But who is Santa Barbara or Saint Barbara?
According to Wikipedia, Saint Barbara, was an early Christian saint and martyr. Accounts place her in the 3rd century in Nicomedia, present-site Turkey or in Heliopolis in Egypt. There is no reference to her in the authentic early Christian writings, nor in the original recension of Saint Jerome's martyrology. Her name can be traced to the 7th century, and veneration of her was common, especially in the East, from the 9th century. Because of doubts about the historicity of her legend, she was removed from the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite in 1969 in Pope Paul VI's motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis.
According to the hagiographies, Barbara was the daughter of a rich pagan named Dioscorus who carefully guarded her daughter and kept her locked up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. Having secretly became a Christian, she rejected an offer of marriage that she received through him.
Before going on a journey, he commanded that a private bath-house be erected for her use near her dwelling, and during his absence, Barbara had three windows put in it, as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, instead of the two originally intended. When her father returned, she acknowledged herself to be a Christian; upon this he drew his sword to kill her, but her prayers created an opening in the tower wall and she was miraculously transported to a mountain gorge, where two shepherds watched their flocks. Dioscorus, in pursuit of his daughter, was rebuffed by the first shepherd, but the second betrayed her and was turned to stone and his flock changed to locusts.
Dragged before the prefect of the province, Martinianus, who had her cruelly tortured, Barbara held true to her faith. During the night, the dark prison was bathed in light and new miracles occurred. Every morning her wounds were healed. Torches that were to be used to burn her went out as soon as they came near her. Finally she was condemned to death by beheading. Her father himself carried out the death-sentence. However, as punishment for this, he was struck by lightning on the way home and his body was consumed by flame. Barbara was buried by a Christian, Valentinus, and her tomb became the site of miracles.
According to Legenda Aurea her martyrdom was December 4 "in the reign of emperor Maximianus and Prefect Marcien" (r. 286–305); the year was given as 267 in the French version edited by Father Harry F. Williams of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection (1975).
Saint Barbara is often portrayed with miniature chains and a tower. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Barbara continues to be a popular saint in modern times, perhaps best known as the patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her old legend's association with lightning, and also of mathematicians. Many of the thirteen miracles in a 15th-century French version of her story turn on the security she offered that her devotees would not die without making confession and receiving extreme unction.
The name of Saint Barbara was known in Rome in the 7th century, her cult can be traced to the 9th century, at first in the East. Since there is no mention of her in the earlier martyrologies, her historicity is considered doubtful.
Saint Barbara is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Her association with the lightning that killed her father has caused her to be invoked against lightning and fire; by association with explosions, she is also the patron of artillery and mining. Her feast on December 4 was included in the Tridentine Calendar, having been introduced in Rome in the 12th century. In 1729 that date was assigned to the celebration of Saint Peter Chrysologus, reducing that of Saint Barbara to a commemoration in his Mass. In 1969, because the accounts of her life and martyrdom were judged to be entirely fabulous, lacking clarity even about the place of her martyrdom, it was removed from that calendar. But she is still mentioned in the Roman Martyrology, which, in addition, lists another ten martyr saints named Barbara.
The life of St. Barbara, from Catholic Online, is a vivid reminder that there can be much anger in our world and in our lives. Being in touch with God's presence in a very special way can do much toward relieving ourselves of our tendency to allow anger to control us. We should pray often against a sudden and unprovided death; and, above all, that we may be strengthened by the Holy Viaticum (Last Sacraments) against the dangers of our last hour.
Prayer to Saint Barbara
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.
St Barbara, pray for us.