Celebrate Saint Lucia Day, go light your little sister’s hair on fire! Haha, just kidding… sort of.
Saint Lucia (or Lucy, in English) was a martyr of the Early Church who died in the year 304 during a particularly nasty round of persecution under Emperor Diocletian. Lucia was betrothed by her mother to be married to a man of some esteem, but Lucia had already pledged herself to virginity and was already beginning to give of her late father’s possessions to the poor. Discovery of this cause her husband-to-be to scorn her and turn her over to the authorities. As the story goes, she was sentenced to be defiled in a whorehouse but the soldiers and oxen couldn’t make the cart carrying her to move, and when she was sentenced to be burned to death instead the fire wouldn’t touch her, so the Emperor stabbed her instead.
The candles-on-the-head thing derives from a story that when she carried food to Christians hiding in the catacombs, she wore a wreath with candles on her head so she could carry more food in both hands. Whether either this or her martyrdom story are accurate reports of history is beyond our ability to know. But the piety, acts of service, and devotion to Christ displayed in her life are inspirational stories that have endeared Christians the world over, ever since. Check out the devotion her story can inspire:
Saint Lucia Day, December 13th, is not just any old commemoration in the ACNA calendar. It also happens to be the anchor date that defines the Advent Ember Days. You’ll hear more about those next week, but suffice it to note now that the Advent (or Winter) Ember Days are always the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday soonest after St. Lucia Day. In this year’s case, we’ve got almost a whole week left before the Ember Days begin.