Feast Day December 13th
Santa Lucia was born around the year 300 A.D. to a wealthy Sicilian family. Although her father died when she was a baby, he left plenty of money for Lucia and her mother to be cared for. As she grew Lucia learned of the Lord and was raised in the Christian faith. She made a secret vow never to marry but instead to spend her life serving the poor. Her mother was unaware of this secret vow, and pressed her to marry a man who was a pagan, who believed in many gods, not just one God. Although she resisted, Lucia became engaged to this man.
Around that time, her mother suffered from unexplained bleeding, and Lucia persuaded her to go to the tomb of St. Agatha and pray. Miraculously, her mother was healed. After this, Lucia told her mother of her vow never to marry, and persuaded her mother that in gratitude to God they should give away their wealth to the poor people of the city. So, by candlelight, the mother and daughter went about the city secretly ministering to the poor. Some even said she would bring food to the poor people living in caves, and that because she needed both hands to carry the food, she strapped candles to her head.
As a result of her vow, the young man she had been engaged to was furious. Not only did he lose the opportunity of having the beautiful Lucia as his wife, he also missed out on the great amount of money that would have been her dowry and that he would have received in the event of their marriage. So angry was he that he went to the governor and accused her of both being a Christian, and aiding other Christians. At that time, it was illegal to be a Christian, or to help Christians. Lucia was called before a judge and given the chance to renounce her faith, but she refused. He asked her one more time if she would recant, but again Lucia refused.
The judge ordered her to be taken away and executed, but the soldiers who came to drag her away could not budge her. Instead, they put wood around her and laid a fire beneath her, but the fire would not light. Finally, the judge called forth one of the soldiers and told him to kill her with his sword, which he did.
Many years later, Sweden was in the grip of a terrible famine. At the height of that dark, icy winter, hunger and suffering were at their worst. People were reduced to grinding tree bark to bake into bitter bread. But on the long night of Santa Lucia Day a brilliantly lit ship came sailing across the storm waters of Lake Vannern. At the helm stood a beautiful young woman dressed all in white, with a face so radiant that there was a glow of light all bout her head. As the vessel touched shore, great quantities of food and clothing appeared with her for the starving. When asked her name, she simply replied “Lucia”. When all were fed and cared for, the vessel disappeared as quickly as it had come. To this day, the people of Sweden celebrate the remembrance of Lucia, and how she came to save the people of their country.