Feast of St. Lucy, December 13th
January 4, 2012

by Haley

Even before I became Catholic I’ve always loved St. Lucy’s Day. The Feast of St. Lucy (whose name means ‘light’) takes place during the darkest time of the year and is a bright spot during the dark, cold days of Advent. This brave saint was an early 4th century martyr from Sicily. When St. Lucy refused to wed a pagan and, desiring to remain a virgin, gave away her dowry to the poor, the man who wanted to marry her turned her in for being a Christian. Her eyes were plucked out and yet God restored her sight miraculously (this is why she is often portrayed holding her eyes on a plate and why she is the patron saint of the blind). When her torturers tried to burn her, her body would not burn and when they attempted to drag her to a brothel, her body was immovable. She was finally martyred when stabbed in the throat.

We named our baby girl after St. Lucy because of her courage, purity, and love for Christ. Also our baby is really cute:

See? Anyhow. Daniel made a Santa Lucia Bread Crown, a traditional Swedish way to celebrate St. Lucy’s Day. He modified a recipe from Cooking with the Saints which turned out just fine, but he says that next year he will just do a similar style braided crown using cinnamon roll dough. This recipe wasn’t as sweet and moist as it could have been.

Santa Lucia Crown

Crown Ingredients:

1/2 c. warm water

2 tsp. dry yeast

1/2 c warm milk

1/2 c sugar

4 TBSP softened butter

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg

4. c. flour

3 eggs

Icing Ingredients

1 c. powdered sugar

4 tsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

Pour 1/4 of the warm water into a large bowl. Add yeast and stir until dissolved. Add the other 1/4 cup of water, milk, sugar, butter, salt, spices, and 2 cups of the flour and blend. Add 2 eggs and remaining flour.

Knead on floured surface approx 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover until it doubled in size (approx. 1 hr).

Punch down dough and remove to floured surface. Separate dough for top of crown (1/3) and the larger bottom of crown (2/3). Divide the 2/3 of dough into 3 pieces, roll them, and braid into a rope, form circle and pinch ends to seal. Set on greased baking sheet. Repeat braiding with the remaining 1/3 of dough. Cover braids and let rise 1 hour, or until they double.

Beat remaining egg and brush onto bread. Bake at 375 for 15 min and remove smaller braid. Cover larger braid in foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Combine ingredients for icing and ice the cooled braids after stacking them.

Beware that sneaky toddlers don’t stick their fingers in the icing.



St. Thomas Aquinas
March 19, 2011

Lundi Gras, “Fat Monday,” is the Monday before Ash Wednesday. This year it fell on March 7th, which is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas was a 13th century Dominican priest and scholar from Aqino, Italy who made gigantic contributions to theology, philosophy, and Academia. For these reasons he was made a Doctor of the Church, a recognition of his importance and the trustworthiness of all of his teachings. Even secular scholars consider him to be one of the most important Western thinkers.  It would be difficult to overstate his genius and holiness. However, towards the end of his life, Christ visited Thomas while he was celebrating Mass. As a reward for all of his work, Christ offered to give him whatever he desired. When asked what he wanted, Thomas replied, “Only you Lord. Only you.” After this, Thomas experienced an ecstasy and saw a vision. He never told anyone what he had seen but he no longer desired to write. When a friend suggested he take up his pen again and finish his books, Thomas replied, “I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me.” That’s probably worth thinking about.

Since St. Thomas was from Aquino, which is in the Lazio region of Italy, I made Costarelle di Maiale alla Laziale (grilled pork chops Lazio style). We also had a bottle of Sangiovese/Chianti, wine from that area.

To make the costarelle di maiale all you need are some pork chops, good olive oil, wine, pepper, salt, and some Italian bread.

1.     Get your grill going. A wood fire is best, especially since the recipe is so simple.

2.     Slice your bread, nice and thick. Dip the chops into the oil, wine, pepper, and salt.

3.     Toss the chops on the grill and place the bread on top to soak up some of the juice.

4.     Flip the chops and place the bread directly on the grill. Be careful, you don’t want the bread to burn or the meat to dry out. Nothing is worse than dry pork. That’s probably in the Summa somewhere.

We ate this with some greens from the garden. I forget what kind. Maybe cauliflower leaves. We also drank the rest of the wine. St. Thomas Aquinas said many brilliant things. Among them was, “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine.”

Here’s a prayer of his:

O creator past all telling, you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom the hierarchies of angels, disposing them in wondrous order above the bright heavens, and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.

You we call the true fount of wisdom and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.

You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn, able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.

Guide my going in and going forward, lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man, and live for ever and ever. Amen.