Lucy had dedicated her life and virginity to Christ, when she was promised to a pagan for marriage she refused and distributed her dowry to the poor. She was given over to magistrate Paschasius, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor's image. Lucy replied that she had given all that she had: "I offer to Him myself, let Him do with His offering as it pleases Him." Sentenced to be defiled in a brothel, Lucy asserted:
“No one's body is polluted so as to endanger the soul if it has not pleased the mind. If you were to lift my hand to your idol and so make me offer against my will, I would still be guiltless in the sight of the true God, who judges according to the will and knows all things. If now, against my will, you cause me to be polluted, a twofold purity will be gloriously imputed to me. You cannot bend my will to your purpose; whatever you do to my body, that cannot happen to me.”
The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away they found her so filled with the Holy Spirit that she was stiff and heavy as a mountain; they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Even with a dagger through her throat she prophesied against her persecutor. As final torture, her eyes were gouged out prior to her execution, yet miraculously she could still see.
In Sweden and elsewhere, the day is observed by having one of the daughters of the house dress in a white robe with a crown of lighted candles and go singing from room to room (presumably followed by an adult with a fire extinguisher) early in the morning when it is still dark to awaken the other family members and to offer them St. Lucy's Cakes and hot coffee.
Propers for Lucy of Syracuse - 13 December - Martyr
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Lucy with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - 2 Corinthians 10:17-11:2.
BRETHREN: he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22.
BEHOLD, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall he brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
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