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The statue of the dying Saint Lucy

Palazzolo Acreide
February 14, 2022
The Historic Gardens of Siracusa
February 16, 2022
Siracusa, Dying Saint Lucy, Gregorio Tedeschi, 1634, (Foto Archivio Cultur'Arte Santa Lucia)

The statue in the Sepulchre of the dying Saint Lucy

The Florentine sculptor Gregorio Tedeschi, was asked by the Giurati and the Senate of Siracusa to make some sculptures to embellish some of the most important places of the city. For example, he was to create the statues for the large niches on the facade of the Palazzo del Senato or City Hall, built by the Spanish architect Giovanni Vermexio, and other statues of saintly virgins were to adorn the external niches of the Chapel of the Sepulchre of Saint Lucy.” Unfortunately, with the artist’s untimely death, Siracusa couldn’t have the creations for which he had been commissioned, and he was only able to finish the statue of Saint Lucy revered at the Sepulchre.
The figure exemplifies delicacy and harmony; the saint is reclining on her right side on two high cushions, with her left hand falling naturally near her belly. Her face expresses serenity during her passage from life to death, at the meeting with God, while her body is completely enveloped by her robe and mantle with their numerous folds, which underscore her anatomy perfectly. The statue is associated with a supernatural event known as “the miraculous perspiration” which happened during the war between the Spanish and the Austrians in 1735. The 6th, 7th and 8th of May of that year, the Gendarmes and the Friars - custodians of the Sepulchre and the Basilica of the Saint since 1618 - during the preparations intended to protect the altar and its statue from the expected bombardments, noticed that the statue’s face, hands and feet were producing a translucent liquid, similar to sweat.
Siracusa, The dying Saint Lucy (detail), Gregorio Tedeschi, 1634, Chapel of the Sepolchre, (Foto Archivio Cultur'Arte Santa Lucia)
The first day the witnesses of the event believed it was an effect created by light refraction or by the humidity of the place, but with the continuation of the phenomenon which affected only the parts of the body while leaving the robes completely dry, a commission of jurors was established which collected many witness statements, and the event was declared “truthful, real and miraculous” on the 20th of January 1736.
October 2021

He studied at the Istituto Statale d’Arte, specialising in Painting and Visual Arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Noto. He then completed his studies on artistic heritage at the Istituto di Scienze Religiose S. M. in Monte Berico. He studies the cult of St. Lucy and has published various volumes, most recently, Santa Lucia nella pittura aretusea. Pale d’altare e dipinti devozionali nelle chiese della provincia di Siracusa. He has catalogued the precious endowments of the silver simulacrum of the Saint and directed the editorial column of the Deputazione della Cappella di S.Lucia in Siracusa. For Morlacchi editore, he contributed to the text Lux in tenebris lucet.