Eye of Saint Lucia || Saint Lucy's Eye

Eye of Saint Lucia || Saint Lucy's Eye

  • Size: Between 1-3 cm in diameter
  • Color: White, cream, orange, yellow, black or brown 
  • Family: The operculum from shells of the Turbinidae family
  • Fun fact: Named after Saint Lucy, a Christian martyr who had her eyes plucked out during her torture, but they were miraculously restored. The shell is considered a symbol of protection and good luck.

 

Operculum 

The Eye of Saint Lucia is also known as Saint Lucy’s Eye. It is the operculum of certain snail shells, most commonly from the shells of the Turbinidae family. The Eye of Saint Lucia is considered to be a powerful talisman in many cultures and it is often given to loved ones as a symbol of protection and to ward off the "evil eye".

An operculum is a hard small plate made of calcium carbonate that covers the opening of the shell to protect the soft body of the snail.

In some species the operculum is attached to the foot of the sea snail and can be used to seal the aperture of the shell when the animal withdraws inside. Some species also use their opercula to help them move across surfaces or to anchor themselves in place.

Eye of Saint Lucia illustration

When the sea snail dies the operculum is often washed onto the shore and can be found on beaches around the Mediterranean Sea.

In Portugal the Eye of Saint Lucia is called Olho de Santa Luzia and can be found particularly in the southern region of Portugal. The Eye of Saint Lucia that I found are mostly from the Bolma Rugosa shells, that are also commonly found on the Portuguese beaches. 

Assianir, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Eye of Saint Lucia typically has a distinctive pattern of concentric circles that resemble an eye, mostly with a white or cream-colored background or sometimes even with a brown, black, orange or yellow background.
 
The size of the Eye of Saint Lucia can vary depending on the age of the sea snail that it comes from. Generally, it measures between 1 and 3 centimeters in diameter and these are the most commonly found sizes in Portugal.
 

History and mythology

The mythology surrounding the Eye of Saint Lucia is deeply rooted in Mediterranean folklore and is believed to date back to ancient times. According to legend, the Eye of Saint Lucia is a powerful talisman that offers protection against the "evil eye" and other forms of malevolent energy.

 

The name "Eye of Saint Lucia" comes from Saint Lucy or also called Lucia of Syracuse.

Saint Lucy was a Christian martyr from Sicily who is revered as a protector of the eyes. According to legend, Saint Lucy's eyes were plucked out by her persecutors, but were miraculously restored by God. As a result, Saint Lucy is often depicted holding a plate with a pair of eyes on it, symbolizing her miraculous healing.

In some versions of the myth, the Eye of Saint Lucia is said to be one of the eyes that were miraculously restored to Saint Lucy. In other versions, the shell is believed to have been created by Saint Lucy herself, as a powerful symbol of protection and healing.
 

Protection

In many cultures, the evil eye is believed to be a curse that can be cast on an individual by another person's envy or jealousy. The curse is said to cause misfortune, illness, or other negative outcomes. The Eye of Saint Lucia is believed to offer protection against the evil eye by deflecting negative energy and helping to maintain a positive and harmonious environment.

The story of Saint Lucy's eyes has been told and retold over the centuries, and the Eye of Saint Lucia has become a symbol of protection, good luck, and prosperity. Today, the shell is often used in jewelry and worn as a necklace or a charm to ward off negative energy, to bring good luck and protection from harm.

 

The Eye of Saint Lucia is also used in some of my pieces. Please visit the shop for more details here or click on ‘Shop’ in the menu.

 

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