Juno Lucina

The title Lucina was given to the goddess Juno in her aspect as an attendant

at childbirth. Juno herself was closely associated with the life of women.

As Sororia she was the patronness of girls' maturity, and under various titles

(Juno Pronuba, Juno Iuga, etc.) she was the protector of marriage. The title

Lucina may have originated from "lucus" (grove); according to Pliny a temple

in a grove on the Esquiline Hill in Rome was dedicated to her on March 1,

375 B.C.E., and Vestal Virgins made offerings of locks of hair on an ancient

tree nearby. Another possibile derivation of the title associates it with

light, for Juno Lucina was thought to open a baby's eyes to the light after

the darkness of the womb.


Servius Tullius is credited with the practice of depositing a coin in the

temple of Juno Lucina at the birth of a child. On March 1, the anniversary

of the dedication of her temple, Juno Lucina was honored in the Matronalia

festival. Only women could participate in this festival, and they were required to

untie knots in their clothing and leave their hair unbound as symbolic

representations of deliverance from the hazards of childbirth.