Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Feast of St. Barbara!

St. Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, one of the early martyrs of the Church, famed for her legendary courage, and her unusual patronage.  Her life story is one of those recorded in the Golden Legend, but here it is in a nutshell:  St. Barbara, the daughter of a rich man, lived some time during the fourth century. Though her father was a heathen -- and determinedly so -- Barbara learned of the Faith and adopted it secretly.  When her father (surely of choleric temperament) discovered her, he, himself, turned his daughter over to the Roman authorities, and it was at his hands that she was martyred -- by beheading. (Can you imagine?) On his way home after this cruel act, her father was struck by lightning and his body completely consumed by fire.  Barbara, in the meantime, enjoyed the beatific vision and eternal happiness in Heaven.  Her intercession was immediately accompanied by miracles and her fame and expample spread thoughout Christendom. 

St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, military engineers, gunsmiths, and miners, and is invoked against lightning storms and sudden, violent death in the workplace.  Her cultus exists today in an unusual way through her particular patronage in the military:

St. Barbara's Day is celebrated by the British Royal Artillery, the Australian RAAF Armourers, the Royal Canadian Artillery, the New Zealand RNZAF Armourers, the Irish Defence Forces Artillery Regiments.  The American Third Texas Light Artillery celebrates the Feast of St. Barbara in a special way with a traditional punch, called Chatham Artillery Punch -- and it'll treat you to a punch, let me tell you!  Check out their website for the recipe and for some great history and information on how St. Barbara's Day is celebrated in beautiful Southeast Texas! It isn't only the Texans who honor St. Barbara, though, as the Order of Saint Barbara is a military honor society in the US Army and Marine Corps Artillery.

In the country of Georgia, St. Barbara's Day is celebrated as Barbaroba (on December 17th, which is December 3rd in the old style calendar).  They serve the traditional lobiani, a bread baked with bean stuffing.

Saint Barbara's day, kinown as Eid il-Burbara  in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine among Arab Christians is celebrated much like North American Halloween. The traditional food is Burbara, a bowl of boiled barley, pomegranate seeds, raisins, anise and sugar offered to children parading from door to door in costume. It is believed by Lebanese Christians that Saint Barbara disguised herself in numerous characters to elude the Romans who were persecuting her.

In Greece, the feast day is celebrated by the Artillery Corps of the Greeg Army and the Cypriot National Guard.  The traditional fare for the day is Loukoumades, canonball-shaped pastry confections, made with cinnamon and honey.  (I think we'll try these for dessert tonight, after some meatless lobiani!)

G.K. Chesterton wrote the Ballad of St. Barbara, a poem that tells the story of the artillery barages that turned the First Battle of the Marne, in WWI.
The legend goes that after surviving a violent storm on the eve of the Feast of St. Barbara in 1602, Spanish explorer, Juan Cabrillo, docked along a beautiful coastline in the newly discovered land of California, and in thanksgiving for his safe journey named the area in honor of St. Barbara:  Santa Barbara, CA.

For beautiful images of St. Barbara, you can go here.
For a coloring page you can click and print on the picture below.

Prayer on the Feast of St. Barbara

Oh God, who among the other miracles of Your power, have given the victory of martyrdom, grant, we beseech You, that we, who are celebrating the heavenly Blessed Barbara, Your Virgin and Martyr, may by her example draw nearer to you.


St. Barbara, pray for us!

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