Our autumn almanac 10.12.2010 – 16.12.2010

This week sees on Dec 13 St Lucy’s Day or the Feast of St. Lucy and is marked by Catholics and Orthodox Christians and also celebrated by members of the Lutheran Church.

Saint Lucy’s Day or the Feast of St. Lucy is marked by Catholics and Orthodox Christians and also celebrated by members of the Lutheran Church.

Celebrations take place in the USA and Europe, especially Scandinavia.

Lucy, whose name means ‘light’, is the patron saint of the blind.

Lucy was born in 283 AD in Syracuse, Sicily, and was killed there in 303 AD during Roman persecution under the Emperor Diocletian.

Most of the other details about Lucy are probably fabrications.
The legend of Lucy

Lucy is said to have been the daughter of a rich nobleman who died when she was young. Her mother was not a Christian and wanted to arrange a marriage between Lucy and a rich Pagan man. Lucy had committed her life to Christ and pledged to remain a virgin. She wished to spend the money intended for her dowry on alms for the poor.

Lucy travelled with her mother to the tomb of Saint Agatha. As they prayed at the tomb, Lucy saw a vision of Saint Agatha and her mother’s longstanding illness was miraculously cured as Lucy had hoped it would be. Lucy’s mother converted to Christianity.

Lucy was then able to spend her money helping the poor, but her intended bridegroom was not pleased and denounced her to the Roman governor as a Christian. (The governor’s name is sometimes given as Paschasius.)

The governor first ordered Lucy to make sacrifices to his idols, but she refused and said she would only sacrifice to Christ through her good works.

Hearing this, the governor sentenced Lucy to forced prostitution as an intensely degrading punishment, but she claimed that her soul would remain pure no matter what was done to her against her will. When the guards came to carry her out, the Holy Spirit made her body heavy and immobile, impossible to lift.

Lucy was put to death after suffering various tortures. She was burned alive and came out miraculously unharmed. According to the somewhat fanciful thirteenth-century retelling found in The Golden Legend, despite being stabbed through the neck with a dagger she continued to prophesy the downfall of the governor, the emperor and his co-regent, all of which came to pass after her death.

In other versions, Lucy’s eyes were torn out and later healed by God, a legend that supports her association with the blind and explains why she is often pictured holding two eyes on a dish.

Dec Thu 16
Ashura (Muslim )

Islamic holy day observed on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram. Shi’ite Muslims regard it as a major festival marking the martydom of the Prophet’s grandson, Hussein.

Ashura has been a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims since the days of the early Muslim community. It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by Allah.

Shi’a Muslims in particular use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet, in 680 CE.

In Shi’ite communities this is a solemn day: plays re-enacting the martyrdom are often staged and many take part in mourning rituals.

Every year in London Shi’a Muslims gather for a mourning procession and speeches at Marble Arch. The procession attracts up to 3000 men, women and children from many different ethinic backgrounds.

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