It's St. Lucy's feast day today! This is especially exciting for me because she's my Confirmation saint. (Also, there's a fun tradition in our house where I get to make scones and Irish soda bread on St. Lucy's day. So that's a plus.)
I get the feeling I've done a post on St. Lucy before. *sheepish smile* So instead of rambling on about her in particular, I'll ramble on about virgin martyrs in general, particularly the Roman ones.
Aren't they so cool? Ever since I was a little girl, I've been absolutely fascinated by these young ladies. First, they decide to give themselves entirely and completely to God. And then, they're so brave they stand up to these big scary Roman soldiers and prefects and say, "I don't care what you do to me. I belong to Christ, and I will until I die." And they do die. That is the epitome of courage!
And then there's the fact that they're usually portrayed as being perfectly lovely and very well-to-do and yet too selfless to let that go to their heads or affect their holiness, which makes them little less than fairy tale princesses. :)
Actually, they're a lot better than fairy tale princesses. They're real princesses, real heroines, real saints. They knew what the most important thing in life is, and they devoted themselves entirely to God. They didn't let anything stand in their way.
Now, despite the fact that we usually think of these virgin martyrs (and all martyrs, really) as perfectly fearless, we've got to remember that they were human - and, as such, they were probably afraid. They were probably dreadfully afraid at times. I'm sure it wasn't exactly pleasant to be on the rack. There was joy, certainly; but it was spiritual joy, the joy of knowing that Heaven awaited them. Whether or not they suffered with a heavenly glow about them, as all the saints do in the novel Fabiola, I don't know. I always think of them that way. But once in awhile I have to pull myself up and remember, these aren't fairy tales. These are real live events. There really was a persecution in Rome, there really was a Coliseum, there really were fires, and lions, and arrows. And these martyrs were real people. They sinned, like we all do. They felt sorrow and anger and fear, like we all do. They weren't supermen.
And that, of all things, is what makes them so amazing. They were fallen human beings, and they did the impossible - endured incredible pain and suffering with joy, because they knew there were more important things than worldly riches and comfort.
On their own, they never could have done it.
But nothing is impossible with God.