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Saint Barbara

Saint Barbara

Life of Saint Barbara

The story of Saint Barbara varies from one version to another. Barbara was born around 235 in Nicomedia (today Izmit in Turkey), during the Empire of Diocletian. Soon enough, she discovered the Christian Truth through her readings and wished to remain a virgin out of love for Christ. His father, Dioscore, was a pagan of Phoenician origin, cruel in character. When Barbe became a teenager, she was particularly beautiful and the family fortune was attractive, so Dioscore, fearing the envious, decided to lock her daughter in an inaccessible fortress. There, the girl was baptized by a priest disguised as a doctor, and she had a third window made in the tower to symbolize the Holy Trinity and traced crosses on the walls. Seeing these Christian signs, her father entered with great fury, and Barbara fled and took refuge in a cave. A shepherd gave her up to her father. The violent man attacked his daughter and suddenly overwhelmed her.

He brought her before the court of Marcian and demanded that she be punished according to the rigor of the decrees promulgated against Christians. Barbara, then 16 years old, was cruelly flogged. That very night the Lord appeared to her, encouraging her to stand firm in the trials by which she was to give glory to Him and assuring her of His help. As a sign of His protection, He healed her of all her wounds. Seeing the young Barbara perfectly healed, Marcian became more enraged and invented several appalling torments that he subjected her to, she was burned, her breasts were cut off, etc. By the grace of God Barbara did not feel the pain, she remained unshaken, always refusing to sacrifice to idols. She kept her eyes up to Heaven and prayed.

Increasingly furious, the governor, looking for a torture that could lead to the surrender of a virgin, decided to walk the naked girl through the streets of the city, once again the Lord answered the prayer of the saint and clothed her himself with a garment of light that kept her away from the eyes of the curious. Finally, having failed to bend her, he ordered that her head be cut off, it was her father Dioscore who had witnessed all the torture and who wanted to cut off her head himself. Before she died, Barbara again prayed to the Lord to hear those who would trust in her intercession, and Christ accepted and invited her to come and receive his crown of glory. Barbara was martyred under the reign of Emperor Maximin I, it was a 4 December, the day of the feast of the holy Barbara. Immediately after having killed his daughter, Dioscore, triumphant and proud of having served the idols, was punished by God and a bolt of lightning reduced him to ashes. It was after this event that Saint Barbara was recognized as having power over fire and became the patron saint of miners, firefighters, firefighters and fire-related trades.

The worship of Saint Barbara spread widely in the East and in the West during the 5th century, it is often associated with that of Saint Margaret of Antioch, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Lucy of Syracuse. In the 6th century, the Byzantine emperors had the relics of Saint Barbara, very revered, transferred to Constantinople. Today one can see some of these relics in the Basilica of St. Vladimir in Kyiv where they were carried in the 11th century.

Discover more lives of saints on Hozana.

The Feast of Saint Barbara in Fire Departments

Among the firefighters, the feast of Saint Barbara became widespread under the Third Republic, following the religious ceremony, a banquet followed by a ball were organized. Even today, firefighters have kept the tradition of having a friendly feast on Saint Barbara’s Day.

The feast of Saint Barbara in Lebanon

Every year, on December 4th, the feast of Saint Barbara is very much anticipated in Lebanon by young and old alike. Many traditions surround this festival, children dress up and go from house to house, singing the hymn of Saint Barbara and collecting money and treats. As December 4th is close to sowing time, it is customary to prepare sweet, cooked wheat seasoned with spices and served with nuts, and children are also offered small cream pancakes called "atayef". The feast of Saint Barbara marks the beginning of the Advent period, and it is customary to sprout wheat in saucers; if it forms a beautiful green grass, it is used to decorate the Christmas nursery. The use of wheat on Saint Barbara’s Day also finds its origin in a legend, it is said that Barbara, having fled to escape her father, hid in a field of wheat.

Prayers to Saint Barbara

The intercession of Saint Barbara is recognized as powerful by many professions at risk, but she intercedes more generally to protect against sudden death and death without last sacraments.

Prayer to Saint Barbara on Hozana.

Prayer for the intercession of Saint Barbara


O Lord God, who has chosen Saint Barbara for the consolation of the living and the dying, grant us the grace to obtain, through our worship and through our trust in this holy martyrdom, all the favors which she asked of you for her faithful servants, before her glorious death. We beseech you by Our Lord Jesus Christ. 


Saint Barbara, you who are the hope of the sick and the dying to obtain eternal salvation, pray for us.



Oh, good Jesus! How heavy it must have been for your shoulders, and even more for your heart, the weight of our crimes! Just as the grapes under the press give all their juice only when they are crushed by the burden that weighs on them, so your sacred body has shed its precious blood, crushed under the press of pain. Forgive us, Jesus. Amen

Prayer to Saint Barbara: O my Savior, I beseech You and exhort You not to forsake me

O my Savior, who know the depths of hearts, who know that I desire only You, that I love only Your holy Laws and that I have totally dedicated myself to Your Majesty, to depend only on Your divine Power, I implore and exhort You not to abandon me, to receive me in the arms of Your Mercy, to support me and to strengthen me, so that I may remain victorious in this fight. 

My God do not turn your face away from me and deprive me of the Presence of your Holy Spirit. 

O my Lord and my King, covering the sky of clouds and the earth of darkness whenever He pleases You, hide, I beseech You, the nakedness of my body, so that the eyes of the unbelievers will not see it, and they will not make mockery of Your handmaid.