The story we know about St. Barbara is based on legend. According to the Catholic church she never existed.
The legend is that she was a maiden who converted to the Christian faith after correspondence with Origen, a doctor of the church. The mail was sent through another doctor named Valentius, and he eventually baptized her. According to another version she climbed into a pagan well and was baptized in a vision of St. John.
When her father found out he shut her up in a tower and then killed her by decapitation. For this he was struck by lightning.
St. Barbara is the patron saint of Edessa and Cairo, as well as of architects, construction workers, prisoners and firework makers.
In art she is often shown holding a tower, or a palm of her martyrdom. She is also sometimes shown standing on a Saracen, or holding a chalice or the ostrich feather the infant Jesus gave her as a sign of her virginity.
An old superstition concerning St. Barbara is that if you light a candle on her day you will die a natural death.
Orthodox nameday: 4/12
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