Lucy didn’t get married. She didn’t have a job, she didn’t go to school, and she didn’t do anything particularly remarkable. She lived a completely ordinary if somewhat privileged life in Syracuse, on the island of Sicily, and died at the age of 21 at the hands of Roman soldiers.
Lucy had chosen not to get married, both so she could work for the Lord as a single person, and so she could give away her dowry to the poor people in her church. But Lucy’s mother Euthychia, a widow and suffering a chronic bleeding condition, worried what would happen to them without a man in the house. She arranged for Lucy to be married to a wealthy pagan.
Lucy went ahead and gave away her dowry anyway. When her fiance heard what she had done he was furious. At that time, in the early 300s, the Church was suffering its greatest persecution by Rome. The Emperor Diocletian, feeling threatened by the growing Church, passed laws compelling Christians to worship the image of the Emperor. Thousands of Christians would die for refusing to bow down another lord.
Lucy’s fiance knew what to do. He went to the local Roman governor and denounced her for a Christian. The governor ordered her to worship the Emperor’s image, and when she refused, he sentenced her to be put in a brothel. Soldiers came to escort her away, but she resisted, and they hacked her to death with their swords.
Lucy’s short life was unremarkable, but for her gifts to the poor of Syracuse, and for her faithfulness to Christ when faced with the power of Rome, she is remembered as a saint. Lucy did the small things she knew Jesus wanted her to do, and she now sits with him in glory.
QUOTE TO REMEMBER (AND IMPRESS FRIENDS WITH)
When Lucy’s mother suggested she leave her money as a bequest, she replied:
Whatever you give away at death for the Lord’s sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Saviour, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death.
The Church remembers St Lucy on 13 December each year, the day in 304 when she died. Over 1,300 years later, On St Lucy’s Day 1617, John Donne wrote this poem reflecting on how short life is, and how it’s never too early to start living faithfully.