renaissance period, are attributed to this legend.

According to another common legend, Lucia is a modest young girl and got engaged at her mother’s will. However, one day she learns that her mother has a serious illness. She visits the tomb of Sant’Agata in Catania to find a cure for her mother’s problem. There she falls asleep. And she dreams of Sant’Agatha who tells Lucia that if she wants to see her mother healthy, she must help the poor, the children. When she returns home, finds his mother miraculously cured. After that, Lucia decides to devote her life to the messiah. She donates his wealth to charities. And she breaks up with her fiancee, who accuses her of being a Christian. However, this decision causes the anger of her fiancee. He reports Lucia to the Roman authorities. At that time, the great persecution of Emperor Diocletian was taking place. The young girl is arrested. During the trial, she explains her belief. Thereupon, Lucia is sentenced to be sent to a brothel. But her body has become so heavy that the soldiers are unable to carry her away. Then they sentence him to the stake. But the flames do not touch Lucia. In the end, her head is cut off. And her eyes are gouged out. But before Lucia dies, she explains that the oppressive Diocletian will die soon and that all her persecution of Christians will end as soon as possible. Legend has it that the Saint of Syracuse was only 22 years old when she chose to become a martyr rather than deny her Christian religion. Year M.S. It was 304…

Long before St. Lucy,  people in Scandinavia thought the longest night of the year was December 13. Therefore, they started to celebrate that day as the feast of Santa Lucia, referring to Lucia, which means light in Latin. Last night, the Santa Lucia feast illuminated the capital Rome as the light of both nature and legends. In the historical center of the capital, Piazza di Pietra, in front of the fascinating ancient columns of the Temple of Hadrian, Swedish youth, dressed in white from head to toe, celebrated the day of light with the Italians. All the blond blue-eyed girls wore red belts that symbolized chastity. On their heads were crowns of olive branches, symbolizing peace and victory. And they were dancing around one of them and singing Santa Lucia. That girl was Santa Lucia, with candles attached to the olive branch on her head. 

And the children! According to a very deep-rooted tradition in Italy, Lucy brings the gifts that children expect with a flying donkey. Therefore, a plate with straw, milk and carrots is left on the table for both St. Lucy and the donkey before they go to bed. The children write a letter for their Christmas present, then go to bed. If they are good children who listen to their families, St. Lucy will leave them gifts of toys and sweets. If there is nothing under the tree when they wake up, it means they are not good enough to receive gifts. That’s why children wait for her before Santa Claus. But in Syracuse, where St. Lucy is the patron saint, this special day is celebrated with the preparation of the classic Sicilian arancini, which will be dedicated to the patron saint of the eyes… 

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