Commemorated on December 13 – Virginmartyr Lucy of Syracuse

Saint Lucy was born in Syracuse, Sicily during the reign of Diocletian. She distributed her wealth to the poor, and made a vow of virginity. Since she refused to marry him, a rejected suitor denounced her to the prefect Paschasius as a Christian, and she was arrested. She was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel, but with God’s help she preserved her purity.

Then the pagans attempted to burn her alive, but she was not harmed by the fire. Finally, she was killed by a sword thrust to the throat.

The name Lucy (Lucia) is derived for the Latin word for light (lux), and so she is often invoked for afflictions of the eyes. There is a tradition that she was blinded by her torturers, and the church of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples even claims to possess her eyes.

Commemorated on December 9 – Prophetess Hannah the mother of the Prophet Samuel

The Holy Prophetess Hannah dwelt in marriage with Elkanah, but she was childless. Elkanah took to himself another wife, Phennena, who bore him children. Hannah grieved strongly over her misfortune, and every day she prayed for an end to her barrenness, and vowed to dedicate her child to God.

Once, as she prayed fervently in the Temple, the priest Heli thought that she was drunk, and he began to reproach her. But the saint poured out her grief, and after she received a blessing, she returned home. After this Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, whom she named Samuel (which means “Asked from God”).

When the child reached the age of boyhood, the mother herself presented him to the priest Heli, and Samuel remained with him to serve before the Tabernacle (1 Kings/1 Samuel 2: 1-21).

Commemorated on December 9 – The Conception by Righteous Anna of the Most Holy Mother of God

Saint Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was the youngest daughter of the priest Nathan from Bethlehem, descended from the tribe of Levi. She married Saint Joachim (September 9), who was a native of Galilee.

For a long time Saint Anna was childless, but after twenty years, through the fervent prayer of both spouses, an angel of the Lord announced to them that they would be the parents of a daughter, Who would bring blessings to the whole human race.

The Orthodox Church does not accept the teaching that the Mother of God was exempted from the consequences of ancestral sin (death, corruption, sin, etc.) at the moment of her conception by virtue of the future merits of Her Son. Only Christ was born perfectly holy and sinless, as Saint Ambrose of Milan teaches in Chapter Two of his Commentary on Luke. The Holy Virgin was like everyone else in Her mortality, and in being subject to temptation, although She committed no personal sins. She was not a deified creature removed from the rest of humanity. If this were the case, She would not have been truly human, and the nature that Christ took from Her would not have been truly human either. If Christ does not truly share our human nature, then the possibilty of our salvation is in doubt.

The Conception of the Virgin Mary by Saint Anna took place at Jerusalem. The many icons depicting the Conception by Saint Anna show the Most Holy Theotokos trampling the serpent underfoot.

“In the icon Saints Joachim and Anna are usually depicted with hands folded in prayer; their eyes are also directed upward and they contemplate the Mother of God, Who stands in the air with outstretched hands; under Her feet is an orb encircled by a serpent (symbolizing the devil), which strives to conquer all the universe by its power.”

There are also icons in which Saint Anna holds the Most Holy Virgin on her left arm as an infant. On Saint Anna’s face is a look of reverence. A large ancient icon, painted on canvas, is located in the village of Minkovetsa in the Dubensk district of Volhynia diocese. From ancient times this Feast was especially venerated by pregnant women in Russia.