About St. Barbara
The last and most severe of the persecutions in the Roman Empire was that of Diocletian which began in 303AD and lasted until 313AD. From this time many stories of martyrs faithful to Jesus Christ have come down through the tradition of the Church. Among these stories are those of St. Barbara, virgin and martyr. Her name does not appear in the earliest records of Christian martyrs, and veneration does not begin until the seventh century.
St. Barbara is said to have been held in solitude by her father, Dioscorus, who wanted to keep her from being influenced by the outside world. At one point she is said to have rejected an offer of marriage. Dioscorus had a private bath house built for her as he journeyed away on business. Barbara installed three windows in the bath house in honor of the Trinity.
Upon Dioscorus return from his journey he was incensed to learn that Barbara was a Christian. He brought her before the emperor thought to be named Maximinus who ordered Barbara to be tortured and beheaded. Dioscorus, in his fury, beheaded his daughter. On his way home from the execution, Dioscorus was struck by lightning and his body incinerated.
St. Barbara was martyred with another Christian woman named Juliana. Their bodies were buried by a Christian man, Valentinus. Pilgrims to the grave site were healed or received aid and consolation.
Due to the story of St. Barbara’s father being struck with lightning she became the patron saint for those who felt threatened by thunder-storms and fire. She later was also named the patron for artillerymen and miners.
The experience of a man named Henry Kock in 1448 did much to promote the continued veneration of St. Barbara. Henry was nearly burned to death in a fire. He had great devotion to St. Barbara whom he said helped him escape from the fire so that he might receive the last sacraments. St. Barbara is therefore seen as an intercessor against suffering from sudden death and for receiving the final sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.
The feast of St. Barbara is December 4. In her depictions in art she is seen standing by a tower with three windows and carrying a palm of a martyr in her hand.