Sunday, December 4, 2016

52 Saints ~ Week 49 ~ Blessed Lucy of Narnia


The reason I chose to write about Bl. Lucia of Narnia is because of my great-granddaughter Evelynn Lucille, whose mother calls her "my little Pevensie."

I first heard of Bl. Lucy (Lucia) of Narnia on a C. S. Lewis website called Into the Wardrobe. At the time it was the C. S. Lewis website, and in a way, it still is even though the forum is closed and nothing new is being posted. At the time, I got the impression that not much was known about Bl. Lucia, and that she was one of those saints that was acclaimed locally, but never formally recognized. I see now that I was very much mistaken. There seems to be a great deal of information about her, most of it in Italian, and she was beatified by Pope Clement XI on March 1, 1710. Most of the information that one can find on the internet about Bl. Lucia can be found on the website, Narnia, which promotes the city of Narni (formerly Narnia)  in Italy, and about which Lewis more than likely knew nothing except maybe the name. The city of Narni, however, definitely knows Lewis. Everything that I am about to write here, except my own opinions, comes from that website, and you might do better just to go look around here.

Lucia Brocadelli was born into a noble family on December 13, 1476. Beginning at the age of 5 and throughout her life, she received visits from Mary, Jesus, and various saints. Many of these visits were witnessed by others. In fact, there were even stories that when she was an infant, St. Catherine of Siena came to visit her daily, picked her up, and blessed her. When she was 7, Jesus and Our Lady came to her with St. Catherine and St.Dominic. Jesus put a ring on her finger and St. Dominic gave her a scapular. I don't know if these things were visibile to others. I expect not. St. Catherine was also given a ring by Our Lord, invisible, I believe by her request.

There are many stories from her childhood that demonstrate Lucia's love of and devotion to God. When an uncle visited her home with many toys for the children (Lucia was the oldest of 11 children.), instead of toys, she chose a rosary which she called her Christerello, which became her prized possession. One of the most prodigious stories concerns a marble statue of Mary holding the Baby Jesus in a nearby church. One day Lucia was praying before the statue and was longing to hold the baby in her arms. Mary handed her the baby, which became a real infant, and Lucia ran home with him and took care of him in her room for three days, during which time the statue of the infant disappeared.

At the age of twelve, Lucia made a private consecration to the Lord. Her intention was to join the Dominicans. However, when her father died, her uncle decided that the best plan for the 15 year old Lucia was to find her a husband. She rejected the first suitor, and wanted to reject the second, Count Pietro of Milan, a family friend. After receiving a visit from Mary, Jesus, and Sts. Catherine and Dominic, however, she consented to marry Pietro if he would agree to live as brother and sister.

To me Pietro is the most interesting person in Lucia's life. I wonder why he agreed to this arrangement. Was it financially beneficial for him to marry Lucia? Did he think that she would eventually change her mind. Or, perhaps, did he recognize that she was truly following God's call?

Whatever the reason, he allowed her to live as she chose. Although she was mistress of a noble house, she worked alongside her servants, treating them as members of the family. She was generous to the poor. She lived a very penitential life, and she continued to receive heavenly visitors, and this was what finally became too much for Pietro. It was fine when St. Catherine and two other female saints came to help her make the altar bread, but when she was out all night with two men, who she said were St. Dominic and John the Baptist, Pietro locked her up and kept her imprisoned throughout Lent.

After going to Mass on Easter, Lucia never returned to Pietro's house, she moved home, and became a Dominican tertiary. In his anger, and really who can blame him, Pietro burned down the Dominican priory. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to convince Lucia to return, Pietro perhaps realized that Lucia was doing the right thing, because he became a Francisan and famous preacher. In a way, Pietro reminds me of Felix Leseuer, the French atheist who belittled his wife Elizabeth's faith during her life, but who on reading her diaries after her death, converted and and became a priest.

After this, Lucia was asked to found a monastery. It was here that she received the stigmata, which brought her a good deal of fame, but also garnered some opposition from those who thought it unauthentic, Later, she was asked by the Duke of Ferrara to be prioress of another monastery that he was building. She went, hoping to found a monastery of strict observance. These were lay monasteries, Third Order, but Lucia apparently did not see this as an excuse for a tepid religious life.

Lucia lived during the time of Borgias. Alexander VI was pope during the time I have been writing about, and the Duke of Ferrara was to become Lucretia Borgia's father-in-law. At one time, he sent eleven candidates for the monastery to Lucia under Lucretia's care. It seems that many of them were not successful in religious life.

As I said earlier, not everyone was pleased with Lucia's spirituality, and when the Pope (This would have been Pope Julius II, I believe.) sent ten second order nuns to reform the monastery, Lucia was put under penance. She was not allowed to speak to anyone (although she purportedly had heavenly visitors) for the last 39 years of her life.

At her death, however, many people came to her funeral which lasted for three days. Her body was later displayed incorrupt.

I have some paintings of Bl. Lucia that I collectd several months ago when I wrote the beginning of this piece, and unfortunately, I cannot remember where they reside (the paintings themselves). Some are in her chapel in Narnia.

Pretty sure this is in the chapel.

I'm really not sure if this is supposed to be St. Catherine holding baby Lucia (which seems likely to me)
or Bl. Lucia holding the Christ Child.

I believe that the first  kneeling Dominican saint to the left of Mary is Bl. Lucia, but again, I'm not sure.

Above the altar in the chapel.

The best, longest, and most interesting biography of Bl. Lucia is here.

AMDG

4 comments:

  1. This was so interesting! I wish I'd have known it before. I actually went through the Narni train station last year en route from Rome to Assisi, and I remember I made a quip to my wife about being near Narnia. Little did I know that there were a Lucy and a Peter not far away.

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    1. Ha. I didn't even catch that we had Peter, too.

      AMDG

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