The Italian Almanac

St Lucius Pass

Italian News - july 13

Cheesemakers from all over Italy celebrated their patron saint on Tuesday.

Legend has it that St Lucius - still on the calendar but not an 'official' saint - was a 14th-century Italian shepherd-boy stabbed to death by a jealous cheesemaker because of his miraculous ability to multiply cheese wheels.

When he fell to the ground, medieval tales relate, water sprang out of the earth and formed a small lake with beneficial properties for people with bad eyes. The site of his death in the Swiss-Italian Alps is visited each year by pilgrims, cheesemakers and cheese lovers waiting for the lake to miraculously turn pink as it is supposed to every July 12.

St Lucius's birth and death dates are uncertain so saint experts have used the earliest images of him to place his amazing life at the end of the 13th century. He is typically depicted as a medieval shepherd in simple cloak and tunic, a wheel of cheese in one hand and a knife in the other ready to cut and share it.