By Anne Kurian

A feast under the sign of light is how Pope Francis recalled the memorial of Saint Lucy, (December 13), Virgin and Martyr, who died in Syracuse, Sicily.

During the General Audience over which he presided in Paul VI Hall on December 11, 2019, the Holy Father greeted, as usual, young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds, mentioning the Saint whose name means “light.”

Saint Lucy was a victim of the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 304. “As long as she lived, she kept her lamp lighted to go before the Bridegroom and, led to death for Christ, she merited to enter with Him in the wedding chamber and to possess the light that has no end,” states the Roman Martyrology.

As every year on this date, a Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Paul Poupard, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, on December 13 at 5:00 pm in the Papal Basilica of Saint John Lateran “for the happiness and prosperity of France,” points out the site of France’s Embassy to the Holy See.

This tradition goes back to French King Henry IV, born at Pau, under the Saint’s protection, on December 13, 1553. The King wished to mark the renewal of dialogue between France and the papacy by making a gift of the Abbey of Clairac to the Chapter of the Lateran’s canons. In gratitude, the King — and after him, the Heads of the French State — received the title “Honorary Canon of the Lateran’s Chapter So prayers are offered for France at Rome when King Henry IV’s anniversary is observed.

Another Mass for France is celebrated every year at Saint Peter’s, in Saint Petronille’s Chapel, Virgin and Martyr, who rests there, secondary Patroness of France and regarded as the daughter, in any event spiritual, of Saint Peter and France, by analogy, as the “Eldest Daughter” of the Church.

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