Sankta Lucia Pageant Fills Anderson Chapel

Sankta Lucia Choir

CHICAGO, IL (December 13, 2007) - More than 500 people from around Chicago packed into Anderson Chapel on the campus of North Park University to celebrate the Sankta Lucia pageant.

Much of the audience at the December 8 celebration was made up of families and small children. The event was a special treat for many young girls who brought their Lucia dolls and had their picture taken with this year's Lucia.

North Park's pageant has become popular throughout the Swedish community, notes Charles Peterson, dean of academic affairs. "We've had the festival for roughly 30 years."

The pageant is part of the classwork of the first and second year students who are majoring in Scandinavian studies. A senior girl in the program is chosen to represent Lucia. Meredith Lusher played the role this year.

As is tradition in Sweden, the Lucia Queen wears a wreath of candles on her head and is accompanied by her attendants and starboys, who each carry a candle and sing songs of the season, bringing light into the cold, dark world.

The pageant is celebrated with much singing in Swedish. This year, music was provided by students from the University, as well as by a choir from Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola (SVF), an institution in Jönköping, Sweden, with which North Park has had an exchange program for over 35 years.

North Park students also participated today in Lucia festivities at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago, which was followed by a procession through nearby Andersonville. Five students from the school represented North Park or area organizations as Lucia. In addition to Lusher, other students were Kirstin Oberg, Stina Peterson, Krysta Satterstrom, and Lisbeth Wenstrom. A citywide Lucia is chosen from the area representative by a drawing at Daley Plaza.

The Swedish festival is in honor of Lucia who actually was Italian, and whose name means light. Lucia is said to have been beheaded in 304 A.D. during persecutions by the Roman Empire. Scandinavian tradition states that during a severe winter famine, Lucia was seen wearing white robes and a halo as she brought in a ship full of food over the lake of Vänern. To view Lucia festival photos click here.