As a spiritual worker, I petition and work with many saints for myself, clients, friends and family. Many of you who have been following my blog will know that Saint Martha is my personal patron and most beloved saint. Another saint I greatly admire is the 3rd century martyr Saint Barbara about whom I have blogged before. Recently, I have been working with her more and more and find her to be a fierce protector and advocate. I have also been learning about Saint Barbara’s following in Eastern Christianity and the many traditions and devotions associated with her that I find truly fascinating. I would like to share some interesting examples of the graces, blessings and protection that Saint Barbara bestows on her devotees as well as a prayer to invoke the aid of this beautiful and miraculous saint.
The life of Saint Barbara has long been a source of inspiration for me and a shining example for how a person can stand up and defend all that is good and holy. Barbara was the daughter of a powerful Pagan chieftain named Dioscuros who had a fierce hatred of Christians. Barbara began to associate with local Christians who taught her about Jesus and His message of peace, love, hope, charity and eternal life. In secret, she accepted the faith and was baptized. Upon hearing of his daughter’s conversion, Disocuros was enraged and ordered that she be imprisoned in a tower until she returned to her Pagan roots. While imprisoned, Barbara held tightly to the Christian faith and even converted her father’s workers and asked them to build three windows into the tower representing the Holy Trinity-The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This was the final offense for Dioscuros and he sentenced his daughter to death, himself carrying out the sentence taking a sword to her neck. Up her execution a lightning bolt came down from the heavens and struck Dioscuros dead and for that reason Saint Barbara is associated with storms and invoked for protection against them.
Even more than the amazing supernatural occurrences that are associated with Saint Barbara’s life, her example of charity and absolute dedication to her ardent faith are what touch me on a deep level. Many miracles are brought about through the intercession of Saint Barbara in the lives of her devotees. Recently I have learned of an icon owned by a Greek family with roots in Egypt that now lives in London. There are at least two documented cases of spontaneous cures of cancer associated with the veneration of this particular icon and there is an account of a girl from Greece who received great spiritual blessings after she came to venerate the icon after receiving a personal vision of Saint Barbara. On December 4th, the feast day of Saint Barbara, the family that owes the icon invites the faithful into their home to venerate the icon and a priest blesses Saint Barbara’s devotees with the oil from the lamp that is burning constantly before the icon. I am definitely very interested in making a pilgrimage to see this miraculous icon in London. I’m going to research when and how this will be possible, and of course if I do go, I will document the experience here.
Saint Barbara remains a popular saint among Arab Christians in Lebanon, Syria, Israel and parts of Turkey. Her feast day, December 4th, known in Arabic as Eid il-Bubara, is celebrated much in the same way as Halloween is in Western countries. Children wear costumes and go door to door seeking treats singing songs about St. Barbara fleeing from her father Dioscuros. This tradition has its roots in the legend of Saint Barbara donning several different disguises to preserve her anonymity while she fled persecution. A traditional treat served of Saint Barbara’s day is called Bubara, named after the saint herself, and consists of boiled wheat flavored with dried fruits and sugar. This treat commemorates another legend surrounding Saint Barbara that states that she ran through a freshly planted wheat field while fleeing her captors and the wheat grew instantly to cover her tracks. In remembrance of this miracle, it is a custom to plant wheat or similar grains and legumes indoors on St. Barbara’s Day that are used later in the month to decorate Christmas nativity scenes. Upon hearing of these traditions, I was so happy to learn that devotion to St. Barbara remains so strong in the Eastern Church.
Throughout much of history Saint Barbara has been known as a great protector of her devotees. There have been accounts of her stopping plagues and various natural disasters. In Ukraine, where devotion to Saint Barbara is strong and her relics are housed, it was a common practice to wear a blessed Saint Barbara ring as protection against witchcraft. In the west, she is commonly invoked for protection against storms. There is no doubt that this miraculous saint is kind, loving and protective to those who are devoted to her. I am happy to share the following prayer that may be used to see the blessing and protection of Saint Barbara.
You are stronger than the tower of a fortress and the fury of hurricanes. Do not let lightning hit me, thunder frighten me or the roar of canons jolt my courage or bravery. Stay always by my side so that I may confront all the storms and battles of my life with my head held high and a serene countenance. Winning all the struggles, may I, aware of doing my duty, be grateful to you, my protector, and render thanks to God, the Creator of heaven, Earth and nature who has the power to dominate the fury of the storm and to mitigate the cruelty of war.
St Barbara, pray for us.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope that you include Saint Barbara in your spiritual devotions. If you have any experiences involving this saint’s workings in your life, I would love to hear them. As always, I wish you peace, happiness and abundant blessings!