on the feast of Saint Lucy

She rejected a man and he had her killed. The year was 304. She was twenty years old. This is all we know.

This is all we know, but there are stories. He was her mother’s choice; they needed the money. She fled to the tomb of another girl who had been killed for rejecting a man. She promised her: hold fast, we are the righteous ones. When he handed her over to the governor, he denounced her faith. Nobody was fooled. It wasn’t her faith that offended them, or she wouldn’t have been sentenced to a brothel. The legends are perfectly straightforward.

She said: The words of God may not end ne finish.

Paschasius said: How then! art thou God?

She said: I am the handmaid of God, and for so much as I say, they be the words of God, for he saith: Ye be not they that speak tofore the princes and judges, but the Holy Ghost speaketh in you.

Paschasius said: And therefore the Holy Ghost is in thee?

She said: The apostle saith that they be the temple of God that live chastely, and the Holy Ghost dwelleth in them.

Paschasius said: I shall do bring thee to the bordel, where thou shalt lose thy chastity, and then the Holy Ghost shall depart from thee.

She said: The body may take no corruption but if the heart and will give thereto assenting: for if thou madest me to do sacrifice by my hands, by force, to the idols, against my will, God shall take it only but as a derision, for he judgeth only of the will and consenting. And therefore, if thou make my body to be defouled without mine assent, and against my will, my chastity shall increase double to the merit of the crown of glory. What thing that thou dost to the body, which is in thy power, that beareth no prejudice to the handmaid of Jesu Christ.

They intended to rape her, but she couldn’t be moved. They tried to burn her, but she couldn’t be set alight. It was the sword that gave her eternal life. But these are stories. All we know is that she rejected a man and he had her killed, and it was 304, and we built our church on her blood.

The men who hated these women were defeated. Their empire fell. We don’t speak their names. We don’t even know most of them. But Lucia, and the girl who went before her, Agatha—we speak their names together as God makes himself manifest upon all the altars of the world.

Never let them forget it. Ours is a faith of abused girls triumphant and God is our avenger.

Happy feast of Saint Lucia, my patron and yours.

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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