In the midst of a turbulent week (aren’t they all, eh?) in the world, in the Church, and I dare say in the individual details of your own lives… here’s something to cheer you right up. Well, two things actually.
Here’s the first: today is the actual feast day of the actual Blessed Lucy of Narnia. It really, really is. I promise you.
Of all the great characters from children’s literature, who better to have a namesake to intercede for us in heaven? (At least, in the absence of a St Bofa of Sofa.) After all, it was she, of all the Pevensie children, who first believed. Nor should we forget, not least as we approach Advent, that it was she who once said:
In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.
The second thing, however, is even more cheering than the first. The life of the real Lucy is even more magical and wondrous even than the one CS Lewis imagined for “Queen Lucy the Valiant”.
Born in the late fifteenth century, Blessed Lucia (“Lucy” in English) Brocadelli was from the ancient Umbrian town of Narni (“Narnia” in Latin). A pious child, she is said to have received visions from an early age. Following her father’s death in her early teens, she was married off by her uncle to Pietro, Count of Milan, though they lived as brother and sister.
As Countess, she was famed for her life of prayer and care for the poor, baking bread for them herself (ably assisted, it is said, by a number of Saints from Heaven). The lure of religious life proved irresistible. And the couple separated, she to become a Dominican tertiary, and he ultimately to join the Franciscans.
Among much else, Lucy of Narnia received the stigmata and became prioress of a convent, before ultimately spending her final four decades locked up by her successor. She died in 1544. In 1710, her body incorrupt, she was beatified by Pope Clement XI.
Of course, much of Lucy’s biography sounds fantastical. The more sceptical among you might well think that, at the very least, not everything attributed to her really, truly happened. And perhaps you might be right.
But suppose that just the barest bones of this story is true. That there once was a little girl called Lucy. That she lived a life of faith, hope, and charity. That she suffered much, but loved more. And that she is now, in her true home, in the company of her Lord.
Now that, as CS Lewis would be the very first to admit, is an infinitely more amazing, delightful, and cheering thing than all the wardrobes, Turkish Delight, and magical lions you care to imagine.
Blessed Lucy of Narnia, pray for us.