Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery, legends grew up, reported in the acta that are associated with her name. All the details are conventional ones also associated with other female martyrs of the early 4th century. Her Roman father died when she was young, leaving her and her mother without a protecting guardian. Her mother, Eutychia, had suffered four years with dysentery but Lucy had heard the renown of Saint Agatha, the patroness of Catania, "and when they were at a Mass, one read a gospel that made mention of a woman who was healed of the dysentery by touching of the hem of the coat of Jesus Christ," which, according to the Legenda Aurea, convinced her mother to pray together at Saint Agatha's tomb. They stayed up all night praying, until they fell asleep, exhausted. Saint Agatha appeared in a vision to Lucy and said, "Soon you shall be the glory of Syracuse, as I am of Catania." At that instant Eutychiaea was cured.
Eutychia had arranged a marriage for Lucy with a pagan bridegroom, but Lucy urged that the dowry be spent on alms so that she might retain her virginity. Euthychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered, "...whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death." News that the patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to the ears of Lucy's betrothed, who heard from a chattering nurse that Lucy had found a nobler Bridegroom.
Her rejected pagan bridegroom denounced Lucy as a Christian to the magistrate Paschasius, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor's image. Lucy replied that she had given all that she had: "I offer to Him myself, let Him do with His offering as it pleases Him." She was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel.
The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away they found her so filled with the Holy Spirit that she was stiff and heavy as a mountain; they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Even with a dagger through her throat she prophesied against her persecutor. As final torture, her eyes were gouged out. She was miraculously still able to see without her eyes. In paintings St. Lucy is frequently shown holding her eyes on a golden plate.
If you don't want to read all that, here is a dorky comic I made of her life when I was 18.
She is the patron saint of vision, light, and for those with eye afflictions. Always having bad vision, and being such a visual person, I think that's part of why I find her so interesting. I also first heard about her at the International Museum of Surgical Science, my favourite place in Chicago FYI, and they had an amazing painting of her up (that unfortunately isn't up anymore):
My ex gave me a bunch of Lucy relics, which I have in my room- a statue, a candle, and a prayer card. I would really like to see her shrine in Venise one day, as well as get a saints medal for her. In her honour today, since I did not celebrate the Scandinavian tradition of waking my roommates up at 4a with coffee and hot buns wearing a headdress of candles, I am "taking out my eyes," so to speak, by donning my spectacles instead of my contacts (a strange tradition I have found myself doing the past few years).
Here's a few more pictures of my lady of light: