St Lucy’s Day

13 December 2013

Today, is the feast day of St Lucy, patron saint of blind people, who was martyred at Syracuse in the early fourth century. A devout Christian, she was allegedly denounced by a rejected suitor after giving away all her money to the poor.

St Lucy is also regarded as the bringer of light, her name being derived from the Latin – lux, lucis – and before the calendar reform in 1752, her feast day coincided with the winter solstice, after which the hours of daylight begin to lengthen.

In the Christian Church, the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after St Lucy’s Day are the first of four groups of Ember Days (days of fasting and prayer) in the ecclesiastical year. The others fall after the first Sunday in Lent, after Whit Sunday and after Holy Cross Day (14 September).

Throughout the centuries, there have been specialist schools for blind students in England – and no doubt, elsewhere across the globe – including the Barclay Home for Blind Girls at 21-27 Wellington Road, Brighton. Run by Annie Snowball, in 1911 the school had 48 adults and 44 children enumerated with their impairments recorded in detail. Comments included ‘partial sight’, ‘defective vision’, ‘total since birth’, ‘blind and deaf, total since 2 years old’, ‘since measles at 7 years’ and ‘total, congenital’.

There are lists of famous blind and visually impaired people online but I wonder, how many people called Lucy have been recorded as blind over the years?

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