Norms: The Saints Collection | Santa Lucia
At this festive and, for some, religious time of year, the calendar is awash with Saint’s days and festivals which make the whole Christmas period sparkle with something rather magical. Last week, I noted the passing of St Nicholas’ day, a Saint’s day of the utmost import because it is that rotund smiling fellow who will pass out the presents this December 24th, and of course because he happens to share my name. Last Saturday, another festive favourite was celebrated: St Lucy or Santa Lucia as she is perhaps more widely known, and as the bringer of light and patron saint of sight, this Saint is equally important at this sparkling, light infused time of the year.
In fact such is Santa Lucia’s renown as the bringer of light, that her Saint’s day is celebrated with gusto in the Scandinavian lands, where darkness reigns for much of the day at this time of the year, and where locals therefore gather in reverence to the Saint in the hope that St. Lucy will bring them more light to get through the winter. Apparently her connection with light stems from the fact that at the time of her death at the hands of Emperor Diocletian, her eyes were gouged out, either by order of the Emperor, or by herself in order to disuade a potential suitor from pursuing her. Either way, the story has been taken up in popular iconography, and in more recent times, Santa Lucia has been depicted holding her eyes on a platter.
And so, here is Santa Lucia Norm, depicted in all her glory with eyes upon a platter. No gruesome gouging here (it is Christmas after all), but just the suggestion of it. My Santa Lucia is wearing the crown of candles which is worn by celebrants of her festival in the Scandinavian celebrations which are the basis of my depiction. Those celebrations also include choirs of children wearing white gowns, conical hats and carrying candles in homage to the Saint’s light-giving powers – celebrations which are depicted here against a snowy, Christmassy Scandinavian landscape. More about those celebrations tomorrow, but in the meantime – a Merry Christmas to all!
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