The Latin word for “light” is LUX, as when Our Lord says, “Ego sum lux mundi”: I am the light of the world. And today, we celebrate one of the famous virgin-martyrs of the early Church, Saint Lucy, whose name comes from the noun LUX. Because of the long, dark winters in Scandinavia, it became customary in that part of the world to celebrate this feast of Saint Lucy, the saint of the light, by having young girls come to Saint Lucy’s Day parties wearing on their heads a wreath which held the four Advent candles, lighted very carefully to avoid burning their hair or dropping melted wax into it. This tradition has continued even after the Reformation and is still going on to some degree.
The real Saint Lucy was born in the Sicilian city of Syracuse, and gladly laid down her life in defense of her faith in Christ and of her virginity, which meant nothing to most of the pagans of the Roman Empire, but a great deal to the Christians. Because of her heroic death, her name was inserted into the Canon, or Eucharistic Prayer, of the Mass, and remains in the first eucharistic prayer of the Mass to this day.
During the middle ages, when many of the relics and remains of the saints were in danger of falling into the hands of the Moors, her body was sent from Syracuse to Venice, where it remains to this day in the church just beside the railroad station. Venice welcomed its new saint with a deep devotion to her, and one of the most famous of all the Venetian songs sung by the gondoliers while propelling their boats through the canals of the city is called “Santa Lucia”—Saint Lucy.
We are just about a week away from the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, after which the days begin to lengthen again, and we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Divine Lord, “the Light of the World,” who is to our world of holiness, wisdom and knowledge what the sun is to our solar system. As one candle touched to a burning one catches its fire and begins to burn, so let us do our best to touch our own lives to that of Jesus our Savior and catch his fire of the love of God and humankind. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.