Saint Lucy (feast day December 13th), also known as Saint Lucia, is the saint of blindness and light. Lucia is derived from the Latin word lux, meaning light. Saint Lucia of Syracuse was a 4th century martyr. According to legend, Lucia brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs. She wore a candlelit wreath on her head to light the way in the dark, allowing her hands free to carry as much food as possible. Little facts are known of her life, but her representation of light shines bright through history to this day. In many countries, especially Scandinavia, her feast day is celebrated with a Festival of Light.
Back home in Minnesota, we celebrate Saint Lucia during the Advent Season. Many Scandinavian immigrants planted roots in the Midwest area of the country and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is composed of many Scandinavian congregations. In my home church, we commemorate Saint Lucia with special worship.
During the worship, a young girl is dressed in a white gown with a red sash and wears a crown of candles on her head. During the procession she carries a basket of treats. She is followed by other young girls in white gowns holding candles, known as Lucia’s maidens. The worship is filled with singing and people sharing their musical gifts. This festival is an event signalling the arrival of Jesus, the light of the world. Saint Lucia’s feast day is near the winter solstice; during the darkest time in the year, we celebrate the light to come.
During the Advent season, we prepare for the birth of Jesus. Preparing for his arrival comes in many forms – carol services, Rorate Mass, Posada, advent calendars and wreaths. The Saint Lucia Festival of Lights and these festivals and events connect us and bring us together as congregation and community. They allow us to create spaces of hope, joy, peace, and love. We journey together through the Advent season. We journey together in the darkness. We journey together in the light.