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Lucy, Saint

according sixth legend tortured

Veneration of the Sicilian virgin martyr Lucy (d. c.304) dates to the early Christian period. Legends of her life, composed in the fifth and sixth centuries, describe her as a wealthy woman who gave away her money to the poor, who refused offers of marriage, and who was turned in to the Roman authorities who tortured her and eventually killed her by stabbing her in the throat with a sword. According to the sixth-century legend, she plucked out her own eyes in order to avoid marriage, or, according to another version, she was blinded while being tortured under the orders of the emperor Diocletian. Various other sufferings endured by Lucy include (according to the * Golden Legend ) being drenched with urine, burned, and covered with boiling oil after an unsuccessful attempt to drag her (with hands and feet bound) to a brothel, but neither one thousand men nor one thousand oxen could budge her. This source also recounts that she continued to speak after she was stabbed in the throat. Earlier, Lucy’s prayers to Saint *Agatha had healed Lucy’s mother of a prolonged illness; Agatha appeared to Lucy in a vision alerting Lucy of her forthcoming *martyrdom. She is found in art as early as the sixth century and by the later medieval period is generally recognizable through attributes derived from specific aspects of her legend, for example, her two eyes, which she may hold in her hand or display on a platter or rod, and the sword of her martyrdom. She is often also shown with a lamp or candle (her name derives from lux , Latin for “light”).
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