What is an Operculum?

Definition of operculum


plural opercula play  \-pr-ky-l\ also operculums

1 : a body process or part that suggests a lid: such as

a : a horny or shelly plate on the posterior dorsal surface of the foot in many gastropod mollusks that closes the shell when the animal is retracted

b : the covering of the gills of a fish — see fish illustration

2 : a lid or covering flap (as of a moss capsule)

The Legend...


The Eye of Saint Lucia and its legend


It is the operculum of a shell that can be picked along some beaches here in Australia following a big storm. The size of the operculums can vary from 2 mm to 3 cm.

The legend of Saint Lucia was born in the IVth century.

Noble girl from Syracusa obtained the miracle recovery of her mother, who was incurably ill, through her repeated prayers to the Virgin Mary.


As she worshipped the Blessed Virgin wholeheartedly, she ripped her eyes off and threw them into the sea so as not to turn away from her faith and to keep her suitors away.

Entirely devoted to prayer, she fulfilled a great number of miracles. As a reward for such a devotion, the Blessed Virgin restored her sight and gave her back even more beautiful and radiant eyes ('Ochji belli e lucenti').


The operculum of the shell called 'Rough Turbo', found on the Mediterranean shores, symbolizes the eyes of Saint Lucia. Wearing one is said to keep the evil eye away and favour luck.

Admittedly, variants of this symbolism can be found all over the Mediterranean basin and even overseas, particularly in Indonesia.


In Corsica, the 'Eye of Saint Lucia' is considered as a lucky charm.


One shall not confuse it with the operculum from warm seas (see our explainations as to differenciate them), that is quite often proposed in its place. Most of the operculums on the market are called 'Eye of Saint Lucia' whereas they are imported from Asia. The operculum of the Mediterranean turbo is specific with an orange coloured face.









Especially for you....

from The Silver Tree



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