Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I’ve Only Got Eyes for You

(With the you in question either being God or the jerk who actually took her eyes.)

Long, long ago, I wrote about St. Agatha, the Catholic patroness of bell-makers. How did she achieve this association with bells, you may ask? When St. Agatha was martyred, her breasts were cut off, and subsequent depictions of her show off her martyr wounds by having her display her severed breasts on a platter. Out of the context of her story, the severed breasts resemble bells. I mean, why else would she so proudly show them off?

Today, I present to you another sad sack saint, whose shtick is almost as horrifying: Saint Lucy, patroness of the blind. Guess what part she lost on her route to martyrdom?

Here, then, are eight images of St. Lucy, showing off what she doesn’t have anymore:

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image via, although this apparently is not mary
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Most disturbing of all is this last one, in which St. Lucy sports her eyes on a sprig of foliage, for no reason other than to appear more horrifying:



I present these not to offend but to marvel at the darkly surreal image of a woman serenely presenting her eyes, even when she seems to still have her eyes in her head. Also, isn’t it strange how the artists often choose to represent her eyes how they might have appeared on her face instead of as eyeballs — like they would have looked had they been removed from her face? Yes, Catholicism is a strange, strange practice. Case in point: cephalophore, a strange and wonderful word used to refer to someone carrying their own head.

God bless!

7 comments:

  1. I'm not sure which image is more horrifying: A woman carrying a platter topped with her own breasts, or a woman carrying a platter topped with her own eyes.

    Which begs the question: Did any woman lose both her eyes *and* breasts on the way to sainthood? I sure hope not!

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    1. You posit an interesting choice there, Bryan. But I feel like saying one way other the other would put me on a surveillance list.

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  2. Anonymous11:29 AM

    I think that's actually Mary in the last one. It would be weird to drape St. Lucia is the iconically Mary-associated tropes. I don't know why she looks like that, but I feel like Illuminati conspiracy buffs or Pan's Labyrinth fans will have something to say about it.

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    1. I agree, actually. And there seems to be some question about the woman’s identity on the source URL as well.

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  3. The Greek icon is definitely not St Lucy. I read Greek. It names the saint as Η αγία Παρασκευή, Saint Paraskevi. The name means "preparation" in Greek and is the word for Friday, as that day is considered to be "preparation for the Sabbath." There are a few saints with this name, but the one with the eyes is a Roman virgin who was martyred in the 2nd c., no details available. She is supposed to cure eye ailments, hence the eyes.

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  4. The Greek icon saint is definitely not St Lucy. I read Greek and the name is Η αγία Παρασκευή, St Paraskevi. The name means "preparation" in Greek and is also the word for Friday, as Friday is considered to be the day of preparation for the Sabbath. There are a few saints named Paraskevi, but this one, with the eyes, is a Roman virgin who was martyred in the 2nd c. I have so far found no details concerning the manner of her martyrdom. St Paraskevi heals eye maladies, that is why she is shown with the disembodied eyes.

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    1. Well there you go. Thanks for the clarification.

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