Some religious paintings can be very gruesome indeed. A little known painting by Tiepolo, The Last Communion of St Lucy, in the Capella Corner of Santi Apostoli in Venice, shows poor Lucy after her eyes have been put out. They are displayed on a tray at the bottom of the painting.
Lucy was a Sicilian noblewoman born in Syracuse around 300AD. She pledged herself to God, taking a vow of chastity and poverty. The man she was promised to in marriage denounced her to the Consul, accusing her of being christian.
She was committed to a brothel, but, filled with the Holy Spirit, she became immovable, and dozens of men could not move her. Finally, after having her sprinkled with urine (said to drive out evil spirits), then boiling oil mixed with pitch and resin, the Consul had the saint’s throat cut and her eyes put out.
Miraculously, Lucy could still speak after her throat had been cut, continuing to invoke the name of God. Poor Lucy is the patron saint of opticians and those suffering from eye diseases.
The church of Santi Apostoli is in Cannaregio, not far from the Ca d’Oro or Rialto Vaporetto stop.
We were pointed in Lucy’s direction by Secret Venice by Thomas Jonglez and Paolo Zoffoli…the best Venice guide book.