Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Festa di Santa Lucia a Siracusa

December 13 is the Feast day of Santa Lucia a Siracusa in Sicily. A famous Saint of the Christian Church this Santa Lucia. On her Feast Day her silver statue is processed through the streets of Siracusa in Sicily. She is represented holding in her hand a plate containing a pair of eyes, hers, the story goes that she plucked them out herself because being a Virgin a Roman suitor had said he was captivated by her eyes. Santa Lucia is the Patron Saint of Sight and a little sweet pastry is made to look like a pair of eyes, it is called Gli Occhi di Santa Lucia, it is a sort of Biscotti.

Lucia a Christian Virgin, a concept not well understood in ancient Rome, was condemned to work as a prostitute in a brothel. She refused and was stabbed in the throat by her captors. This is why her statue shows her with a dagger in her throat.

Santa Lucia in a museum in Palermo, statue is made of papier maché and painted cork wood.

The silver statue of Santa Lucia from the Cathedral of Siracusa in Sicily being paraded in the streets of the City on 13 December.

She is also the Saint who provides food for the hungry and many miracles through out the ages are attributed to her, such as the one of 1582 in Siracusa when a boat filled with wheat appeared in the Port of the City during a great famine.

Great bonfires are lighted in Sicily on the 13 December in her honour and a dessert called Cuccia to rhyme with Lucia is made. It is composed of whole wheat berries cooked in water mixed in with sweetened ricotta and decorated with candied orange bits and shavings of chocolate.

The name ''Santa Lucia'' is famous for a different reason in Italy -as a traditional Neapolitan song written in praise of the picturesque waterfront district, Borgo Santa Lucia on the Bay of Naples. In 1849 Santa Lucia became the first Neapolitan song to the given Italian lyrics and sung as a barcarola (gondolier's song) in the early stages of the Risorgimento, the fight for the Unification of Italy.

Here is the celebrated and famous Enrico Caruso singing the song, he made famous, Santa Lucia from a recording of March 1916.


  1. There's really "two" St. Lucia's whose feast day is Dec 13 -- the Sicilian one that you write about here, and the Scandinavian one who is really just a Christianized version of the pagan Goddess of the Winter Solstice. I do a post about her every December 13th.

  2. It is apparently the same woman, she took Easy Jet to Sweden and brought food so goes the legend.

  3. These early female saints are always doing things to prevent themselves from losing their virginity. I never warmed up to this notion; they don't strike me as noble but pompous. Then again I would hardly qualify for a saint.

    1. The virginity debate is central to the advancement of the Judeo-Christian dogma in the fourth century, it is in opposition to the Pagan beliefs. Sexual education in ancient Rome was very much in the open and part of everyday life, however the Jews and Christians in Rome opposed such beliefs. I would say they still do to this day.

  4. I love it that 'Santa Lucia' is so beloved of the Swedes - it always sounds deliciously incongruous to hear it sung by sweet Nordic choristers...