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Candlelit service remembers 4th century martyr.

WORSHIPPERS flocked to a candlit evening to celebrate the traditional candlelit Santa Lucia service.

The festival of readings and carols, open to the public each year, included a candlelight procession featuring a singer designated "Santa Lucia" wearing a crown of burning candles.

This year's Santa Lucia soloist was Beatrice Williams, currently a pupil at Edgbaston High School, who has been singing since the age of seven.

The Santa Lucia service is organised by the Consulate of Sweden in Birmingham.

The event dates from December AD304 when a young girl called Lucia was martyred in Syracuse, Sicily, for refusing to make a sacrifice to the Emperor Diocletian.

Legend has it that Lucia was willing to sacrifice even her eyes for her true belief and she became a symbol of light in darkness.

In the 19th century the Lucia song came to Sweden from Naples.

The song was given a Swedish text and became very popular in Sweden.

In 1927 a Swedish newspaper organised a contest and "crowned" the first Lucia, bringing in the modern way to celebrate the saint's life and sacrifice.

An event spokesman said: "Today Lucia is celebrated in Sweden in practically every home, church, school and office.

"She appears dressed in a white gown with a crown of candles, accompanied by groups of girls, also in white, all singing the Lucia song and Christmas Carols."

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<BSoloist Beatrice Williams with her crown of burning candles and (right) a young girl takes part in the Santa Lucia Service at Birmingham Cathedral

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUSW
Date:Dec 10, 2015
Words:253
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