Gli occhi di Santa Lucia
Today, December 13, is the feast of Santa Lucia an important saint for Italians. Born in 283AD, Lucia was a young girl from Syracuse in Sicily who dedicated her virginity to God. Her mother didn’t know this and arranged a marriage for her. When she refused to marry, Lucia was outed as a Christian by her betrothed and was martyred. It is said that her eyes were put out before her death and, for this reason, she is the patron saint of the blind and people with eye problems.
The body of Santa Lucia is kept in Venice at the Church of San Geremia. There they make votive candles in the shape of her eyes so accompany prayers to protect yours. You can see these in the picture.
Before the calendar was reformed the winter solstice fell on or very near Santa Lucia’s day and so there is an Italian saying, Santa Lucia è il giorno più corto che ci sia (Santa Lucia is the shortest day there is). Many people still quote this even though the shortest day is now the 21 December.