|Saint Lucia by Sassoferrato|
Pronunciation: loo-CHEE-uh, loo-SEE-uh, LOO-sha
Other forms: Lucy, Luzia
Lucia is one of my absolute favorites, but alas I have not a speck of Italian or Spanish blood (though I do have German, so it could work out if I wanted).
Lucia is originally the feminine form of Lucius, a Roman praenomen (given name) which came from the Latin lux - "light". It is surprisingly ranked #230 in the US, and is, deservedly, reigning as the top name in Spain right now. As you can see it has all sorts of different pronunciations floating around, but to me, the most beautiful is the Italian "loo-CHEE-uh".
Saint Lucia was a martyr from 4th-century Syracuse - though she is more commonly known as Saint Lucy - and is the patron Saint of the blind, writers, martyrs, epidemics, and Syracuse, among many others. Her mother's name was Eutychia, which many take as proof she came from a Greek family, and she suffered from a bleeding disorder. Lucia had vowed her virginity to God, and wished to leave her dowry for the poor, but her mother arranged for her to marry a young and wealthy pagan. Eutychia traveled to Saint Agatha's shrine in Catania, hoping for a cure. While she was there Agatha appeared to Lucia in a dream, saying that because of her faith her mother would be cured, and that she would be the glory of Syracuse. When her mother was cured she was able to persuade her to let her give much of her riches to the poor.
However, this did not make her betrothed happy, and he reported her to the Governor of Syracuse, Paschasius, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice in his image, but of course Lucia refused. He then ordered she be defiled in a brothel, but the guards could not move her, not even with the help of oxen. Then, they tried to burn her, but the wood would not catch fire. Finally, they were able to kill her with a sword.
The most well known part of her story is that she had her eyes removed, but this does not appear until later traditions. Some say they were removed because she foretold the punishment of Paschasius, and the end of the Diocletianic Persecution, that Diocletian would reign no more and that Maximian would die. Others say she removed them herself because a suitor liked them so. Legend states that when her body was prepared to be put into the mausoleum, her eyes had been miraculously restored.
The island Saint Lucia in Caribbean was named after her by the first settlers there, the French. Other namesakes include Lucia Rijker, a Dutch professional boxer, kick-boxer, and actress, Lucia dos Santos, a seer who supposedly spoke to the Virgin Mary, Lucia Galeazzi Galvani, an Italian scientist, and operatic soprano Lucia Popp.