Although Saint Lucy never set foot in these Santa Lucia Mountains, they were named in her honor in 1602 by Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaino.
So, who was Lucy anyway?
Well, as with most historical accounts, that information depends on the source. What is agreed upon is that Lucy lived in Syracuse on the island of Sicily where, in the early fourth century, under the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, when being a follower of Christ was a crime. Still, as a devout Christian, Lucy’s faith was irrepressible.
Works of art portray Lucy holding a pair of eyes on a plate, which is where “history” starts to get a bit blurry. In an effort to illuminate the Sicilian martyr’s moral conduct and courage, stories differ.
One telling of Lucy’s story is that she had taken vows of chastity to devote her life to prayer and service to the Lord. Her mother had other ideas and arranged for Lucy to marry a non-Christian man. Lucy refused. Her firmly held beliefs caused her to thwart her suitor’s advances.
Lucy gave away to the poor the money her mother had saved for her dowry. The vengeful pagan bridegroom then accused Lucy of being a Christian and reported her to the authorities. Lucy was arrested and persecuted.
The governor of Syracuse, Paschasius, demanded defilement of Lucy.
Guards hitched her to a team of oxen, but the beasts of burden failed to move her. The guards then piled firewood around Lucy, but the logs would not ignite.
Ever committed, Lucy refused to renounce Christianity.
Infuriated, Paschasius ordered the guards to gouge out Lucy’s eyes. Or, in another interpretation of Lucy’s narrative, she removed her own eyes and gave them to the suitor who had admired her for her eyes. Nevertheless, Lucy’s torture was merciless. The guards then plunged their swords into her body, and Lucy died.
It was the year A.D. 303 (or A.D. 304, according to some references) when she was martyred for her faith. As the story goes, when Lucy’s body was being prepared for burial, attendants discovered that her eyes had been restored.
In view of the fact that Lucy’s name means “light” or “lucid,” and various versions of her legend recount that her eyes were removed (at the hands of her persecutors or by her own hand), Lucy is known as the patron saint of the blind.
Lucky for authors and journalists, especially Santa Lucia Mountain residents who often put pen to paper, for some reason, Lucy is also known as the patron saint of writers.
It’s anyone’s guess why Vizcaino chose Lucy as the namesake for this coastal mountain range. Perhaps, while on his expedition, the explorer awoke to the surroundings set ablaze with brilliant sunbeams through stout oaks and towering pines. The blinding rays of light from above may have inspired the Spaniard to reflect on St. Lucy.
Regardless the reason, he did indeed honor her by naming this majestic mountain range Sierra de Santa Lucia.