Travel shots: Eyes and Knives

There’s a knife sticking out of her neck. If she turned more toward us, you’d see she is serving up a dish of her own eyes on that little plate. This isn’t Dia de los Muertos, or All Hallow’s Eve. Quite the opposite. It’s a bright day in May. People—not only from Siracusa, but from all over Sicily—have mobbed the town square. There is music and priests and suited sweaty men carrying a silver statue and suited sweaty women carrying the reliquary.

Meet Santa Lucia. This is one of her days. Twice a year, the town of Siracusa, Italy (pictured here) celebrates her life and her martyrdom. Although they don’t own the rights to her; she is revered worldwide by the devoted. What makes her so worthy of celebration? I guess if you’re religious, the answer is rather automatic. However, one does not become a saint easily, and there are a bevy of macabre, violent, and passionate stories making up each person’s legend that transcend religious afflictions.

Lucia (Lucy) was born in the 3rd century to Roman parents. Her father died when she was young, leaving her and her mother alone in a time that was not so friendly to women. Thankfully she came from a wealthy family. Her first act of rebellion came with a betrothal. Not only did she reject the man, she also donated her dowry to the poor.

Bitter with rejection, her fiance ratted her out to the authorities, which is when the persecution (read torture) began. The Christian legend said that she could not be moved, by the force of men, oxen, a knife in her throat, or upon having her eyes gouged out. Consequently, she became the saint to the blind and those of poor sight.

It’s rather amazing that a girl (she was 21 years old when she died), could be so sure and confident, so passionate in what she believed, that she would go against her family AND her society to stay true to those beliefs. Sure, there are many possible interpretations of her behavior. Suicidal. Disillusioned. Crazy. I prefer to believe she was resolute. Stubborn. Strong. THIS would make her quite worthy of celebration.

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