When it comes to kitsch the Catholic Church is often in a league of its own.
Today is the Festa della Santa Lucia (Feast of Saint Lucy) and the church of San Geremia will expect to do a roaring trade in the sale of its rather special candles.
San Geremia is home to the body of Saint Lucy (died circa 304) and sells candles in the shape of two eyes, the saint's attribute. According to legend, Lucy plucked out her eyes and sent them to her lover, because he would not cease from praising their beauty. God rewarded her with a new pair.
It is not hard to see (no pun intended!) why Santa Lucia became the patron saint of people suffering from diseases of the eyes and opticians. When she is depicted in paintings her eyes lie on a dish or sprout like flowers from a stalk in her hand.
St Lucy's body was stolen by the Venetians during the sacking of Constantinople in 1204. It was originally housed in a church dedicated to the saint, but in 1860 it was demolished to make way for the railway station. The saint's body was duly moved to the nearby church of San Geremia, where it remains to this day.
The church might have been destroyed, but its memory lives on in the name of the station, Venezia Santa Lucia.
Blogging about Venice:
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England.
Since 200I I have been living in Italy, where I run private tours of Florence, Rome &
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