In the month of December, from time immemorial, marble workers and all those who in various capacities work in the employ of the Veneranda Fabbrica celebrate the memory of Saint Lucy.
The origin of this devotion is due to one of the most successful iconographies of the Syracusan Virgin and Martyr, the one depicting her with a plate in her hand, on which two eyes are resting. The image does not originate from the story of the martyrdom of the young woman, who was killed by decapitation or, according to other sources, by jugulatio, by a stab in the neck: instead, it derives from a late and unproven tradition, but evidently effective precisely in the link it finds with the name of the Saint herself, with the call to light.
Saint Lucy has in fact over time become the patron saint of the eyes and, consequently, of the Duomo's stonemasons: patron saint, therefore, of those who, over the centuries, have built every inch of the Cathedral, endangering their eyesight, threatened by dust and splinters of marble. Many, over the centuries, were the episodes of permanent damage to sight and the Fabbrica del Duomo, sensitive to this drama, was one of the first companies to set up a welfare system for its employees who were victims of accidents at work.
Although those times are long gone, the employees of the Veneranda Fabbrica continue to honour their Patron Saint with a celebration, this year, in the Feriale Chapel of the Duomo.
This occasion is enriched by a gesture that is also deeply rooted in the centuries-old history of the Fabbrica: the distribution of blessed bread. Some scholars relate this tradition directly to the cult of the Saint: in Syracuse, in fact, from the 18th century onwards, it is said to have been the custom not to eat bread on 13 December (the liturgical memorial of Saint Lucy) to commemorate a famine that had deeply wounded the city. Others, however, see in this gesture a synthesis of the great charitable activity carried out by the Fabbrica in relation to the donations received in support of the Duomo. In fact, more than one donor, particularly in the first decades of the Duomo's construction, when making his own generous offering for the Cathedral, requested that the Fabbrica donate part of it to the population in the form of bread.
Over the centuries, this gesture of offering was repeated until it became a symbolic moment in the life of the Fabbrica, with the distribution of bread on the feast of Saint Lucy.