Don Donato pulled us away from the golden Madonna and led us towards the back of the church. He stopped in front of a large statue standing regally in one niche, high above a small altar devoted to this particular saint, Santa Lucia Vergine e Martire. Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind and those with eye problems, and is often depicted holding a plate with two eyes on it.
Don Donato asked Andrea to climb onto the altar, remove the crosses and candlesticks, and open the glass door that encased Santa Lucia. Carefully, Andrea picked up these sacred articles, reverently kissing a large cross before setting it aside. At the monsignor’s instruction, he gingerly tugged on the door, swinging it fully open so we could see several other items resting inside next to the saint’s feet.
Gasping, we read the engraving now clearly visible on the statue’s base: A devozione di Perrotta Maria Ved. Del Pozzo 1966. That was Tony’s grandmother, Maria Perrotta, widower of his grandfather Del Pozzo. There was also a faded photograph depicting a girl in glasses. So this is what the old woman in front of the church had been trying to tell us.
His grandmother had made a substantial offering to Santa Lucia as a plea for help. As we gazed up at the saint, Tony filled us in. He remembered hearing that his grandmother had suffered from eye troubles throughout her life. Now it all made sense.
Gingerly, Tony took his turn climbing up onto the altar, coming face to face not only with Santa Lucia, but with the ghost of his grandmother’s past.