Roman Catholic and Orthodox Saint. She is most remembered for the miraculous acts surrounding her death and that her body mummified after death. According the legends, she was born in Heliopolis, Phoenicia, depending on the source, in what is modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, or Turkey. Her mother died when she was a child, and her wealthy father, Dioscorus, was a Roman collaborator who persecuted the Christians. As a beautiful, young woman, she desired a simple, quiet life and disapproved of having slaves. Her father locked her in a tower with scholars teaching her to follow his pagan belief of worshiping idols. When her father realized that she had become a Christian and baptized by a priest, he physically abused her then had her arrested by the Romans. In a two-day ordeal, the Roman soldiers beat her but could not harm her physically. According the legend, the soldiers did drag her naked through the town. As that was being done, an angel appeared covering her with a white tunic and the torches that were going to be used by the soldiers to burn her at the stake became useless. Before her death, she prayed that those harming her would be deprived from a sudden death giving them time to repent their wrongdoings. Her father witnessed this happening, becoming furious and beheading her with his sword as she would not denounce her belief in Jesus Christ. An 18-year-old virgin when she died, some sources state the death day was in the second half of the 4th century instead of the first half. It is recorded, that at her death, her father was struck by lightning and spontaneously turned to ashes. In the year of “1225, her body was transported to Riet Cathedral in Italy and beatified by Pope Otan III”. In the Middle Ages, St. Barbara was named the protective saint of miners, mathematicians and later the saint who protects those who deal with fire and explosives since her father's death involved lightning. She became the patron saint for artilleryman in many armies including the United States, England, and other European countries. She is consider as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Sources say that her body was taken to Kiev in the Ukraine by Barbara Elaine, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenos and the future wife of a Russian prince. After being put in a silver and ebony coffin, the body was transferred to St. Michael monastery in Kiev. Then after 1934, the body was transferred to the Orthodox Church, St. Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. Some sources state that one of her hands was left at St. Michael monastery. This is well-documented yet, one of her legs and feet are on displayed in a glass coffin for public viewing at at St. Blaise Church. These body parts have the appearance of wood or leather. Since the painter, Gaetano Gresle, brought many relics and artifacts to St. Blasie on July 23, 1818, it can be reasoned that her leg might have been brought then too. Her feast day is December 4th, yet it is no longer celebrated as there are so many unanswered questions in the history of her life such as place and time of her death, being beheaded but an intact body is said to be in Kiev, beatified by “Pope Otan “ but no pope by that name, no certain history of a “Barbara Elaine” documented, and no written history of St. Barbara until after 700 AD. Her name was removed from the church calendar in 1969. There are numerous early paintings telling the story of her life and there is a “Saint Barbara” on the Roman Catholic list of saints. There is a cult following for St. Barbara and they pray to her with at least one miracle credited to her after her death. Relics of “her body” can also be found in Germany, England, and Chicago, Illinois in the United States.
Bio by: Linda Davis
Gravesite Details Only one of her legs and feet are in a glass coffin for public viewing.