When it comes to traumatizing children, nothing works better than a catholic upbringing.
The church we used to go to when I was a boy was one of those gothic affairs one finds in large East Coast cities, complete with bloody crucifixions and Stations of the Cross and saints of every ilk in statuary form through out the house of worship.
Near the holy water font, on your way out of the church was a statue of Saint Lucy of Syracuse. I used to avoid looking at this statue because it was so creepy. Lucy stood there with a feather in one hand and in the other was a silver platter that her eyeballs rested in.
Oh the nightmares that statue gave me!
I had a nun at catechism class who loved to entertain us with tales of the saints who were tortured and maimed in the name of Christ. I asked her about Saint Lucy and I recall this nun licking her chops as she told me about the young lady sold into prostitution because she would not marry the evil pagan governor’s son; and how later they removed her eyes from her head … I was sorry I asked.
My dad, who took us to church ever Sunday when we were little, had a more cavalier attitude about Saint Lucy; “Son,” he told me once, “I am pretty sure they just made that story up to scare kids like you. It’s kind of like a fairytale – something to keep you on the straight and narrow”.
Thank god, dad was there to always put things into perspective. Still though, I wonder how many little Catholic boys and girls today are still being haunted by Saint Lucy and her eye-ball-plate-special.