· St Lucy celebrated on 13 December ·
You may have thought that
the one well known saint in (post)-Protestant
But that is not the case.
There is another saint who plays a far greater role in Swedish society today —
Santa Lucia, the Sicilian maiden who in the fourth century was blinded and
martyred for her faith. In virtually every school, in every pre-school and day
care center, in many hotels, restaurants, shops and workplaces of every kind,
there is a Santa Lucia procession on 13 December. Many a Nobel Laureate in
The red silk sash
traditionally worn with the white Lucia robe is supposed to symbolize the
martyrdom of Santa Lucia. But I would not say that all Swedes know about the
connection to the Sicilian saint. It might, in fact, be fair to speak of two
traditions — one Sicilian, one Scandinavian. Like Christmas, the Santa Lucia
To say that Swedes — often looked upon as a modernistic, if not to say futuristic people — are fanatically attached to the Santa Lucia tradition is not an exaggeration. And at the core of the tradition, I think, is singing. The Santa Lucia song itself is, of course, imported from Italy But traditionally, Santa Lucia and her maids-in-waiting also sing old Swedish hymns and songs, some with roots in the Middle Ages and sung also in Catholic churches, such as “Det är en ros utsprungen” (German: “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen”).
Cultural customs have
origins, but they can also transcend borders. For the last four years, Mtarfa,
a small Catholic parish in the
But the beauty of a traditional Santa Lucia celebration was perhaps best expressed by an ex-pupil of my father’s. She fainted during the procession, and when she woke up she said: “It was beautiful. So beautiful. The white robes. The candles. The music and singing. I thought I was in heaven. But then I saw the Head Mistress.”
Ulla Gudmundson, Former Swedish Ambassador to the Holy See
St. Peter’s Square
Dec. 8, 2019
The rites of the land
This article was written for “Women Church World” by the team of catechists of the ...
They started again from the matriararchy
Despite the heroism and courage of the Paraguayans the war ended with a massacre for ...
Bianca, the cheerleader in a wheelchair
A blue and white costume, bow in their hair and coordinated pompoms: this is how ...