Saint Agatha & Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia, are two Sicilians who are in the canon of the Mass
Saint Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint and virgin martyr. Her memorial is on 5 February. Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo, Sicily, and she was martyred in approximately 251.
Born: 231 AD, Catania, Italy
Died: 251 AD, Catania, Italy
Feast: February 5
Canonized: Pre-congregation by tradition confirmed by Gregory I
Buried: Catania Cathedral, Metropolitan City of Catania, Italy
Patronage: Breast cancer, Catania, Earthquake, Fire, Palermo, San Marino, Zamarramala, Spain, Baker, Nursing, Infertility
St. Agatha, also known as Agatha of Sicily, is one of the most highly venerated virgin martyrs of the Catholic Church. It is believed that she was born around 231 in either Catania or Palermo, Sicily to a rich and noble family.
From her very early years, the notably beautiful Agatha dedicated her life to God. She became a consecrated virgin, a state in life where young women choose to remain celibate and give themselves wholly to Jesus and the Church in a life of prayer and service. That did not stop men from desiring her and making unwanted advances toward her.
However, one of the men who desired Agatha, whose name was Quintianus, because he was of a high diplomatic ranking, thought he could force her to turn away from her vow and force her to marry. His persistent proposals were consistently spurned by Agatha, so Quintianus, knowing she was a Christian during the persecution of Decius, had her arrested and brought before the judge. He was the Judge.
He expected her to give in to his demands when she was faced with torture and possible death, but she simply reaffirmed her belief in God by praying: “Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil.” With tears falling from her eyes, she prayed for courage.
To force her to change her mind, Quintianus had her imprisoned – in a brothel. Agatha never lost her confidence in God, even though she suffered a month of assaults and efforts to get her to abandon her vow to God and go against her virtue. Quintianus heard of her calm strength and ordered that she be brought before him once again. During her interrogation, she told him that to be a servant of Jesus Christ was her true freedom.
Enraged, Quintianus sent her off to prison instead of back to the brothel — a move intended to make her even more afraid, but it was probably a great relief to her.
Agatha continued to proclaim Jesus as her Savior, Lord, Life and Hope. Quintianus ordered her to be tortured. He had her stretched on a rack to be torn with iron hooks, burned with torches, and whipped. Noticing Agatha was enduring all the torture with a sense of cheer, he commanded she be subjected to a worse form of torture ? this evil man ordered that her breasts be cut off.
He then sent her back to prison with an order of no food or medical attention. But the Lord gave her all the care she needed. He was her Sacred Physician and protector. Agatha had a vision of the apostle, St. Peter, who comforted her and healed her wounds through his prayers.
After four days, Quintianus ignored the miraculous cure of her wounds. He had her stripped naked and rolled over naked over hot coals which were mixed with sharp shards. When she was returned to prison, Agatha prayed, “Lord, my Creator, you have ever protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world, and given me patience to suffer: receive now my soul.”
Agatha is believed to have passed into Heaven around the year 251.
She is commonly featured in religious art with shears, tongs, or breasts on a plate.
St. Agatha is the patron saint of Sicily, bellfounders, breast cancer patients, Palermo, rape victims, and wet nurses. She is also considered to be a powerful intercessor when people suffer from fires. Her feast day is celebrated on February 5.
Saint Agatha, you suffered sexual assault and indignity because of your faith and purity. Help heal all those who are survivors of sexual assault and protect those women who are in danger. Amen
Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia
Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia, was a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. Wikipedia
Born: 283 AD, Syracuse, Sicily
Died: 304 AD, Syracuse,
Full name: Lucia of Syracuse
Feast: 13 December; 16 September (duplicate feast in pre-1970 General Roman Calendar);
Lucy’s history has been lost and all we really know for certain is that this brave woman who lived in Syracuse lost her life during the persecution of Christians in the early fourth century. Her veneration spread to Rome so that by the sixth century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.
Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy’s bravery, legends began to crop up. The one that has passed the test of time tells the story of a young Christian woman who vowed to live her life in service of Christ. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage for her with a pagan and Lucy knew her mother could not be swayed by a young girl’s vow, so she devised a plan to convince her mother that Christ was the better partner for life.
After several prayers at the tomb of Saint Agatha, Lucy saw the saint in a dream. St. Agatha told Lucy her mother’s illness would be cured through faith, which Lucy used to persuade her mother to give the dowry money to the poor and allow her to commit her life to God.
While Lucy and her mother were grateful to God, the rejected bridegroom was deeply angered and betrayed Lucy’s faith to the governor Paschasius. The governor attempted to force her into defilement at a brothel, but the guards who came to take her away were unable to move her, even after hitching her to a team of oxen.
The guards heaped bundles of wood around her but it wouldn’t burn so they finally resorted to their swords, and Lucy met her death.
Though details of her life remain unknown, it is widely known that during her lifetime Christians were persecuted for their faith. They were forced to endure horrific torture and often met painful ends during Diocletian’s reign. Though the details surrounding her death remain only as legends, it is all modern-day Christians can rely on.
Lucy’s legend did not end with her death. According to later accounts, Lucy warned Paschasius he would be punished. When the governor heard this he ordered the guards to gouge out her eyes; however, in another telling, it was Lucy who removed her eyes in an attempt to discourage a persistent suitor who greatly admired them.
When her body was being prepared for burial, they discovered her eyes had been restored.
Sigebert (1030-1112), a monk of Gembloux, wrote sermo de Sancta Lucia, in which he described Lucy’s body as remaining undisturbed in Sicily for 400 years until Faroald II, Duke of Spoleto, seized the island and transferred Lucy’s remains to Abruzzo, Italy. It was later removed by Emperor Otho I in 972 to Metz and left in the church of St. Vincent. There is much confusion about what happened to her body after its stay at St. Vincent’s, but it is believed that several pieces of her body can be found in Rome, Naples, Verona, Lisbon, Milan, Germany, France and Sweden.
In 1981, thieves stole all but her head but police were able to recover them on her feast day.
Lucy, whose name can mean “light” or “lucid,” is the patron saint of the blind. She is often seen with the emblem of eyes on a cup or plate. In paintings, she is often depicted with a golden plate holding her eyes and often holds a palm branch, which is a symbol of victory over evil.
Saint Lucy’s Prayer:
Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation — every corner of our day. Amen