By Bernie Bell
St. Lucy was martyred for her beliefs in the 4th Century. Before she was killed, she was blinded and she is now the patron saint of the blind. It could seem like a contradiction – a light-bringer who was blind, but the St. Magnus Cathedral Lucy Service does bring light into the dark days of winter.
Darkness cannot dispel light, but light dispels darkness – ‘light’ in spiritual as well as corporal vision.
St. Lucy’s feast-day is the 13th of December and each year in early December a Service is held in her name in St. Magnus Cathedral to honour Lucy and acknowledge the approaching shortest day, after which light will begin to return to the far North, to dispel the dark days.
Last year there was no Lucy Service, and there won’t be one this year either which, to me, shows an enlightened attitude on the part of those who would normally organize the Service. The tree-lighting event will take place exclusively outside, with no indoor Service at all.
Life is not normal now, and people gathering together indoors would very possibly prolong the situation that we find ourselves in.
The Covid pandemic is a darkness on the world which will clear, in some way, eventually. And when it does, St. Magnus Cathedral ( known as the ‘Light in the North’) and the Lucy Service, will ‘Light one thousand Christmas lights, to make the darkness BRIGHT!’ again.
Though I could do with some light at this time I’m glad that the Service isn’t happening – and look ahead to when we can gather, safely, in the light!
This year is the Centenary of the birth of Orkney writer George MacKay Brown https://georgemackaybrownfellowship.com/gmb-centenary-2021/ and GMB wrote a poem ‘Lighting Candles in Midwinter’ honouring Lucy, and her light, and her ‘seeing’…..
“Saint Lucy, see
Seven bright leaves in the winter tree
Seven diamonds shine
In the deepest darkest mine
Seven fish go, a glimmering shoal
Under the ice of the North Pole
Sweet St Lucy, be kind
To us poor and wintered and blind.”
As a reminder, here are some images from the 2018 Lucy Service….. Light in darkness…