December’s Parish Letter

Like the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter, the church divides the year into seasons as well. On December 3rd this year, the season of Advent begins. Advent is the four weeks before Christmas during which time Christians anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

There are two Saints associated with Advent: they are Saint Nicholas and Saint Lucy. Saint Nicholas is, of course, well known to us all, also known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Saint Lucy is much less well-known.

Lucy was born in Syracuse, Italy in 283 AD to a rich and noble family. Her father was of Roman origin, but sadly died when she was five years old. As a girl, Lucy converted to Christianity and promised herself to God but kept this secret from her mother.  When her mother became ill, knowing that there was no protective guardian for Lucy, she feared for her daughter’s future safety and security.  Without discussion with Lucy, she arranged for Lucy to be married to a young man from a wealthy (non-Christian) family.  But Lucy rejected this plan, informing her mother of her promise to God and declaring that her dowry would be used to feed the poor and needy.  Initially her mother refused permission but Lucy was finally able to persuade her mother to agree.

Legend tells us that St Lucy spent her wealth on food which she distributed amongst the poor and that at night, under the cover of darkness, she would venture into the catacombs (the underground cemeteries) to feed the Christians hiding there from Roman persecution.  To keep her hands free to carry the food, she would wear a crown of candles, to light her way.  The lamp and wreath of candles have become symbols of Saint Lucy.

The story goes that the young man was so angry seeing the dowry being spent that he denounced Lucy as a Christian in front of the Governor of the Province. At this time the persecution of the christians under Emperor Diocletian was at its height.  Lucy was brought to trial and sentenced to death around the year 304 AD.

Through her actions, St Lucy has become known as the bearer of Christ’s light in the darkness of winter, carrying that light from December 13 (the winter solstice in the Gregorian Calendar) until the arrival of the “Light of the World” at the birth of the Christ-child, Jesus, in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.

This third century Christian who dedicated her life to God and to serving others, is an example for us all on how we can use our time, talents, and treasure to carry the light of Christ to others in their time of need.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Revd Ann Bol

Shingay Group of Churches