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Saint Barbara

Posted in Religion, Saints on Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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Saint Barbara is of doubtful authenticity for a number of reasons, and never featured in Saint Jerome’s martyrology. Origins of her veneration can be traced back to the seventh century, and according to hagiographers she seems to have lived in the third century, the daughter of a devoted pagan father, Dioscorus, who to preserve her purity keeps her away from the outside world, safely locked in a tower and forbidden any contact with other people.

Saint Barbara, picture, image, illustrations

Saint Barbara

He has to go away on a journey and builds a special bath-house for her private use, attached to the tower and secure like her domestic prison. She has secretly converted to Christianity, and in his absence has a third window added to the new chamber, the three windows thus intended to symbolise the Trinity. On his return her father realises the import of this change, and fearing for her life after confessing her conversion, she flees to the hills. He pursues in order to kill her, but she is guarded by two shepherds and believes herself safe. Sadly the second shepherd betrays her, for which sin he is turned to stone and his flock of sheep to locusts. The father returns with Barbara and she is brought before the prefect of the province who has her tortured without success. She proclaims her faith despite intense suffering, and the burns inflicted by her tormentors heal each night. The prefect realises that the only way to kill this young woman is to behead her, and it is thus that she is martyred. Her cruel father gets his just rewards, when he is struck by lightning after handing his daughter over to the authorities. This last explains why she is the Patron Saint of artillerymen and military engineers.

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