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St. Lucia of Syracuse, Patron Saint of Eye Diseases and Writers

St. Lucia of Syracuse, also known as St. Lucy, is the patron saint of vision and the blind. Lucy, who had taken a vow of virginity, angered a man who had wished to marry her. He denounced her as a Christian to the Roman Emperor. Lucy was martyred after several attempts to make her give up her faith, including gouging out her eyes. Today, Saint Lucy is a source of hope for many who struggle with eye problems.

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St. Lucy was born into a pagan family in the third century A.D in Syracuse, a city in modern day Sicily. Lucy became a Christian while she was still a young girl. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a wealthy pagan, but this horrified the young girl. Lucy knew her mother could not be swayed by a young girl, so she devised a plan to convince her mother that she should not marry and should instead devote her life to Christ.

After several prayers at the tomb of the Christian saint Agatha, that night Lucy saw the saint in a dream. The saint told Lucy that her mother would fall sick and that the illness would be cured through the young girl’s faith. Lucy’s mother did fall sick and was subsequently cured by her daughter’s prayers. Lucy, after this, was able to persuade her mother to give her dowry money to the poor and to receive permission from her family to commit her life to God as a nun.

While Lucy and her mother were grateful to God, the rejected bridegroom was deeply angered, and denounced the young girl to the Roman governor. At this time, Christians were being persecuted throughout the Roman Empire. The Emperor Diocletian had decreed that all Christians had to renounce their faith or face death. The governor attempted to force Lucy into a brothel, as punishment for her faith. However, the guards who came to take her away were unable to move her, even after they tried to drag her away by hitching her to a team of horses. The soldiers were afraid of the governor, and persisted in trying to drag the girl away, but they failed. Enraged, they gouged her eyes out. Then they decided that they would have to kill the girl. The guards heaped wood around the young girl, but it wouldn't burn, so, enraged, they finally stabbed her with their swords. Lucy finally died.

When her body was being prepared for burial, they discovered that her eyes had been restored. St. Lucy’s body was interned at Catania, but was later removed to her native Syracuse. She has been revered as a saint for almost two thousand years. Because her eyes were restored, she has long been revered by those who are blind or have visual impairments.

In 1981, thieves stole all but her head, but police were able to recover them on her feast day.

The bravery and steadfastness of St. Lucy is a source of comfort to Catholics around the world, especially to those afflicted with blindness.