Caravaggio Captured Lucia’s Light


At the dawn of the 4th century, practicing Christianity in the Roman-ruled city of Siracusa was illegal. Already though, inspired by nearby Catania’s Patron Saint, Sant’Agatha, who lived just a few decades before (from 231 AD – 251 AD), the young and beautiful Lucia devoted herself to Christianity. In fact, she was known to enter the dark catacombs of the city to feed hungry early Christians–lighting her way through the tunnels with a torch. Lucia was so dedicated to Christ that she planned to give her dowry to the poor, yet her widowed and sick mother had already arranged for Lucia to be married to a wealthy pagan.

When the young man heard of Lucia’s wish to distribute her dowry in the name of Christianity, in retaliation, he contacted authorities, who sentenced Lucia to work in a brothel. This is where the story gets interesting: Lucia was immovable! The Roman governor’s Oxen couldn’t take her away, a fire couldn’t be started to burn her to death at the place she firmly stood! The only punishment with which the frustrated Romans found success was gouging out her eyes (by one legend’s tale), and finally, by stabbing her to death.

This image is a photograph that barely captures part of the magnificent painting titled “Seppellimento di Santa Lucia,” or “Burial of Saint Lucia.” The oil on canvas was painted by the master Caravaggio in 1608 and may be viewed in person over the altar at the Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia on Piazza del Duomo in Ortigia, Siracusa. Note the virgin martyr lying in a pool of her blood from the wound on her neck. Caravaggio wanted to show her blood as fertilizing the earth.

Please join us on Sunday, 12/13 at Eolo in New York City to celebrate the Feast of Santa Lucia.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Life for women has been really tough – for centuries. I honestly didn’t know it was that bad. Poor Lucia! But she stood her ground. <3

    1. Oh, yes, she did. And she wasn’t 20 yet! Well-behaved women rarely make history. All the more reason for you not to listen to what they’re telling *you!*

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