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The Church honors only a handful of saints during the short season of Advent, and St. Lucy stands-out as a perfect fit.
Born in the 3rd century, at an early age Lucy dedicated her virginity to Christ, but her mother was not aware of it and arranged to have her married.
Lucy refused because of her private vow and the man she was supposed to marry turned her in to persecutors as a Christian. This led to a gruesome martyrdom, where her eyes were gouged out prior to being killed.
Devotion to her spread rapidly throughout Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, where many traditions continue to be celebrated in her honor to this day.
One of the main reasons why her feast makes a perfect Advent feast is because of her name, Lucy, which means, “light.”
A light in the darkness
Dom Prosper Guéranger reflects on her name in a prayer he composed in his Liturgical Year:
Take us under thy powerful patronage. Thy name signifies Light, guide us through the dark night of this life. O fair Light of Virginity, enlighten us, evil concupiscence has wounded our eyes. Pray for us, O thou bright Light of Virginity, that our blindness be healed and that rising above created things, we may be able to see that true Light which shineth in darkness but which darkness cannot comprehend.
This symbolism of a light in the darkness is very fitting during Advent, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, at a time of the year when the days grow shorter and shorter.
Candles also play a large part in many Advent traditions, including the Advent wreath, and in many customs celebrated in honor of St. Lucy.
Guéranger goes on to connect this symbolism with the celebration of Christmas:
Pray for us that our eyes may be purified and may see in the Child, who is to be born at Bethlehem, the new Man, the second Adam, the model on which the life of our regeneration must be formed.
As we go forward in Advent, may we take St. Lucy as a guide during this beautiful season of preparation.