Home » Destinations » Italy » Sicily » Siracusa, Sicily: Basilica Santa Lucia al Sepolcro (Basilica of St. Lucy)

Siracusa, Sicily: Basilica Santa Lucia al Sepolcro (Basilica of St. Lucy)

About Saint Lucy:

Lucy was born during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian…who led the last and perhaps most severe of the persecution of Christians.  Lucy came from a noble family.  Her mother was a pagan but her father was a Christian and raised her in the Faith. He died when she was only five years old and unfortunately, her mother, Eutydchia, was quite sickly and unable to take care of her.  There are several versions of her life story, so we will present the general outline here.

Lucy privately decided in her teenage years to consecrate her virginity to God, and devote her worldly goods to the service of the poor. Her mother, unaware of Lucy’s vow,  had arranged for Lucy to be married to a man from a wealthy pagan family.  It was out of fear that she herself, because of a bleeding disorder, would not be alive much longer.

One day Lucy went to the tomb of Saint Agatha in Catania, Sicily and saw Saint Agatha in a vision….Saint Agatha told Lucy that her mother would be cured through faith.  Lucy told her mother of this vision, and her mother converted to Christianity and was cured.  She then allowed Lucy to give her dowry to the poor and to commit her life to God.

The young man who would have been her husband was greatly angered by this and reported them to the governor as being Christians….a crime punishable by death.  Attempts were made to punish her, but according to tradition, everything failed (including trying to burn her alive at the stake…the wood would not light! )

Somewhere in the traditional story we are told that her eyes were removed…not sure how or under what circumstances, but for this reason she is the Patron Saint of the Blind & Eye Disorders.  She was finally  killed by sword on December 13, 304 AD.

Originally entombed here, her relics were removed hundreds of years after her death and are now in Venice.

By Claudia Gründer – Claudia Gründer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3221537

In one story,  Lucy was working to help Christians who were hiding in the catacombs during the terror under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.  She needed light to see in the dark halls of the catacombs, and in order to bring with her as many supplies as possible, she needed to have both hands free. She solved this problem by attaching candles to a wreath on her head.  This tradition lives on in many countries..especially in Scandinavia, as it coincides with the darkest time of the year.  Young girls process with a wreath of lighted candles on their head on December 13.

Lucy was never officially declared a Saint….the process was not yet in place for Sainthood….but was considered a saint by those who knew her.

We celebrate her feast day on December 13.

About The Basilica Santa Lucia al Sepolcro in Siracusa:

Sibeaster [Public domain]
The Basilica was built in the 14th century over the site of an earlier church dedicated to Saint Agatha and the place of her martyrdom. Saint Lucy was originally interred here, but when the Saracens invaded, a general brought the relics to Constantinople. During the 4th Crusade the Crusaders stole the relics and brought them to Venice but was later moved to Venice in the Church of Saint Geremia.

The tomb also once housed the marble statue of Lucia, who miraculously exuded in 1735 and was built by Gregorio Tedeschi in 1634.

In 1912, however, it was decided to move the statue inside a glass case below the altar.


Finding the Basilica Santa Lucia al Sepolcro in Siracusa:

The Basilica is located on a beautiful square near the center of the city and close to the major stadium Nicola De Simone.

Address:  Via Luigi Bignami, 1, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy

Tel: +39 0931 67946

email:  parish@basilicasantalucia.com

Click here for the official website of the Basilica Santa Lucia al Sepolcro

⇐ Back to Catholic shrines and places of interest in Sicily